I am fairly sure that a lot of you have glanced at AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-51 at one stage or another and wished you could afford one. But it’s not only the processor that will set you back a small fortune as you need special memory and a specific type of motherboard for it to work. A cheaper alternative would be to get one of the 14x series of Opteron processors, but again you need the same expensive memory and motherboard.
There are quite a few motherboards available and Asus was one of the first motherboard manufacturers to launch a single processor solution for the Socket 940 platform. The SK8V is Asus’ latest single processor socket 940 board and it’s based on the VIA K8T800 chipset. What gives the socket 940 processors an advantage over the socket 754 based ones is the ability to use dual-channel DDR memory.
This will change later this year though, when AMD introduces the consumer level socket 939 for the Athlon 64. This will use standard DDR memory, instead of the far harder to find and considerably more expensive registered memory that the current socket 940 platform is using.
But let’s get on with the subject at hand and take a closer look at the features of the SK8V. As with all socket 940 boards the SK8V supports dual channel memory and Asus has fitted four memory slots to make the most out of this. There are three IDE connectors and four S-ATA connectors, but one of the IDE and two of the S-ATA connectors belong to a Promise RAID controller. You are therefore limited to two separate RAID arrays (one using the Promise controller and one using the RAID controller built into the Southbridge) if you intend to use four S-ATA drives with the SK8V.
Other features include onboard 3Com Gigabit Ethernet, two FireWire ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and 5.1-channel sound along with optical and coaxial S/PDIF output. The onboard sound is a little better than on most boards being provided by an Analog Devices AD1985 chipset, which offers better signal to noise ratio than most AC97 solutions. There is also a proprietary Asus WiFi slot on the motherboard to which a wireless network card can be added.
General board layout is good and there are no major complaints, but the onboard FireWire header would have been more useful in the front instead of the header for the joystick port. But this is a minor issue and only matters if your case has a front mounted FireWire port.
You’ll find a good array of accessories in the box including a FireWire bracket, a USB bracket with four ports, a bracket with optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs, S-ATA data and power cables, as well as three IDE cables and a floppy drive cable.
One interesting accessory is the inclusion of a set of stickers for the keyboard which shows what keys to use with the Asus Instant Music BIOS based CD playback software. There is also a CD supplied with interVideo WinDVD Suite which consists of WinDVD, WinDVD Creator and WinRip