There is very little to wish for apart from the already included features and this makes the SK8V a very good base for a high-end PC. In terms of BIOS and software features Asus has added a few tweaks of its own including voice diagnostics (yes, the motherboard will tell you what has gone wrong), automatic fan adjustment and you can even create your own BIOS logo. One of the features that may interest potential buyers is the Instant Play audio CD playback utility that allows you to play music CDs without booting into the operating system. This is a novel feature, but not exclusive to Asus.
The performance results are close to what I expected and as we have only tested a couple of FX-51 PCs to date, I’ll compare some of the results to faster of the two. The SK8V board is a couple of points slower in SYSmark 2002 than the Evesham Axis FX51 but this could have something to do with the fact that the Evesham system featured a hard drive RAID, which would add some performance advantage.
The remaining benchmark scores are actually a step up from the Evesham, but this is harder to explain as the Axis FX51 was fitted with the same motherboard. However a newer BIOS version was used on this board along with newer device drivers.
There were however some slight stability issues during some of the benchmarks, but most where solved by applying a patch to the benchmark in question. The only concern here was that SPECviewperf did have problems running on the SK8V but it managed to complete in the end.
All in all the SK8V is an impressive board and an excellent platform for anyone looking at building themselves a high-performance PC or entry level workstation. So what about the price? Well, the SK8V is one of the cheapest FX-51/Opteron boards out there at a very reasonable £145.70. This is not cheap compared to a basic Athlon 64 board that you can easily find around the £100 mark, but if you want to run the top-performing AMD processor you’re going to have to dig a bit deeper.
The SK8V is a top performer with plenty of features at a reasonable price. It may be more expensive than standard Athlon 64 motherboards, but if you’ve decided on an FX51 processor, you can probably afford it.
The Asus SK8V motherboard was tested using an Athlon 64 FX-51 processor, 1GB of Corsair TwinX registered memory, a Connect3D Radeon 9200, a Crucial Radeon 9800Pro and a Seagate Barracuda ATA V hard drive.