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The new AMD 790FX/SB600 chipset features include dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 ports, six PCI Express x1 ports, ten USB 2.0 ports and HD Audio. The SB600 south bridge chip is missing Ethernet and RAID5 support, while it also offers less USB 2.0 and SATA ports when compared to the Intel ICH9R south bridge. The M3A32-MVP Deluxe features four DDR2 memory DIMM slots with official support for 533/667/800/1066 memory (non-ECC, un-buffered), though official DDR2-1066 memory support is limited to AM2+ processors.
The board features four PCIe x16 slots and no PCIe x1 slots. Please note that the M3A32-MVP Deluxe features ATI CrossFireX support using quad PCIe x8 bandwidth across the four PCI Express x16 ports. Those using typical CrossFire with two graphics cards can use the full PCIe x16 bandwidth. On a side note, this AMD chipset does not support SLI which is still exclusively only supported by Nvidia chipsets.
The High Definition Audio is supported by the ADI AD1988 HD Audio CODEC featuring Optical and coaxial S/PDIF support via the I/O panel. The ADI AD1988 audio codec has been heavily used by ASUS in the past, so we are quite accustomed to finding it on their more high-end motherboards. ASUS has gone with a single Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit Ethernet controller which uses the PCI Express bus for maximum throughput.
There are two versions of the ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe, one with the WiFi-AP and one without. The model we have here today features the WiFi-AP which supports 54 Mbps IEEE 802.11g while also offering backwards compatibility with 11 Mbps IEEE 802.11b. Through the use of software this WiFi device can act as an access point or alternatively operate in station mode, infrastructure mode or Ad-Hoc mode.
The AMD 790FX/SB600 chipset combination is actually quite average when it comes to storage capabilities, as it offers just four SATA 3Gb/s ports with RAID 0, 1, and 0+1 support. Given that the majority of high-end motherboards now offer at least six SATA ports, featuring just four on the M3A32-MVP Deluxe would not have justified the $230 currently being asked for the board. Therefore ASUS has included two Marvell controllers using the 88SE6121 and 88SE6111 controllers for two additional onboard SATA 3Gb/s ports with RAID 0, and 1 support, along with an external SATA 3Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go).
For the MOSFETs, ASUS decided to use Low RDS (on) MOSFETs. These are MOSFETs that are specially designed to produce lower switching for faster electric current charging and discharging. The benefits of using these more expensive components is that Low RDS (on) MOSFETs have lower power consumption during the switching process, resulting in a faster switching process and less heat!
For the chokes, ASUS has used a more expensive ferrite choke. Ferrite chokes are comprised of a compound of iron-oxide and other metal elements whose properties hold energy much longer than common iron-core chokes at high frequency. This means there is reduced core energy loss and lower EMI interference for extended system reliability. In addition, ferrite core chokes resist rust better than iron-core chokes. While many of you probably haven't experienced rust issues on your motherboards, for users in humid climates, especially around coastal areas where there is a high concentration of salt in the air, this can make a big difference.
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