So far there are very few AM2+ motherboards on the market, with most of them coming from ASUS itself and Gigabyte. The ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe is actually the first AM2+ motherboard we have been able to test so far and as a result we were unable to compare it to another AM2+ board. We had to resort to comparing it against the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe which uses the high-end Intel X38 chipset and supports Core 2 processors. On the other hand, this gave us a clearer understanding of how the new Phenom platform stands up to the mighty Core 2 Quad.
Unfortunately for the most part the Phenom was slower, though there were a few tests that placed the 2.2GHz model within range of the Q6600. The biggest downfall of our Phenom 9500 processor was in gaming tests. Dropping roughly 10fps in Crysis was shocking to see and this was certainly the biggest disappointment of the Phenom for us. If regardless of the Phenom performance you have your heart set on this new AMD platform, then the ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe is certainly worth a look as it is quite possibly the best AM2+ motherboard available at this point in time.
But before you run to buy one, note that we have had very little success overclocking our Phenom 9500 processor on the M3A32-MVP Deluxe. We are still unsure if it is the processor that is being stubborn or if the board is in need of a BIOS update.
In terms of features the M3A32-MVP Deluxe was fairly well equipped, even for a $230 motherboard. ASUS has included six onboard SATA ports, along with an extra eSATA connection on the I/O panel, which allows this board to compete with high-end Intel P35 and X38 boards. There are also six USB 2.0 ports located on the I/O panel with another two headers on-board for an additional four ports. The board includes HD audio, Firewire, wireless networking as well as Gigabit LAN, which are all the kind of basic requisites on a true high-end motherboard.
Adding to the boards value is an excellent bundle from ASUS which includes a fan, omni-directional antenna, Q-Connectors, Firewire + USB bracket, Q-Shield, ASUS CrossFire bridge cable, along with a heap of SATA, data and power cables. Of course the mandatory users manual and software are included, so you get a very round package.
The ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe is a solid product for those looking at building a new Phenom system or alternatively for those looking at building an Athlon64 X2 system with the ability to upgrade in the future, if either of those scenarios make sense to you at the moment.