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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  • Beenthere - Monday, February 20, 2006 - link

    No flames at Anandtech. Asus is the mfg. and the one responsible for delivering a proper vcore circuit design, using quality components, etc.

    Don't shoot the messenger for stating the facts. If Asus didn't have design and engineering problems their mobos wouldn't have these confirmed issues reported by numerous hardware review sites.
    Reply
  • arswihart - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    Do you have to use the same color RAM slots on ASUS boards for dual-channel, as shown in the pic in this review? Reply
  • Shimmishim - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    it's good to see you catch your mistakes from your previous reviews. i hope next time you'll take users comments/emails more seriously than just brushing it off simply as "others can do it..." other than that. this board looks great! its a shame all this good stuff is coming out 1/2 quarters before AM2 is being released. Reply
  • godrod - Friday, February 17, 2006 - link

    I need to know on this board if you only have one video card (x1800XT) can you put it into the upper PCI-E slot closest to the CPU socket or does it have to go into the lower slot like the SD480 boards. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 17, 2006 - link

    A single video card can go into either x16 PCIe slot. We tried both slots and it will work wekk in either. Reply
  • arswihart - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    this looks nice, I haven't moved from AGP yet, this may just make me do it Reply
  • Beenthere - Friday, February 17, 2006 - link

    After Asus's false advertising of the A8R-MVP as being designed for "Serious Overclockers"; After Asus's failure to fix the long list of defects on the A8R-MVP which include 1T memory, Vcore instability, BIOS issues, etc.; After Asus's failure to acknowledge the known problems with the A8R-MVP; After Asus's refusal to even discuss the problems of the A8R-MVP with customers; After Asus's refusal to provide a proper BIOS upgrade to correct the defects in the A8R-MVP; After Asus's denial that the A8R-MVP mobo even existed after people bought it; After Asus's refusal to provide the same BIOS to consumers that they provided to Anandtech...

    there will never be another Asus product purchased by our company. Asus can stick their entire product line where the Sun don't shine. They've burned us for the last time. They may think they got away with defrauding consumers with the defective A8R-MVP mobos but they are in for one big surprise.
    Reply
  • DanaGoyette - Sunday, February 19, 2006 - link

    Refusal to provide the same BIOS...
    Hey, that gives me an idea! I wonder if Anandtech still has their A8R-MBP -- if they do, they should make a bios backup and post it!
    Reply
  • matthewfoley - Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - link

    If any of you read the article they offered anyone who emailed them a copy of the same bios that they used. If you really want it I can get it for you. Reply
  • DanaGoyette - Sunday, March 05, 2006 - link

    Oh, I don't even have the board, but shouldn't it be easy to post the BIOS on the site rather than just through e-mail? Reply

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