Asus A8R32-MVP: Board Layout

Asus has moved the Dual X16 A8R32-MVP to the Deluxe name. This is reflected in the upgraded packaging with the upgraded Asus Sleeve and inner box. The dark gray AI Life package also emphasizes the addition of Stack Cool 2 for better overclocking and the 3-year Asus warranty.

The new RD580 northbridge is incredibly small, as you can see in this photo without the Northbridge heatsink. However, this chip drives both x16 PCIe channels. Other IO tasks are generally handled by the Southbridge.

The Asus A8R-MVP was the first board we reviewed that used the ULi M1575 south bridge instead of the SB450. That meant full support for 4 SATA2 devices, and fully competitive USB performance with 8 USB 2.0 ports. Asus is continuing the use of the excellent ULi M1575 Southbridge on the A8R32-MVP Deluxe. This looks like a wise move, since we will not likely see the updated ATI SB600 Southbridge until the launch of the new AMD AM2 processors.

Since the A8R32-SLI Deluxe is an upgrade to the current A8R-MVP, the best way to compare the two boards is to take a closer look at what has changed in the upgrade.


Click to enlarge.

Those who complained that the Asus A8R-MVP was an ugly color will be glad to see that Asus has moved to an all-black design for the A8R32-MVP Deluxe. Asus has kept the passive cooling, which is good news for fans of silent PCs. Beyond that, there are some refinements in the board layout. The four SATA2 connectors off the ULi M1575 have been turned to be parallel to the expansion slots - a better arrangement for long cards - and the 2nd IDE has been moved from board edge to upper right.

The only other layout change of any significance involves the PCIe slots. Asus has spread the 2 PCIe slots to a distance of 2 slots between the two x16 slots. This allows better video card cooling. It also requires a slight rearrangement of the available slots, but the total slots - 2 x16 PCIe, 1 x1 PCIe, and 2 PCI - remains the same.

If you look closely, you will see that the RD580 does not need a supplementary 4-pin Molex connection like the earlier 480, and that connector has been removed from the A8R32-MVP. We had no problems with stability of 2 video cards, even with dual X1900XT video cards, so the extra power connection is not necessary for stable dual video on the A8R32-MVP.

The rest of the updates to the A8R32-MVP Deluxe are not so obvious at first look.

The 6-channel AD1986A HD audio codec of the A8R has been upgraded on the A8R32 to the Realtek ALC 882 HD codec. The 8-channel Realtek is a well-regarded High Definition codec that has performed well in recent tests. Realtek has been upgrading their HD drivers frequently, and each new version seems to improve the performance a bit more. You can find more information on the Realtek ALC882 HD at their site.

The ALC882 has superb specifications, providing five 24-bit stereo DACs and three 20-bit stereo DACs driving the multimedia features. All DACs provide sample rates to 192kHz and up to 4 channels of microphone input are supported. Signal-to-Noise ratio is specified to be greater than 103dB. Realtek features the ALC882 as a premium HD part.

Just above the Northbridge heat sink, you will see another addition to the A8R32-MVP. In another move to "Deluxe", Asus has added a second SATA2 controller to the A8R32-MVP. While both boards feature the 4 SATA2 ports provided by the ULi M1575 Southbridge, the A8R32 adds 2 more ports controlled by the well-regarded Silicon Image 3132. This brings SATA2 ports to 6 on the A8R32-MVP.

Another addition that justifies the Asus move of the A8R32-MVP to the Deluxe moniker is the addition of a second Gigabit LAN. Where the A8R has just the slower PCI Gigabit Ethernet, the A8R32 adds a second full-speed Gigabit LAN on the PCIe bus. This will be an important addition for some buyers.

The A8R32-MVP provides a full compliment of rear IO connectors, including both optical and coaxial SPDIF. The new connector to the right of the SPDIFs is for an external SATA device. Two Firewire ports are provided, but both are supported by an auxiliary slot bracket included in the A8R32-MVP package or with header connections to case Firewire ports.

The refinements to the A8R32-MVP Deluxe layout are subtle, but they improve on the already excellent design of the A8R-MVP. Asus has a reputation for paying attention to details in their board layouts, and they do not disappoint with the A8R32-MVP.

Index Basic Features: Asus A8R32-MVP
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  • superkdogg - Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - link

    If you had been working for half the time you have been whining on every forum you can find, you could have bought two SLI-Experts or whatever motherboard you think has no problems.

    Dude, get over it. The A8R was not exactly as reviewed here. Is that disappointing? Yep. Unfair? Maybe. Fact is, anybody who bought it for the "serious overclocking" that you're referencing would do a vMod and get on with it. I have two A8R's. One is dead because I was stupid and tried a vMod. My soldering needs work. I bought a second one on refurb for $75 because I realized that in the best case, that vMod might get me another 150 MHz. You know what else would get me 150 MHz? Dusting off a Pentium Pro in my basement. I could also get the 2% benefit that 1T timing would give me from chance, since most 'marks are + or - 2-3%.

    I was burned by the same problem you were. I have learned to live with it and am currently happily running 300x9 with ram @ 2.5-4-4-9, 2T (166/200). That's not bad for standard blue heatspreader Patriot that runs about $80 per gig.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - link

    Omid, is that you? Reply
  • yacoub - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    Should have run the 3DMark benches with the 7800GTX like all the other boards so at least we could see if the board itself (the object of review) offered any particular performance gain or loss. :[ Reply
  • yacoub - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    oic now, thanks. :)

    green bars. tricksy hobbitses!
    Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    I am unhappy with the pictures of the board included in this review. I can't see anything on them because they are too dark. I couldn't even tell if they were a firewire port on the back. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - link

    The pictures are not overly dark on several monitors we tried in reading the review. I'm sorry I don't have advice in that area.

    As stated in the review, both Firewire ports are on an accesory bracket included with the motherboard. The bracket will fit in an empty slot or can be routed to case firewire ports.
    Reply
  • Googer - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    What Phase Power is this motherboard using? 2,3,4,8,24? Reply
  • Beenthere - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    Any properly designed 3-phase or greater CPU vcore circuit that complies with AMD's VRM64/T specs will work just fine. If however a mfg. delivers a poor circuit design or uses inferior MOSFETS, caps, etc., then you experience Vcore instability which causes all kinds of operational Hell. More phases just lowers the ripple and spreads the load across more MOSFETS. Reply
  • Beenthere - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    BTW, if you check the A8R-MVP, the A8N series and the Asus P5GL-MX you'll see that all of these mobos have been confirmed to have vcore instability problems when tested at the mobo with a DVM or scope. Asus seems to have some significant mobo engineering issues they can't resolve... and that are not present on other brands of mobos using the same chipsets. Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    Do you work for DFI or Abit or something? This is the third site where I have ran into you flaming Asus constantly!


    (where did I put that troll repellant)

    Seriously, link some proof of said Vcore instability. Show me scope printouts of the Vcore lines (and the 12v rails that were used to drive it)
    Reply

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