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

In The Spotlight: FX Boards From Asus, Gigabyte And MSI

The thing about celebrities is their popularity. Even if you are lucky enough to see them, you can usually forget about any kind of one-on-one interaction - unless you're very lucky, rich or both. It's the same with the Athlon 64 FX, which remain short in supply and the selection of boards is not very broad. They can be ordered, but the back order list can be long, and the price steep.

However, even if only small quantities are available to begin with, the 64 bit contender has already made a name for itself. That's how it happened at the first German Overclocking Championship at the end of October, during which a compressor-cooled Athlon 64 FX was voted the fastest PC. We managed to overclock a similar Athlon 64 FX system in the lab to 2.8 GHz.

There's no question about it - it's fast. Two obstacles, however, are slowing the success of this CPU: For one, the uncertainty over availability, for another the rather high price - due to its complexity - of about $740. These are the reasons why even mainboard manufacturers are still nobly keeping their distance. Understandably so, because hardly anyone wants to get stuck with their products at the end of the holiday season. On the other hand, AMD is sounding the all-clear: according to a statement by media spokesman Jan Gutter, there are plenty of Athlon 64 FX's available. We can confirm that - several well-known online dealers assured us we would get factory shipments.

Showing more courage than the rest of the Taiwanese mainboard manufacturers in this respect, the three premium brands Asus, Gigabyte and MSI offer suitable boards for the Athlon 64 FX, even if initially there were more rumors than concrete statements about the quantity of processors available.

Asus and Gigabyte rely on the nForce3 chipset from NVIDIA, while MSI uses the K8T800 from VIA. In addition to somewhat better performance, the VIA chipset offers a current Southbridge that provides two Serial ATA ports. Boards with nForce3 rely on an additional chip, as is typical for Asus and Gigabyte.