When the Asus A8R-MVP landed on our doorstep, we were frankly a bit disappointed. Here was the first Asus board built with the ATI Crossfire AMD chipset and the first board to market that uses the ULi M1575 south bridge instead. If you recall from our launch review of the M1575, this ULi south bridge fully supports SATA2 and provides competitive USB performance - removing the few nagging issues with the excellent ATI Crossfire AMD chipset.

So, why were we disappointed? We really hoped that Asus would deliver a super high-end board, much like the Asus A8N32-SLI deluxe 8-phase that we recently reviewed. That kind of board could clearly show what the Crossfire AMD chipset was really capable of doing. Instead, we had a competent-appearing mainstream board that will likely sell in the $100 to $125 price range. Our first thoughts, naturally, were "ho-hum", a solid but unspectacular Crossfire AMD.

We even talked with Asus about why they didn't lavish their attentions on the A8R-MVP, and we were given perfectly reasonable explanations. With Dual x16 NVIDIA now available, Asus really believed that the ATI Crossfire AMD was better positioned as a mainstream product, and Asus would likely give "top-end treatment" to the upcoming RD580 ATI Dual x16 Crossfire chipset for AMD. We couldn't argue with the Asus logic, but it did not stop our disappointment that maybe this board could have had it all for those looking for an ATI chipset solution for Athlon 64 Socket 939.

If we always went with our assumptions, there would be no reason at all to test motherboards, and thankfully, our first opinions are often proven wrong in the actual testing. As we began benchmarking the A8R-MVP, we realized that our assumptions were completely wrong and this board might prove to be the board many have been waiting for. It turns out that there is absolutely nothing missing from the feature set of the A8R-MVP except the high price, and we think that you will enjoy our journey with this board.

We also had a few shocks in other areas. Our first attempts at overclocking were pretty average, but as we persevered, we had another assumption shoved back in our face.


Click to enlarge.

This isn't a mistake. This is a screen capture of the Asus A8R-MVP after running 2 days at 325x9 - the highest overclock that we have ever achieved with our standard OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev.2 memory and our 4000+ CPU. We actually reached even higher overclocks, but 325 was completely stable with air cooling.

Now that you know that this average-priced motherboard turned out to be anything but average in performance, join us as we take a closer look at the motherboard that may turn out to be the value-priced rocket everyone is looking for.

Asus A8R-MVP: Board Layout
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  • james007 - Thursday, February 16, 2006 - link

    Hi, I deeply appreciate the hard work and thought that went into this article. I'm not a 'gamer' though -- I'm trying to select the fastest available mobo for software development. Visual Studio 2005 is a dog, dawg! I don't mind dropping a few hundred for speed.. so what are y'all's thoughts: what's the fastest mobo? A8R-MVP, or A8N32-SLI? Or another board?
    + I'm still trying to select the snappiest hard drive. SCSI (like, Cheetah) or Sata?

    Thanx for your advice and for lending us the benefits of your experience.
    JH
    Reply
  • htcstech - Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - link

    Apologies for my ignorance, but did you test the motherboard overclocked or as standard?
    If either OC or standard, have you posted the other results?
    Thanks
    Reply
  • superkdogg - Monday, January 16, 2006 - link

    Hey Wes,

    Did you really get that 325x9 @ 1.300 vCore like the screenshot on the first page says?

    If so, you had a fantastic setup going. I'm looking forward to getting my board (despite the numerous complaints about vCore not as advertised). I can deal with the memory issues (real or user-based) because I'm still rocking the Corsair VS with dividers anyway.
    Reply
  • tanstudio - Thursday, January 12, 2006 - link

    I have a a8r mvp and opteron 146 running stable at 2.6G with 1.45V. I can boot into 2.7G but soon windows hangged. And the max cpu voltage I can have is 1.45V with this motherboard. It would be great if the board can have 1.5-1.65 v cop voltage so my opteron 146 may have a chance to hit 2.8G with 1.5V or 1.55V core voltage. Reply
  • Beenthere - Sunday, January 08, 2006 - link

    As many people who have purchased the A8R-MVP Mobo have sadly discovered, there are some serious issues with the production Mobos that Anandtech did not experience with their review board. Specifically the Mobo does NOT provide CPU Vcore voltages above 1.40V and many if not most people who have purchased this Mobo have been unable to run memory at 1T above 250 MHz even though the same memory runs fine on other Mobos above 250 MHz at 1T with no problem. The voltage issue is serious because Asus clearly advertises the A8R-MVP for use with all socket 939 Athlon / FX / X2 CPUs, which of course is impossible as the (CG) Clawhammer core chips require a MINIMUM 1.50V, which isn't even an option on the A8R-MVP Mobo.

