Motherboard Guide

AMD 790FX 4-Way Motherboard Roundup

AMD 790FX 4-Way Motherboard Roundup



ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe

ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe

The ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe was arguably one of the first few AMD 790FX models to leak to the public, and from initial pictures, it looked like ASUS was up to its usual tricks again with some heavy duty cooling planned. From what we know however, the AMD 790FX is a very cool chipset, so what's with all the hardware?

Like all ASUS flagship motherboard models, the M3A32-MVP Deluxe has a take-no-prisoner approach to design and feature set. For one, it is the only motherboard in our roundup to have a three pronged CPU cooler retention unit. While not required, the extra support it can offer larger CPU coolers is always welcomed. The M3A32-MVP Deluxe features an 8-phase PWM design that is similar to its Intel-based counterparts, but here, we've got two additional phases (effectively 8+2-phases) that is supposed to cater specifically for the CPU's integrated memory controller and HT bus. The heat-pipe system used on the board is actually quite slim and low profile, but that's only because the Cool Mempipe extension isn't attached yet.

ASUS may want to woo enthusiasts with the outlandish memory heat-pipe extension, but even they know that its use is probably limited, especially in the wake of high-performance memory today that already come with its own proprietary coolers. Thus, Cool Mempipe remains as an optional cooler that's bundled with the board, but not attached by default.

The M3A32-MVP Deluxe features four PCIe x16 slots. They are able to work in dual (x16/x16), triple (x16/x8/x8) or quad (x8/x8/x8/x8) modes for CrossFireX support. Other than that, the board features two extra PCI 2.2 slots for expansion and no PCIe x1 slots. Due to the compact layout of the board, the PCIe x16 slots favor a three card setup, and if you do go for broke with four cards, you might find it a very tight fit.

Feature-wise, the M3A32-MVP Deluxe comes fully packed with two additional SATA storage controllers that make up for two dedicated internal (Marvell 88SE6121) ports and one eSATA (Marvell 88SE6111) port, in addition to the four standard SATA 3.0Gbps ports available on the Southbridge. Do be careful during installation however, because of the confusing color coding used. At a glance, one will think that the two red ports are from the third party controller, but they're really the first two channels from the Southbridge.

As per ASUS, the M3A32-MVP Deluxe features an Analog Devices ADI1988 8-channel HD Audio CODEC as the sound controller of choice. You'll also get FireWire-400 support via agere L-FW3227-100 chipset, and surprisingly, the board only features one Gigabit LAN port. Still, with the busy layout, ASUS has managed to squeeze in their 802.11g WiFi-AP Solo wireless add-on card at the very corner to provide wireless LAN capability to the board.

Overall, we feel that the ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe is well designed, with a decent top half that has ample component spacing, but the bottom portion is a little cramped, especially its expansion slots.