ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe - nForce 4 SLI X16 Unleashed

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We certainly do evaluate and showcase our fair share of ASUS products here at HotHardware, and it's no great mystery because Asus is also typically one of the first out of the block with a new chipset technology.  The company's new A8N32 SLI Deluxe motherboard is no exception.  NVIDIA's new nForce 4 SLI X16 chipset has been out the door at NVIDIA for months now, but retail boards have yet to appear on the scene.  We've heard ABIT and others may have boards on the horizon, based on this new high-end NVIDIA chipset, but the A8N32 SLI Deluxe was the first to hit our test bench, and it looks like it will be the first to hit retail sometime this week.  NVIDIA has also launched the Intel version of the nForce 4 SLI X16, and we're also working with that board, dubbed the P5N32-SLI Deluxe, right now.

The new NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI X16 chipset takes the same basic feature set of the hugely successful nForce 4 SLI and expands upon its PCI Express lane configuration, offering two full X16 graphics slots for dual graphics SLI configurations.  This adds another 16 lanes to the chipset, as well as 16 additional 2.5G PCI Express SerDes (serializer/de-serializer) interfaces, which in turn adds to chip real-estate and pin count.  As a result, in this incarnation, the nForce 4 SLI X16 has become a discrete two-chip solution for north and southbridge functionality.  We'll give you more on the chipset later; for now let's run down what the ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe has to offer.

Specifications & Features - ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe

NVIDIA's Latest NF4 - More Bandwidth

Processor
_Socket 939 for AMD Athlon 64FX / Athlon 64 /Sempron/Athlon 64 X2
_AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Technology

Memory
_Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
_Support 4 DIMM Dual DDR 400/333/266 non-ECC memory
_Support 4 DIMM up to 4GB Max.

Chipset
_NVIDIA NF4 SLI X16
_1GHz HyperTransport Link
_8GB/sec
_Integrated NV and NV Firewall

NVRAID and Silicon Image SATA Controller
NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 southbridge supports
_2 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 33
_4 x Serial ATA 3 Gb/s
_NV RAID: RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD on Serial ATA drives
Silicon Image 3132 SATA controller supports
_1 x Internal Serial ATA 3 Gb/s hard disk
_1 x External Serial ATA hard disk (SATA On-the-Go)
_Supports RAID 0, 1

NV and Marvell GbE LAN
_Dual Gigabit LAN
_Marvell(R) 88E8053 PCI-E Gigabit LAN controller
NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 Southbridge built-in Gigabit MAC with external Marvell 88E1111 PHY supports:
_NV Firewall
_NV RIS (Remote Installation Service)
_NV ActiveArmor
_AI NET

AI Life Features
_Stack Cool 2
_SATA on the Go (External SATA on back I/O port)

Special Features
_ASUS AI Cool-Pipe
_ASUS 8-Phase Power Design
_ASUS Fanless Design
_ASUS AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
_ASUS AI NET2
_ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)
_ASUS MyLogo2
_ASUS Q-Fan2
_Support two identical SLI-ready graphics cards (both x16 mode)
_ASUS EZ Plug
_ASUS two-slot thermal design
_ASUS Soft SLI Bridge
_ASUS PEG Link for dual PCI Express graphics cards

Overclocking
Intelligent overclocking tools:
_AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
_AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
_ASUS PEG Link - Automatically performance tuning for single/dual graphics cards
Precision Tweaker:
_vDIMM: 8-step DRAM voltage control
_vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
_FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
_Memory tuning from 400MHz up to 800MHz
_PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz in 1MHz increments
_Overclocking Protection:
_ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Audio
_Realtek ALC850, AC97 CODEC
_Jack Sensing and Enumeration
_Coaxial/Optical S/PDIF out interface

Internal I/O Connectors
_6 x USB 2.0/1.1
_1 x Floppy disk drive connector
_2 x IDE connector
_5 x SATA connectors
_1 x CPU / 2 x Chassis / 2 x Chipset / 1 x Power Fan connectors
_1 x GAME / MIDI connector
_2 x IEEE1394a connector
_1 x COM connector
_Front panel audio connector
_Chassis Intrusion connector
_CD / AUX audio in
_24-pin ATX Power connector
_4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
_4-pin EZ Plug power connector

Expansion Slots
_2 x PCI-E x16 with SLI™ support at full x16, x16 mode
_1 x PCI-E x4 (Support PCI-E x4 or PCI-E x1 card)
_3 x PCI 2.2

Back Panel I/O
_1 x PS/2 Keyboard
_1 x PS/2 Mouse
_1 x Parallel
_1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
_1 x External SATA
_2 x RJ45
_4 x USB 2.0/1.1
_1 x Wireless LAN antenna jack
_1 x Wireless LAN activity LED
_8-Channel Audio I/O

Package
_SLI bridge connector
_UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
_IDE cable
_FDD cable
_SATA cables
_SATA power cables
_USB2.0 / Game port module
_COM port module
_IEEE1394 port module
_I/O Shield
_InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
_User's manual
_Optional Fan (for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only)
Drivers
_ASUS PC Probe II
_ASUS Update
_ASUS AI Booster
_NV RIS (Remote Installation Service) application
_NV Firewall
_NV RAID
_Anti-virus software (OEM version)

ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)


We've also grown accustomed to ASUS delivering nicely appointed bundles with its "Deluxe" and "AI Life" branded boards, and the A8N32 SLI Deluxe's set up is pretty much cut from the same cloth.  There are an abundance of SATA data and power cables to enable various configurations, as well as various USB, Game Port, Firewire, and serial IO back-plate modules.  ASUS bundles WinDVD suite with the board along with the drivers and utilities disk.  In addition, you get an SLI bridge connector, but it looks like ASUS has had to go back to the flexible ribbon cable version with the A8N32 SLI Deluxe. This isn't quite as robust, in terms of staying fastened to the cards, as the rigid PCB version.  Unfortunately there wasn't much of an option here if you wanted to populate either of the two PCI slots in between the board's two PCI Express graphics slots.  Which brings us to another small shortcoming of the A8N32 SLI Deluxe, which we'll discuss shortly.

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