Over the years, DFI has had a lot of success selling motherboards to hardware enthusiasts and die-hard overclockers because of the insane overclocks that were possible on the boards. The LANParty nF4 series was an incredible success for both DFI and NVIDIA, as it helped NVIDIA's SLI technology to gain momentum at the high end.
When ATI's CrossFire technology launched late last year, DFI was one of the first motherboard manufacturers to release its CrossFire Xpress 200 motherboard, known as the RDX200 CF-DR. We had a slew of problems with the board when running CrossFire mode and never got the board working with two cards installed. The board was great when running in single card mode though.
Back at the beginning of March, ATI launched its RD580 north bridge under the guise of CrossFire Xpress 3200. We had a look at ASUS' A8R32-MVP Deluxe motherboard on launch day, as they were the only motherboard partner to launch in tandem with ATI. At CeBIT, Sapphire announced its RD580 board, which is said to be a tremendous overclocker, despite having a few layout niggles on first inspection.
Last week, DFI announced its own RD580 implementation. It is known as the LANParty UT CFX3200-DR and comes in true LANParty colours. The bright flourescent yellow colour scheme spreads right across the motherboard. Lets forget the bright colours for now though - is this the ultimate enthusiast-orientated CrossFire motherboard? We have the answers right here...
Supports all Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64/FX/X2 CPUs with Cool 'n' Quiet technology;
Four DDR memory slots supporting up to 4GB of DDR400;
ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 north bridge (RD580), ULi M1575 south bridge;
Two full bandwidth PCI-Express x16 slots with CrossFire support, two PCI-Express x1 slots and three PCI expansion slots;
7.1 channel Realtek ALC882 High Definition Azalia audio with RCA S/PDIF In and Out;
Four ULi M1575 SATA 300MBps ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD configs;
Silicon Image 3114 SATA controller with four SATA 150MBps ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD configs;
Two Marvell Yukon PCI-Express based Gigabit Ethernet controllers (88E8052 and 88E8053) with support for Teaming Technology and Redundant Link Management Technology (RLMT);
Support for eight USB 2.0 ports (six on back I/O panel and two via on-board pin headers);
Support for two IEEE 1394a connectors (one on the back I/O panel and one via on-board pin headers);
Two ATA133 connectors and one floppy drive connector.
One Karajan audio module;
Two yellow rounded IDE cables;
One yellow rounded floppy connector;
Four yellow SATA cables;
Two SATA power cables;
Rear I/O bracket;
Drivers and motherboard utilities CD;
SATA RAID driver disk;
User manual and quick install guide.
The bundle included with the LANParty UT CFX3200-DR is adequate but not as comprehensive as it could have been. However, it's worth noting that the LANParty UT series is is not the all-bells, all-whistles flagship product category; the UT part defines it as a mid-range bundle. Regular full-blooded LANParty series boards come with a huge box containing just about everything you'd ever need but for now, there is only a UT edition of the CFX3200-DR.
It would have been nice to see eight SATA cables included, but four is generally enough for most circumstances. The rounded cables seemed to be of high quality - just like you'd buy off the shelf. This is good to see, as some of the company's previous rounded IDE cables were a little sub-standard.
The manual is comprehensive, but there were some things missing from it: the main thing is the lack of any reference to the on-board POST display readout decoder. This renders the POST display readout decoder a little useless - if your board doesn't boot, you get a code but you have no idea what it means, defeating the very purpose of such a display. Hopefully DFI will release a decoder onto its website.
The only other issue we found with the bundle was the lack of any PCI blanking plates for the IEEE1394 Firewire or USB 2.0 headers on the board. However, many cases do include front panel connections for USB 2.0 and Firewire. Also, there is a single Firewire connector on the back I/O panel, along with the six USB 2.0 connections.