OK, I built my machine on Thursday, did software setup on Friday and played games all day Saturday at a LAN so feel like I can say a thing or two about the Asus A8V and 3500 Winchester chip. I used 1GB of Corsair 3200 DDR and the Gainward Golden Sample GeForce 6800 GT (256MB), cooling provided by the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro and Arctic Silver 5. My case is the aluminium Antec P160 and I've fitted it with two 120mm fans- front and rear.
First of all, let me say that setup is indeed very, very easy. I also went down the EZ-Flash route and downloaded the 1007 BIOS from ASUS's site before renaming it to A8V.ROM and sticking it on a floppy. Build the machine, 1 stick of RAM in the 3rd slot from the CPU and switch on the machine with the floppy in the drive holding Alt and F2 (I think... it's in the manual!
The mobo does the rest and will flash in about 30s with on-screen progress.
After that, stick the other stick in the 1st slot (other blue one) from the CPU for dual channel DDR and continue to boot Windows.A word of warning though-
If you're intending to install on SATA HDDs, you will need to have made a driver floppy from the ASUS CD or you will NOT
be able to boot Windows. This floppy is not included, which caused me some frustration but is easily made with the instructions from the manual.
After that minor hiccup, everything was plain sailing in terms of software and driver installation. As for the games- all I can say is this thing flies! Doom III at 1280x1024 with everything on is smooth as silk (not benched it yet though) and even utilising 8x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering on Quake III with maximum settings wouldn't slow it down any! I was able to play all my games on full settings in a LAN setting with no hassle- Far Cry, Star Wars Battlefields, Freelancer etc.
The only two problems I had with the system were- hosting and playing a game of Doom III, no matter what the graphics settings was absolutely unplayable- I think this is a coding problem though because I've read many complaints about Doom III multiplayer. The other problem was a frozen system on hosting a game of Star Wars Battlefields with 32 per side at maximum settings. This only happened once and needed a restart but didn't reoccur at 16 per side.
The CPU runs very cool- maximum seen was 42C!!! Out of interest, the graphics card (guaranteed to OC to Ultra speeds) is a very hot beast and seems to sit around 68C when at Ultra speeds! I found that I could bring it down to about 63 by running at GT speeds and achieve similar performance in most games (except Doom III).
Other than the two minor issues, I've had nothing but stability and great performance from this system. I can only recommend it! :-)
Athlon 64 Winchester 3500 @ Stock
Asus A8V Rev 2- BIOS 1007
Gainward Golden Sample GeForce 6800 GT @ Ultra 400/1100
Creative Audigy 2 Platinum Pro
Corsair XL 1GB DDR 3200
Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro Cooler
Antec P160 Aluminium Case
2x120mm Akasa Ultra Quiet Case Fans
Antec Neopower 480W PSU
Hitachi Deskstar 160GB 7250RPM SATA HDD
Sony DWU-22D 16x DVD±RW
Sony DDU1612 DVD-ROM