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.


Click to enlarge.

Nonetheless, all the top Crossfire AMD features are there, such as dual x16 PCIe slots that support a single x16 video card or dual x8 Crossfire.

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.


Click to enlarge.

The basic layout of the A8R-MVP is typically Asus, meaning that the layout overall is very good. Cooling is passive - there are no active fans - which is also typical of Asus designs. You will notice that there is nothing on the board which would announce that this might be a serious overclocker, except perhaps for the large heatsink covering the power Mosfets. Even here, we see a 3-phase design instead of the robust 4-phase designs used on the ATI Reference boards.

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.

Index Basic Features: Asus A8R-MVP
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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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