Asus's A8R-MVP motherboard
CrossFire on a budget
ALTHOUGH ATI'S CROSSFIRE
multi-GPU rendering technology has become a reasonable alternative to SLI, the Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire Edition chipset is still saddled with a comparatively poor south bridge chip. ATI's SB450 is missing a number of handy features, such as support for Native Command Queuing and RAID 0+1 and 5 arrays. More importantly, though, it's plagued by I/O issues that hinder USB and PCI performance. That latter is particularly damning, as it can affect the performance of onboard Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet, and Serial ATA peripherals.
Fortunately, the CrossFire Edition chipset has an ace up its sleeve. Its north bridge is capable of interfacing with alternative south bridge chips, including those built by ULi. Asus has taken advantage of that capability with the A8R-MVP, a CrossFire-capable motherboard built with ULi's M1575 south bridge. The M1575 fills in many of the features missing from the SB450, and it shouldn't suffer from the I/O performance problems that afflict the SB450.
Of course, the A8R-MVP is more than just a showcase for a unique chipsets combo. At under $100 online, it's also one of the most affordable CrossFire boards around. Oh, and it overclocks like a mofo, too. Keep reading for more on what may be the most attractive CrossFire board on the market.