This board is still one of the best Socket-A Motherboards money can buy. The nForce 2 Ultra-400 Chipset is great for overclocking, and this board can hit front side buses of 220+ with ease. Whilst if you want a slightly higher (10-20mHz) fsb a DFI board would suit you better, this board performs the same at lower speeds. The Northbridge fan can sometimes be a little whiney, but that is easily replaced. The heatsink mounting holes are extremely useful for heavier heatsinks such as the Thermalright SP-97 and waterblocks if watercooling is your bag. The board's onboard SoundStorm which provides 6 channel sound is excellent for onboard sound, but there are known issues with sound corruption with certain BIOS versions.
I bought this mobo for the first computer system i've ever built from scratch, and i have to say it is incredible. There is so much fun to be had, you can change a million and one settings from the BIOS, its great! ***Ok first things first CPU installation was a sinch, drop the CPU into the socket and push the leaver down. Give the die a nice clean along with the contact spot on the heatsink, slap (well not exactly) some Arctic Silver III on, and on goes the the heatsink. There are 4 mounting holes around the socket for the oversized overclocking heatsinks, and the board is very acomodating. ***Ram installation was the only problem i really came across, but to be honest i really felt like i was going to snap the board in half. I was truly petrified because i had to press so hard to get the damn DIMM in. It could have just been my modules but....... no probs anyway, the solidly built board was fine. (This is gonna make me sound a little stupid, but i dropped a magnetic screwdriver onto the board, from quite a height. I think i screamed something like "oops", well along those lines. Anyhoo the board was fine after that so i think these things can take some fair amount of punishment.) ***Connections are really easy to find and are all located pretty sensibly, so even after you've got the mobo screwed into the case it's easy to mess around with jumpers, case fans, SATA connections etc. The manual gives precise details of what each pin does, so even if you've got a lame case manual you can pretty much work out which way round the power button wire goes. So finally after closing it all up..... the moment of truth, hit the power button and see what happens................. On comes the screen "whooooo", there is my SATA hard disk, CD-ROM drives fine. So i go straight into the bios and see what i can play with. Ooh, whats this multiplyer setting. And FSB too. I cranked the FS
B up to 200Mhz (400Mhz DDR) played with the memory timings, and turned down the multiplier a little. Set thermal protection on!!! and reboot. I couldn't believe it, my 2500+ was now a 3000+ with a fairly standard Zalman silent cooler and only a few seconds of tweaking! Threw in the Win XP Cd installs like a dream and no stability problems since. The board comes with a monitoring utility which gives you three onboard temperatures, 1 on the CPU, 1 on the mobo, and 1 optional. It also gives you fan speeds and adjusts them realtime depending on the temperature. This is very useful if you are going for a quiet system, but still need to max the CPU out on Unreal 2003. ***Conclusion: Basically this is the best AMD board out there for overclocking without a doubt. Incredi bly stable, fast and hardly any chance of destroying the CPU. Highly recommended!! Even for the End-User this board is perfect, although probably a little expensive. Abit constantly support the board too, they literally release a new BIOS every month or so compared to my old gateway motherboard which had 1 driver update in its lifetime. The board has everything you will ever need and more (quick list) - *FSB 400 (support for Barton 3200+ and beyond) *Serial ATA (Supporting RAID - get striping, sooo cool) *IEEE1394 *USB 2.0 (of course) *DDR-400 (Dual Channel) *SP/DIF output (kinda nice for minidiscs) *Built in 6 channel sound (Dobly Digital) *AGP 8x *5 PCI slots *CPU Hardware thermal protection On the downside, there are only 2 rear USB ports, however there is an additional panel which comes in the box with 2 more, and support for 2 more on the case, but still 4 in the rear would be nice. The box comes with a cheep SATA cable, and the usual IDE and Floppy cables (rounded would be nice seeing as the board is made for overclockers!) There is also a fan on the northbridge, which for some people may
be a problem if they are going for an ultra-quiet system. But no overclocker really is. **************************Important Note****************************** Make sure you get the revision 2.0 (v2.0) board because there are still some revision v1.2's around, and the revision 2.0 board officially supports FSB 400, unlike the older board which is unstable and will not overclock as far.