Heatsink and Motherboard
Heatsink – Thermaltake Venus 12
When the Athlon 64 FX-51 first emerged, availability was laughable, at best. In fact, the processors were impossible to track down for nearly a month following launch. Things aren’t so bad any more, and if you have the scratch for an Athlon 64, an online search should yield pages of results.
Thermaltake Venus 12 cooler
A good number of those chips are of the tray variety, otherwise known as OEM parts. They don’t come bundled with heatsinks and they generally include between 30- and 90-day warrantees. If you don’t mind that route, your first order of business is to track down a capable cooling solution. The Athlon 64 infrastructure is still maturing and there aren’t many high-performance coolers out there just yet, but Thermaltake’s Venus 12 does everything we’d want it to and more.
The 760g heatsink is large to be sure, weighing in with 73 copper fins for maximizing cooling capacity. And while its 80mm fan might suggest noisy operation, the Venus 12 can be tuned to run between 2000 and 5500 RPM generating anywhere from 21 to 48dB of noise. It comes with two controllers – one that fits in a 3.5”drive bay for easy access and another that occupies a PCI slot for inconspicuousness. Admittedly, the Venus 12 is obnoxiously noisy at its fastest setting, which should only be necessary for aggressive overclocking. Stock frequencies necessitate somewhere closer to 3000RPM for stability. And at that speed, the Venus 12 is fairly quiet.
Motherboard – ASUS SK8V K8T800 Motherboard
Most motherboard manufacturers have thus far been reluctant to roll out Socket 940 motherboards. With a Socket 939 variant of the Athlon 64 FX planned, the current solution seems like a stopgap product, despite AMD’s claims to move forward with Socket 940, even after the new interface is introduced.
For the time being, ASUS’ SK8V fits the bill quite nicely. It centers on VIA’s K8T800 chipset and packs all of the integrated features a gamer could possible want. Four 184-pin DIMM slots accommodate up to 8GB of registered DDR memory, right up to DDR400. The addition of VIA’s VT8237 south bridge contributes Serial ATA RAID support and eight USB 2.0 ports. Also included are 3COM’s 3C940 Gigabit Ethernet controller, VIA’s VT6307 IEEE 1394 chip, and a Promise’s R20378 that adds two extra Serial ATA channels with RAID capability.
The SK8V is laid out well. Power connectors are situated to avoid blocking airflow, the processor socket is unobstructed, and the onboard connectors are color coded to aid installation. It has plenty of expandability too, sporting an AGP 8x slot, five PCI slots, and ASUS’ proprietary WiFi slot that works in conjunction with the ASUS WiFi-b add-on card.
Should you instead opt for the Athlon 4 3200+, check out the K8V Deluxe. It offers the same feature set, but substitutes a Socket 754 connector for the Socket 940 interface. And because it doesn’t require dual-channel memory configurations, the K8V only offers three DIMM slots.