ASUS M3A32-MVP DeLuxe/WiFi-AP has six SATA-300 ports, four controlled by the SB600 south bridge, supporting RAID 0, 1, and 0+1, and two controlled by a Marvell 88E6121 chip, supporting RAID 0 and 1. The SB600 south bridge also controls one ATA-133 port available and a Marvell 88SE6111 chip controls an eSATA-300 port available on the rear panel. The SATA ports are placed in parallel to the board (see Figure 3), so video cards won’t close them as it sometimes happens when using regular SATA plugs that are placed perpendicular to the board.
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Figure 3: SATA ports.
The audio section from this motherboard provides 7.1 audio, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of an Analog Devices AD1988B codec, which provides a 92 dB signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs and 101 dB SNR for its outputs and a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz for both inputs and outputs. These specs are terrific for the mainstream user.
This board has one coaxial and one optical SPDIF output soldered directly on the motherboard, which is great as you can easily connect it to your home theater receiver.
ASUS M3A32-MVP DeLuxe/WiFi-AP has ten USB 2.0 ports, six soldered on the rear panel and four available through two headers, and this motherboard comes with an I/O bracket with two ports. This motherboard also has two FireWire ports controlled by an Agere L-FW3227 chip. One of the ports is located on the motherboard rear panel, and the other is available through an I/O header, which comes with the board.
In Figure 4, you can see the motherboard rear panel with one antenna connector for the on-board WiFi access point, PS/2 keyboard connector, six USB 2.0 ports, coaxial and optical digital audio (SPDIF) outputs, one FireWire port, one eSATA port, one Gigabit Ethernet port and complete set of 7.1 audio jacks.
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Figure 4: Motherboard rear panel.
As you can see, this motherboard does not have a PS/2 mouse connector, so you have to use a USB mouse with this motherboard. This board also doesn’t have parallel and serial ports, although one serial port is available through an I/O bracket that doesn’t come with the product.
M3A32-MVP DeLuxe/WiFi-AP has “only” one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Marvell 88E8056 chip, which is connected to the south bridge chip through a PCI Express x1 bus. We say “only” because almost all top motherboards have two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
One of the most different features present on this motherboard is its 801.g/b WiFi access point, which is based on an Atheros AR2425 chip. An integrated access point allows you to share your broadband internet connection (and also files and printers) wirelessly with other computers around your office or home without the need of a wireless broadband router, so you can save some bucks (even though the cost of this access point is embedded on the motherboard cost, of course). Of course your other computers will need a wireless network card installed.
IEEE 802.11g specification allows networks running up to 54 Mbps, if you also have IEEE 802.11g cards on your other computers. If you don’t, the on-board access point will work at 802.11b, with a maximum transfer rate of 11 Mbps. Of course your internet speed will be limited by your broadband connection: if you have a 2 Mbps connection that will be the maximum transfer rate you will get on the internet. The 54 Mbps or 11 Mbps transfer rates will only be available for local file transfers – i.e., for transferring files from one computer to another. With more and more digital contents like movies being produced and saved on hard disk drives, the higher your network speed the better for transferring files between computers. Even though if you are really worried about speed you will probably build a cabled network using a Gigabit switch in order to achieve 1,000 Mbps when transferring files between your computers.
M3A32-MVP DeLuxe/WiFi-AP comes with one omini-directional antenna. According to ASUS the operating ranges for its on-board access point are the following:
- IEEE 802.11g: 200 ft (60 m) outdoor or 80 ft (30 m) indoor.
- IEEE 802.11b: 1000 ft (310 m) outdoor or 130 ft (40 m) indoor.
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Figure 5: The on-board access point.