by Rob Williams on September 18, 2006 in Motherboards
DFIs highly anticipated AM2 enthusiast board is finally here, after months of development. Like previous LanParty boards, this one caters to the overclocker, and simply checking out the BIOS screams that fact. Does it please this enthusiast? Read on…
When you think of performance parts for each type of hardware, there’s always a specific company that stands out in your mind. When it comes to motherboards, DFI is usually on top due to their passion for overclocking. These guys don’t just push out motherboards for the sake of it… they build motherboards because they, like us, have a passion for computing and tweaking. So, that usually results in a fantastic product.
Like the Ultra-D last year, the M2R/G packs a lot of promises. “Designed for Enthusiasts” could not be any more true. Just looking at the BIOS is awe inspiring… full of potential. That’s actually one of the main reasons this board will sell. Having the ability to reach such high voltages for both the Vdimm and Vcore is going to be welcomed by many. The board should actually come with a huge warning encouraging people to not use those settings unless they know what they are dealing with. I can see lots of CPU’s and Memory modules dying by those who are not paying attention :-)
What this board does provide, I am very satisfied with. One thing that did hit me the wrong way was the BIOS problems dealing with the IDE settings. I am unsure of the bug exactly, but on a stock BIOS, there is a good chance of freezing up in the first menu. To combat this bug without updating, you can surf through the other menus before heading into the first one, and then everything will be ok.
That in itself is a workaround, and I can highly recommend upgrading to the newest BETA BIOS if you pick up the board. Because of these issues though, I have to wonder what DFI’s QA is like. I am not the only one who suffered these problems… so it’s odd that it wasn’t caught during testing. Even more odd is the fact that the stock BIOS is still not available on their website, even though the boards been commercially available for a few weeks. This doesn’t look good from a business standpoint. So, if you are going to flash to the newest BETA BIOS, you may want a fresh dump of the stock one before you do. Hopefully DFI will have that BIOS on their website sooner than later, though.
In regards to the board itself, I am pleased with the layout. At first I didn’t think I’d enjoy the vertical ram slots or even the way the socket bracket is, but I’ve come to prefer them over previous methods. However, one thing I found about the ram slots is that for whatever reason, it makes it harder to install modules. More times than not, installing ram can be a mindless process… I’ve done it many times. However here I actually felt that I needed to be careful so as to not accidental snap the modules pins. You need to grip the module well and carefully push it down and secure it. A few times I thought I had the modules turned around the wrong way, but I didn’t. This is not a big deal, but was the first time I encountered this problem with a board.
The socket bracket may affect how you install your cooling solution. It could actually make things more difficult on you, depending on the specific cooler. Take the Zalman 9500 for instance. It’s designed to have a fan sucking air through, and push it towards the back of the case. In this instance though, after being installed the fan would either be blowing air up to the roof of the case or towards the bottom, instead of towards the back. As for water cooling though, in my instance it actually proved far better, leaving more actual room for airflow around the case. Again, your situation may differ.
Everything else is placed well on the board though. I do wish there were a couple fan power connectors close to the chipset, since there are absolutely none in that corner of the motherboard. There is one below the bottom PCI slot, but that’s the closest one to that area. Again, not really a problem per se, but it would have been welcomed.
Despite the harsh BIOS problems, I am awarding the SLI-M2R/G a 9 out of 10, in addition to our Editors Choice award. I must admit, the BIOS issue got to me, but the BETA takes care of the problem completely. If I run into further problems with this new BIOS I will update the review. However, in the couple days of using and tweaking with it, things are running smooth. The problem with the stock BIOS shouldn’t take away from the fact of what a great board this is.
In the time I’ve used it, the board has proved extremely stable sans the BIOS issue. It’s readily accepted five different kits of memory I installed, which says a lot. In the Ultra-D days, it seemed only 75% of kits would work well in the board. So, I am happy to see better compatibility here. In the end, this is going to be the AM2 overclocking board. The tweaking potential is intense… especially the fact of high voltages and extremely tight increments. This is the board we will likely see behind AM2 world records.
If you are an overclocker, aspiring overclocker, or just an enthusiast in general, this board was made for you. Don’t hesitate to pick one up.
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