Asus A8R-MVP: Mainstream Rocketby Wesley Fink on November 23, 2005 1:15 AM EST
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Asus A8R-MVP: Board Layout
The box for the Asus A8R-MVP is dark grey and strewn with confetti, perhaps to announce the party inside, but it is certainly not a serious package like we see on the top-line Asus boards.
Just as important are the SB450 south bridge limitations that are not here. The Asus A8R-MVP is the first board that we have reviewed that uses the ULi M1575 south bridge instead of the SB450. This means full support for 4 SATA2 devices, and fully competitive USB performance with 8 USB 2.0 ports.
The ULi M1575 also has the necessary hooks to support Azalia HD audio, like the ATI solution. Asus has chosen the Analog Devices Azalia High Definition AD1986A audio chip to drive 6 channels of High Definition Audio. You can find more information on the Analog Devices HD Audio AD1986a at http://www.analog.com/en/prod/0,2934,AD1986A,00.html.
The A8R-MVP uses a simple slot insert that Asus calls MVP for x16 and dual x8 switching. This is the same simple arrangement that we saw on early ATI Reference boards. The card goes into the slot nearest to the CPU for x16 mode and is removed for dual x8 Crossfire. There are no complicated internal switches as we've seen on some other Crossfire boards, which may be one of the reasons for the excellent overclocking that we see on this Asus.
The 4-pin 12V and 24-pin ATX power connectors are at the preferred location on board edges. There is no need to snake cables over the CPU or slots when this location is used. The 4 DIMMs are also color-coded for Dual-Channel: the blue slots are one channel and the black slots are the other. When running 2 DIMMs, this alternate spacing makes it easier to keep the DIMMs cool.
A single video card goes in the blue slot, so even if it's double-width, you still have a usable PCIe x1 and 2 PCI slots. In the worst dual video arrangement of two double-width cards, you still have 2 usable PCI slots. If the cards are single width, you gain a PCIe x1 and another PCI slot.
Asus does not include an additional SATA2 controller on the A8R-MVP, but it really isn't needed. The ULi M1575 provides four SATA2 ports that can be combined up to RAID 5 if you choose.
IDE and floppy connectors are ideally located on the right edge of the board - where they belong. However, they are really strewn all the way across the right board edge instead of being concentrated in the upper right quadrant. The lower IDE and floppy connectors are card-edge connectors, which keep cables out of the way of cards. However, you may want to connect these card-edge cables before securing the board in your case - especially in a tight case design. You shouldn't have an issue with IDE, floppy, or SATA connector placement, but look carefully at how cables will be managed in any case that you are considering.
This may be a mainstream board, but Asus still includes IEEE1394 Firewire and HD audio. There are also 6 jack-sensing connectors driven by the HD audio chip and a coaxial SPDIF port.