So, what is the new AMD chipset good at? Let's see... It's not faster than its competitors in conventional application benchmarks, because there simply is not much room left for improvement. Nor does it offer a more extensive feature set: it lacks RAID 5 support, has four instead of six SATA ports, operates dual PCI Express graphics at x8 link speed while Nvidia offers dual x16, and it doesn't even carry an integrated network controller. And it doesn't shine in our USB 2.0 and Serial ATA RAID performance testing either. We also forgot to mention that it comes half a year late. Well, it has to be cheaper than the other chipsets then? Nah, that's not the case either: DFI's LanParty UT ICFX3200-T2R retails at $250. What a slap in the face.
Allow us to leave aside the megalomania that seems to have captured the chipset battlefield, and we will also recognize that the Crossfire Xpress 3200 for Intel does still come with everything you need for a powerful system. It runs as fast as the other chipset options unless you want to argue that the tiny differences we measured are really worth consideration. RAID 5 support can be added via third party products - which the provider of our test sample, DFI, did by putting a Promise SATA controller onto its motherboard - and so can network chips. We haven't talked much from a graphics standpoint. If you care about running dual graphics with the option to upgrade a physics accelerator card on the ATI front, this chipset is a better choice than Intel's 975X.
The bottom line? AMD's new product rolls, but it's up to the motherboard manufacturers to make it rock as well. In this context, let me make clear that DFI really deserves kudos. AMD/ATI did provide any product sampling program for its latest product, deferring this thankful task to its partner DFI. While we don't particularly care about the source of a motherboard that we use for first contact with new technology, I have to say that the LanParty UT ICFX3200-T2R did an amazing job. This board will give an enthusiast with sympathies for ATI graphics all that he or she wants, assuming that the average interface performance numbers are acceptable. It offers up-to-date performance, a comprehensive feature set including the third PCI Express slot for a possible physics upgrade, an upgrade path from dual cores to quad core processors, and an overclocking range that will have you leaping for joy.