Checking Out Six New AMD Motherboards - Page 9

-SR"> Another board fit for the masses but a bane to DIYers, the DFI AD70-SR is packed with features but needs too much physical handling to score points with tweakers.

Jumpers allow you to toggle 5V power for the integrated USB ports and the pinouts for USB2 and 3. You also set the FSB voltage with a jumper, and changing the CPU multiplier requires manipulating a DIP switch--although you can adjust the voltage through the BIOS utility.

Considering all the real estate on this big board, DFI did a stunningly inefficient job laying it out; they completely failed to take advantage of its space. Theres enough empty room around the north bridge to build a house. There are only five PCI slots, but there should be room for six; it sports three DIMM sockets, but theres sufficient acreage for a fourth. The CPU socket is on the very edge of the board, which puts it within an amoebas breath of the power supply. The EIDE and floppy connectors are clustered tightly together, but the Promise 20265R-powered RAID connectors have some breathing room.

DFI scores points for documentation. In addition to the motherboard manual and a separate manual for RAID administration, the board includes an old fashioned, glue-backed, notated diagram of the board that you can stick to the inside of your case for reference.

case sticker

The DFI is an all-around solid performer, kicking particular butt in Windows Me game testing. It took the checkered flag in the 3DMark tests and the GameGauge composite score--but suffered in our Quake 3 Arena high-polygon test (using the VIA demo).

With its impressive stability and friendly documentation, this board might be the foundation for a decent server or a power hungry, but tweak-shy gamer. Unfortunately, it doesnt have much in the way of features for its price, and its layout is atrocious. DIYers who have a penchant for experimentation would definitely be better off looking elsewhere.

Price: $100-125
Pros: Very stable; great game performance
Cons: Poor layout; DIP switch reliance for CPU ratio tweaking
Score: 7/10