    After careful review of a number of factors I have a suspicion that the A8R-MVP has limited Vcore current capacity and that is why Asus has refused to provide the proper voltage options in the BIOS. I suspect after they produced the Mobo they discovered the shortcoming and so limited the voltage options because the current draw increases as you O/C the CPU, which is only possible if you can raise the voltage, in most cases. This is just my theory but if Asus could provide the proper CPU voltages for the CG core CPUs then you'd have thought after two BIOS updates they would have...

    From my perspective this is simply unacceptable as any Clawhammer based CPU requires a minimum 1.50V per AMD. Asus has advertised the A8R-MVP as being fully Athlon / FX / X2 compatible and even states in their online Tech Section that the FX-55 and 4000+ are fully supported on this Mobo - which of course they ARE NOT as they require a MINIMUM 1.50V, which is not even an option on the A8R-MVP.

    My suggestion is that people STOP BUYING THIS MOBO if you need a minimum 1.50V Vcore. Anyone who can return their A8R-MVP under warranty would be advised to do so. If you have an FX-55 or 4000+ that requires 1.50V per AMD, then you can't run it on this Mobo despite Asus' claims of fitment. That's my view of things based on what I see and I'd suggest potential purchasers of this Mobo be advised of the unusually low CPU voltage options PRIOR to purchase as you may need to return the Mobo if your CPU requires 1.50 or more volts to function properly.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, January 15, 2006 - link

    Your information is not completely true - but you already know this. The vCore of the A8R-MVP varies according to the CPU installed. It does NOT stop at 1.4V with a Clawhammer. The range available varies with the CPU and is always 0.0v to 0.1v more than the default voltage of the CPU. When we tested the board Asus advised that the additional overvolt option in the BIOS added 0.2V more vCore. After measuring several boards the actual addition of the overvolt jumper is 0.1V.

    The range is not quite as wide as what we initially reported, but it is not nearly as limited as what you report. If you plan to post this in every Forum that mentions the A8R-MVP you need to at least get your facts correct. The limit is not 1.65V with a 1.45V processor, but it is alos not the 1.4V you imply. Fo most recent AMD processors increasing vCore does little for overclocking anyway. You are better off using the chipset and HTT overvolt. No doubt many would welcome a range to 1.7V, but the design of the A8R-MVP does not make that a likely prospect. I also did not need the much higher vCore to reach 325FSB in my testing.

    What I am finding in emails is about half can duplicate results I found, while the other half have difficulty getting above 250-260. It does appear there may be quite a bit of variation in the OC performance of the shipping RD480 chipsets - and that there are chipsets out there that OC well and half that don't overclock as well.
    Reply
  • dlxhammer - Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the info Beenthere, but sadly i have already ordered this mobo, along with an x1800xt. I WAS planning on using my current cpu (amd 3500 clawhammer) and you are correct the voltage is 1.5

    Maby its time to upgrade my cpu:\ I notice the AMD dual core processors require 1.35-1.4 volts would this be a wise choice? maby ill give my current cpu a shot 1st...
    Reply
  • tmodel37 - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Hi Wes,
    Since I cannot find the A8n32 SLI Deluxe anywhere, the A8n-MVP sounds great, but I already have 2 7800GT's. Where can I get the hacked drivers? I am 68 yr. old newbie, and need all the help I can get.
    Reply
  • Ryan Norton - Monday, December 12, 2005 - link

    Feedback thread:

    http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview...9&th...

    I took it up to 325HTT last night in 5MHz increments and let it run Memtest all night, still rock solid. A couple anomalous BIOS setting options, however.
    Reply
  • AllanLim - Sunday, December 11, 2005 - link

    And am proceeding wring some performance from it. Question is Wes, how were you able to get 325x9 with the current BIOS options.

    Rgds
    Reply

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