A year ago, when DFI released the NF4 LANParty Series, there were a lot of small issues — mostly BIOS issues that pop up with any release. It didn’t take DFI long to sort them out, and now those boards are without a doubt the motherboard of choice for anyone serious about overclocking. I see the RDX200 CF-DR in much the same light. This board has so much potential, yet a few flaws could end up dooming it. One issue I think does reflect badly on DFI is the USB support issue that causes the system to hang when booting. Although there is a work around (disable USB Mouse and Keyboard support in the BIOS) and I’m sure a fix in the near future…. it should have been fixed before the product was released to consumers. DFI is not alone in doing this as several companies have released products with quirks.
On a related note, the usage of ATI SB450 southbridge chipset surprised me, considering the general consensus that the chip is a chronic poor performer. While on one hand this is a small issue in that the USB transfer rates are quite a bit slower, that isn’t my big complaint here. With the move to SATA 2.5, how can a board with so much right go so wrong? The RDX200 CF-DR’s failure to support such features as NCQ (Native Command Queuing) and 3.0GB/s transfer really won’t affect you now….. but what about 4-6 months down the road when SATA 2.5 features really take root?
As far as my recommendation I am completely torn here. I have been a big DFI fan for almost two year, dating back to the i875 Rev B boards. I’ve seen DFI boards start out with issues, then a short time later shake whatever bug they had and turn out to be an outstanding choice. With a BIOS deeper than their NF4 boards and excellent overclocking potential, the RDX200 CF-DR COULD BE a damn fine board. When it came to the layout I had an issue with the DIMM slot configuration, but that was offset by the fact most CPU Coolers will provide enough cooling that it won’t cause problems. I was also happy to see the PCI-E x16 slots spaced far enough apart to satisfy any cooling solution on the video cards. Lastly, I sincerely appreciate DFI doing away with the jumper setup they used with their NF4 boards. I know was not the only one who hated changing those things back and forth!
As far as performance I felt the RDX200 CF-DR was up to the challenge. Considering the handicap placed on it with the X850 Crossfire setup, it performed admirably. I feel that once ATI releases their X1800XT Crossfire Edition cards we’ll really see a battle between ATI and NVidia for top dog of the graphics solutions. When it came to overclocking, the RDX200 CF-DR was outstanding, but what else would you expect from DFI?
The Legit Bottom Line
There is so much to love about this board. With a better developed BIOS over that of their NF4 boards and excellent overclocking potential, the RDX200 CF-DR is better than some companies flagship motherboards. While the board has its strong points it also has several flaws that are of concern. The RDX200 is simply a very good board, while the DFI NF4 LANParty SLI board is still the great board.