Asus P5ND2-SLI Deluxe - nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition

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Over the past several years, NVIDIA has not only made a name for themselves in the Desktop Motherboard Chipset business but they have also cultivated a profitable and highly successful business unit in this area as well, commanding approximately 48% market share in the AMD Athlon 64 based market segment. With design wins at virtually all of the major Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers for their nForce 3 and nForce 4 product offering, it was no great surprise when NVIDIA and Intel announced a broad, multi-year patent cross license agreement and front-side bus license agreement that enables the company to deliver nForce platform technology on Intel-based systems.

Recently we gave you a look at an nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition reference design motherboard from NVIDIA that of course also had the capability to support Dual X16 PCI Express Graphics cards with NVIDIA's proprietary SLI Graphics technology.  In this product launch article we got a taste of what the NVIDIA Engineering labs had in store for us in terms of the base platform solution.  Today, only a few weeks later, we have our first retail ready nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition board in from none other than Asus.  In typical Asus fashion the company has the enthusiast squarely in their sights, with their new P5ND2-SLI Deluxe product offering.  In the pages ahead, we'll step you through the features and performance profile of this new high end desktop motherboard.

Specification of the Asus P5ND2-SLI Deluxe
Intel Edition nForce 4 SLI Asus Style
CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel Pentium 4/Celeron CPU
Compatible with Intel 6XX, 5XX and 3XX processors
Intel Hyper-Threading Technology ready
Supports Intel Enhanced Memory 64 Technology(EM64T)
Supports Enhanced Intel SteepStep Technology(EIST)
Intel new next generation CPUs enabling ( subject to Intel CPU availability and NVIDIA chipset supportability )

Chipset
nVIDIA nForce4 SLI - Intel Edition ( Crush 19 )
nVIDIA MCP-04

System Bus
1066 / 800MHz

Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
4 x 240-pin DIMM sockets support
8GB / 4GB DDR2 667/533/400 non-ECC memory

( 8GB DDR2 support for 64 bit OS platform only )
Native DDR2 720 support

Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express x16 slot
- SLI mode : x8 , x8
- Normal (Single VGA) mode : x16, x1
2 x PCI Express x1
3 x PCI

Storage
South Bridge nForce4 Storage:
- 4 x SATAII
- 2 x UltraDMA 133/100/66/33
- NVRAID : RAID0, RAID1, RAID 0+1, Software RAID 5 and JBOD span cross SATA and PATA
Silicon Image 3132R RAID controllers :
- 2 x SATAII
- RAID 0, 1 and external SATA connectability

Audio
Realtek ALC850, 8-channel CODEC
Audio Sensing and Enumeration Technology
Coaxial/Optical S/PDIF out ports on back I/O

LAN

nForce4 built-in Gbit MAC with external Marvell PHY :
- NV ActiveArmor
- NV Firewall
- AI NET2
Intel PCI Gbit LAN controller

IEEE 1394
TI 1394 controller supports 2 x 1394 ports

USB 2.0
Max. 10 USB2.0 ports

AI BIOS
CrashFree BIOS 2
Q-Fan 2
Post Reporter


AI Proactive Features
AI NOS (Non-delay Overclocking System)
Precision Tweaker
PEG (PCI Express Graphics) Link Mode
Fanless Design
AI NET2 network diagnosis before entering OS

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


Special Features
SLI
Under SLI mode : support two identical SLI-ready graphics cards
Under Default(Single VGA) mode: supports all PCI Express graphics cards
ASUS EZ Plug
ASUS SLI Status LED
ASUS EZ Selector
ASUS two-slot thermal design
ASUS PEG Link for dual PCIe graphic cards
Other
Fanless Design
CrashFree BIOS 2
Q-Fan2
1 x PS/2 Mouse
Multi-language BIOS
MyLogo2

Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x Parallel
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
2 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE1394
8-Channel Audio I/O

Internal I/O Connectors
1 x SLI selector card connector
3 x USB 2.0 connector supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x IEEE1394 connector
1 x COM connector
1 x GAME/MIDI connector
CPU Fan / 2x Chassis Fan/ Power Fan/ Chipset Fan connectors
Front panel audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio-in connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
4-pin EZ Plug power connector

Support CD
Drivers
InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
ASUS PC Probe - PC Health Monitoring Software
ASUS LiveUpdate Utility
ASUS AI Booster
NVIDIA nTune Utility
Anti-virus software (OEM version)


    

As we've seen with virtually all recent Asus "Deluxe" model motherboards that have come into our labs, the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe is nicely appointed with a slew of cabling and I/O port brackets, from Serial ATA power and data cables, to external, Firewire and USB ports.  In addition, the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe also has an external SATA port on the back panel I/O plate. Of course, Asus also provides a PCI Express board to board connector card, for accommodating a pair of NVIDIA PCI Express graphics cards, providing an inter-card signaling link between them.  On the software side, Asus decided to go a little lighter on the bundle than we've seen with previous models, but we certainly wouldn't call it skimpy, with InterVideo WinDVD adding a solid Digital Video compliment to go along with Asus proprietary utilities like PC Probe Health Monitoring software, AI Booster Overclocking tools, as well as NVIDIA's own nTune utility.  Before we move on, have a quick scan at the nForce 4 Intel Edition chipset block diagram above in this page for reference, and then we'll dig further into the hardware feature set of the motherboard next.

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