Sapphire A9RD580ADV on ATI Crossfire Xpress 3200



ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset was released long ago (by computer measures) - in March, 2006. During the announcement only 5 boards of various manufacturers were presented. And since then the quantity of new models has not practically increased.

Moreover, in the retailment the most often-met is one board only - ASUS A8R32-MVP, the others appear occasionally. Such a cool attitude to this chipset is explained by rather weak expansion capabilities. The situation still was tolerant when this chipset was completed with ULi M1575 southbridge. However, ULi has been bought by ATI competitor - NVIDIA Company, and after some pause, the latter has almost stopped delivering these chips. As a result, for producing the boards on Xpress 3200, manufacturers are compelled to use ATI SB450 southbridge with grotty characteristics (for example, there it has not Serial ATA II support). As a result, to raise the appeal of the products, additional on-board controllers are established on the motherboards.

However, now, developers' priorities are displaced towards Socket AM2 platform. Here again ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset will have a chance to declare itself, especially together with ATI SB600 southbridge. But it won't be able to succeed in the market of Socket 939 boards any more. However there is still a considerable quantity of budgetary systems' users who will be interested in the inexpensive board on Xpress 3200. In today's review the matter will concern exactly such board. Meet - Sapphire A9RD580ADV.

Sapphire A9RD580ADV specification

Sapphire A9RD580ADV

CPU

- AMD Athlon 64/Sempron with 200 Mhz bus frequency;
- Socket 939;

Chipset

- Northbridge ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200;
- Southbridge ATI SB450;
- Connection with CPU: HyperTransport bus (1616 bit);

RAM

- Four 184-pin slots for DDR SDRAM DIMM;
- Maximum memory volume 4 Gb;
- Dual-channel memory access is possible;
- Memory of PC2100/PC2700/PC3200 types is supported;
- Motherboard power indicator;

Graphics

- Two PCI Express x16 slots (in CrossFire mode slots use 16 PCI Express lines per slot);

Expansion capabilities

- Two 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots;
- Two PCI Express x1 slots;
- Eight USB 2.0 ports (4 built-in + 4 additional);
- Built-in High Definition Audio sound subsystem;
- 1 Gbit/s Ethernet network controller;
- 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet network controller;

Overclocking capabilities

- Changing HTT frequency from 200 Mhz to 500 Mhz with 1 Mhz step; multiplier factor changing;
- CPU and chipset voltage changing;

Drive subsystem

- 2 UltraDMA133/100/66/33 Bus Master IDE channels (support up to 4 ATAPI-devices & RAID 0, 1, 0+1 );
- Support of Serial ATA protocol (4 channels - SB450, with RAID support);
- Additional Serial ATA II RAID controller (Silicon Image Sil3132, 2 channels with RAID support);
- LS-120 / ZIP / ATAPI CD-ROM support;

BIOS

- 4 Mbit Flash ROM;
- Award Phoenix WorkstationBIOS with support of Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features and Trend Chip Away Virus;

Other

- One parallel port, FDD-port, ports for PS/2 mouse and keyboard;

- Motherboard power indicator;
- Power and Reset buttons;
- IrDA;
- STR (Suspend to RAM);
- SPDIF InOut;

Power management

- Wake-on by modem, mouse, keyboard, network, timer and USB;
- 24-pin ATX power connector (ATX-PW);
- Additional 8-pin power connector;

- Additional 4-pin Molex power connector;

Monitoring

- CPU temperature monitoring, voltage monitoring, determination of 2 fans speed;

Size

- ATX form factor, 244 mm x 305 mm (9.63" x 12");

Package set
  • Motherboard;
  • Software and drivers CD;
  • CD with additional software;
  • Users guide in English;
  • One ATA-133 cable, FDD cable;
  • One Serial ATA cable;
  • Case back panel gag.

    We see one of the most modest package sets able to be thought out. In particular, there are no bracket with USB ports, Serial ATA cables and power adapters. There isn't even any Parallel-ATA cable.

    On the contrary, the user's guide is detailed and informative enough. Unfortunately, there was no drivers CD in the box (likely, it will be present at retail), but there was a disk with 4 game demos (Brothers In Arms Road to Hill, Prince of Persia Warrior, Richard Burns Rally and Tony Hawk's Underground 2).

    And though at the moment of testing the board's retail price was unknown, but the preliminary mark for a package set will be about "D".

    Summary

    If one considers Sapphire A9RD580ADV board as a budgetary product there are no claims: quite good expansion capabilities, presence of overclocking functions, and support of CrossFire technology. However the exact information about retail price is still absent - in several offers around the Web the $142 price is specified. This is at least $40 - $50 more expensive than budgetary boards on nForce4 SLI. Accordingly, depending on exact information of the price (and this is the main "characteristic" of a budgetary product) we may whether recommend this board, or not.

    The conclusion
    Advantages:
  • Perfect stability and performance;
  • Support of CrossFire technology (2 PCI Express x16 slots);
  • Support of Serial ATA (4 channels; RAID) and Serial ATA II (2 channels; RAID);
  • Gigabit network controller + 100 Mbit/s controller;
  • 8-channel High Definition Audio sound subsystem;
  • Support of USB 2.0 (8 ports);
  • On-board Power and Reset buttons.
    Defects:
  • Certain BIOS flaws;
  • Poor package set.
    Motherboard features:
  • Weak overclocking results (HTT=240 MHz).


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