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The Dual Graphics Platform Battle, Part 1

Asus A8R-MVP

Board Revision: 1.02g

BIOS Version: 0201

From a motherboard point of view, the A8R-MVP clearly is less sophisticated than the A8N32-SLI that uses the latest nForce4 SLI chipset. However, this does not necessarily mean that it's inferior - with the exception of the voltage regulators, since these rely on only three phases. We believe that this is no longer satisfactory for enthusiast products.

The motherboard is Asus-brown, as we were accustomed to - until AOpen started to introduce a black PCB color to the enthusiast mainstream in 2000 and everybody felt compelled to follow. We found the usual features here, such as two UltraATA ports; four Serial ATA connectors; two headers for a total of four additional USB 2.0 ports (which complement the four ports that can be found in the back panel); an IEEE-1394a Firewire controller; and a Gigabit Ethernet controller by Marvell.

Asus decided to run only a single x1 PCI Express expansion slot on the motherboard, in favor of offering three 32 bit PCI slots. While PCI Express clearly is the future, a larger number of regular PCI slots will remain more useful, at least for the coming year.

While Asus has made considerable efforts to increase component cooling on its nForce4 SLI motherboards, this product seems to be rather easier to handle in that respect. Both the north and the south bridge are equipped with heat sinks, as are the voltage regulators. The motherboard can be operated without any active fan on it, a 'feature' that we really value these days.