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Loaded with chips
The A8V Deluxe is anchored by VIA's K8T800 Pro chipset, but the board also has a smattering of extra chips to feed its on-board peripherals.

Rather than go into painstaking detail on the K8T800 Pro, I'll point you to our review of the chipset. Suffice to say that the K8T800 Pro is a lot like the K8T800 with two exceptions. First, the K8T800 Pro bumps the chipset's Hyper-Transport link from 800MHz to 1GHz. Second, the K8T800 Pro's AGP and PCI clocks can run asynchronously, although it's up to a board's BIOS to implement an AGP/PCI bus lock.

At the south bridge, the K8T800 Pro is identical to the K8T800¬óboth chipsets use VIA's VT8237 south bridge, which is equipped with two channels of ATA/133, two channels of Serial ATA 150 that can be configured in RAID 0 and 1 arrays, and support for eight USB ports.

The VT8237 south bridge also comes with a six-channel AC'97 audio controller, but that's apparently not enough output channels for Asus. The A8V Deluxe uses Realtek's ALC850 codec to deliver eight channels of software-accelerated AC'97 audio. Don't expect high-definition audio, though. The ALC850 only supports resolutions and sampling rates up to 16 bits and 48kHz.

Asus also bypasses the VT8237's integrated 10/100 Fast Ethernet in favor of Marvell's 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet controller. Unfortunately, the Marvell chip is bound to the PCI bus, which it has to share with other integrated peripherals and the board's five PCI slots.

Even without any PCI cards, the A8V Deluxe's Gigabit Ethernet chip has to share limited PCI bus bandwidth with VIA's VT6307 Firewire chip and Promise's PDC20378 RAID controller. It's doubtful that Firewire will monopolize the board's PCI bus, but the Promise RAID chip supports concurrent ATA and Serial ATA arrays, plus arrays spanning both ATA and SATA devices, so it's a potential bandwidth hog.

A little something extra
As if the A8V Deluxe's cornucopia of on-board peripherals weren't enough, Asus also ships the board with a "WiFi-g" wireless networking card.

The card fits in a standard PCI slot and is based on Ralink's RT2560F 802.11g Wi-Fi chip. When used with Asus's software, the card can be configured as a network adapter, an access point, or a bridge between wired and wireless networks. The card also comes with an external antenna on an 80" wire, making it easy to tweak antenna positioning for optimal signal strength.

Now I don't want to go off on a rant here... but the WiFi-g card is perhaps what impresses me most about the A8V Deluxe, even if it's not integrated directly onto the board. While I'm all for high-end boards sporting Gigabit Ethernet, it's nice to see 802.11g getting some well-deserved attention. I'd wager that the majority of mainstream users and even enthusiasts are more likely to take advantage of integrated or bundled Wi-Fi than a second Gigabit Ethernet option. It's probably not a good idea to supplant GigE with Wi-Fi, even on mainstream boards, but it's hard to beat a GigE/802.11g combo.