Avant-Garde: Four boards for AMD's Athlon 64 FX

Summary: MSI In The Lead Thanks To Smart Choice Of Chipset

Currently there is nothing anyone can do about it: The nForce3 150 will lag a little behind as long as the chipset cannot supply the Hypertransport downlink with 16 bits and 800 MHz. Although this detail is only important if high graphics performance is in demand, the Athlon 64 FX-51 was, after all, developed for extreme challenges.

They tied on the processor load benchmarks: There was a tie with MainConcept 1.31 (MPEG-2 encoding), XMPEG 5 (MPEG-4 encoding), 3DStudio Max 5, MP3 Maker 2004 and in the synthetic benchmarks Sandra MAX3 and PC Mark 2002.

If the main point of the FX system is going to be games, you can immediately reach for a board with nForce3 150 - as long as the features are right. This is where Gigabyte really cleans up, because with two network ports (one of which is Gigabit-enabled), the best overclocking features in the test, Serial ATA and UltraATA/133 RAID and IEEE1394b (FireWire with 800 Mbit/s), the K8NNXP boasts the best technical features. One spot on the escutcheon is the benchmark results, in which this board will have to admit defeat.

The SK8N shows the typical Asus virtues, because it runs efficiently and reliably, is equipped with reasonable features (Serial ATA, FireWire) and at 200.0 MHz FSB speed it works exactly as fast as the specifications say it does. MSI is above this, and Gigabyte even slightly below. We will ignore the SK8V for now, since neither the board nor the BIOS were available in a retail version.

Currently our board of choice is the K8T Master, if performance is of primary importance. Gigabyte is ironing out the slight weakness of the nForce3 chipset with features that, bought individually, surely would cost as much as the board itself. Asus is taking the same line with its SK8V and also adds a port for wireless LAN.