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Conclusion

First of all I would like to say that ATI Radeon Xpress 200 Crossfire chipset looks much better when it is bundled with ULi M1575 South Bridge rather than with the default ATI SB450. ULi chip is faster and boasts much more up-to-date specifications. It can easily compete with nForce4. Among the definite advantages of the ULi M1575 South Bridge I should mention Serial ATA II support, advanced RAID controller, and high-quality sound solution. This South Bridge doesn’t have any issues with USB 2.0 implementation that are typical of ATI SB450 chip. Only one thing is kind of upsetting here: ULi Company has been purchased by NVIDIA< and will soon stop shipping its solutions to ATI partners.

However, getting a great South Bridge chip is certainly not enough to build a successful product on ATI Radeon Xpress 200 Crossfire. ASUS A8R-MVP is a very good example that this is true. Trying to design an inexpensive solution ASUS engineers didn’t use all the potential of the chipset. The product we have just discussed features a slightly worse sound and network implementation than it could have had. But these are also not the main drawbacks that have to be mentioned here. Unfortunately, this mainboard is not stable enough at 1T Command Rate, which forces the users to have it running with less aggressive memory controller settings. And as a result, ASUS A8R-MVP turns out a not very fast platform for Socket 939 processors.

A few critical things should also be mentioned about the overclocking features of ASUS A8R-MVP platform. Unfortunately, they are not as attractive as those of other similar products. The mainboard doesn’t allow increasing the clock generator frequency a lot and doesn’t allow raising the processor Vcore over 1.5V. So, if you are an overclocking fan, then ASUS A8R-MVP may not be the best way to go.

Highs:

  • ATI Crossfire technology support;
  • Relatively low price;
  • Serial ATA controller with SATA-II, NCQ and RAID 5 support;
  • No fans for mainboard component cooling and intellectual management system for external fan rotation speed control.

Lows:

  • Unstable operation with 1T Command Rate;
  • Insufficient overclocking options;
  • Not the best Gigabit Ethernet controller connected to the PCI bus;
  • Not the most optimal audio codec with limited audio connectivity.
 
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