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Asus P5NSLI: NVIDIA nForce 570 Intel Edition
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Date: Sep 01, 2006
Section:Motherboards
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction, Specifications & Bundle

Last month, Intel officially launched their new Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors with much fanfare. Based on the heavily hyped "Conroe" core and utilizing the modern "Core" microarchitecture, as opposed to the NetBurst microarchitecture employed in the Pentium 4 and Pentium D, Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors proved to offer huge gains over Intel's previous architecture. And as an added bonus, the new Core 2 processors ran much cooler and consumed less power than their NetBurst-based brethren, thanks to power-saving enhancements incorporated in Conroe.

With the Core 2 Duo, Intel propelled themselves back into enthusiast space and knocked AMD down a rung on the overall desktop processor performance ladder. For all intents and purposes, the Core 2 Duo launch was a very successful one. But for the last month or so, there have only been about a dozen motherboards released with full support for Core 2 Duo, and the majority of them were either inexpensive, no-frills offerings, or ultra-high end boards that commanded an equally high-end investment. Until very recently, there have been slim pickings in the mainstream segment, especially if you wanted to run a multi-GPU setup.

We recently received one of Asus' new P5NSLI motherboards that's built around the NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI chipset. The Asus P5NSLI is a mid-range Core 2 Duo compatible and SLI capable motherboard targeted at mainstream users on a budget. While it may not have all off the bells and whistles of some higher-end products, the P5NSLI does have a relatively complete feature set that is likely to fit the needs of all but the most demanding power users.  Take a look...

Asus P5NSLI Specifications & Features
For Mainstream Core 2 Duo Gamers
CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel Core 2 / Pentium D / Pentium 4 / Celeron D Processors
Compatible with Intel 05B/05A/06 processors
Intel EM64T / EIST / Hyper-Threading Technology ready

Chipset
NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI Intel Edition
- NB: C19SLI
- SB: MCP51

Front Side Bus
1066 / 800 / 533MHz

Memory
4 x DIMM, max. 16GB, DDR2 667 / 533, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Dual channel memory architecture

BIOS
4 Mb Flash ROM, Award BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2

Expansion Slots
2 x PCI-E x16
- Single VGA mode: x16, x1 (Default)
- SLI mode: x8, x8

3 x PCI-E x1
2 x PCI 2.2

SLI
Under Single VGA mode (Default):
- 1 x PCI Express x16 graphics card on the first slot (blue)
- 1 x PCI Express x1 card on second slot (black)

Under SLI mode:
Support two identical SLI-ready graphics cards

ASUS EZ Selector
ASUS two-slot thermal design

Storage
2 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33
4 x Serial ATA 3 Gb/s
Support SATA RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD

LAN
Marvell 88E8001 PCI Gb LAN controller
ASUS AI NET 2 network diagnosis before entering OS

Audio
ADI AD1986A SoundMAX 6-channel CODEC
Jack Sensing and Enumeration
S/PDIF out interface

USB
8 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)

ASUS AI Lifestyle Features
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS O.C. Profile
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2
ASUS EZ Flash 2

 

Other ASUS Special Features
ASUS Music Alarm
ASUS Q-Fan
ASUS Fanless Design
ASUS MyLogo2

Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
Precision Tweaker
- vDIMM: 4-step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection):
- FSB tuning from 133MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1200MHz at 1MHz increment
- PCI-E frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)

Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x Parallel
1 x Serial
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial)
1 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
6-Channel Audio I/O

Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB connectors support additional 4 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1xCPU / 1xChassis / 1xPower Fan connectors
Azalia Analog front panel audio connector
System panel connector
1 x SLI selector card connector
S/PDIF out connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD / AUX audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector

Manageability
1 x SLI soft bridge
SATA signal and power cables for 2 devices
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x USB module
I/O Shield
2 in 1 Q-connector
User's manual

Accessories
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS Music Alarm
NVIDIA RIS (Remote Installation Service) application
Anti-virus software (OEM version)

Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9" (30.5cm x 22.9cm)


      
Asus P5NSLI Accessory Bundle

As we've mentioned, the Asus P5NSLI is a motherboard targeted at mainstream users on a budget.  As such, the P5NSLI doesn't ship with an elaborate assortment of accessories.  Included with the motherboard were three ribbon cables (floppy, 40-wire IDE, and 80-wire IDE), a single SATA data cable, and a single Molex-to-SATA power cable adapter.  Along with the various cables, Asus also threw in a case bracket with two USB 2.0 ports, a "soft" SLI bridge connector, and a package of Q-Connectors which makes connecting the P5NSLI to any ATX-style case a breeze.  Of course, a user's manual and driver / utility CD were included in the bundle as well, as were a custom I/O shield and an "Asus" case badge. The utilities on the CD included Asus' PC Probe II, Asus Update, Asus Music Alarm, and NVIDIA's RIS (Remote Installation Service) application and a basic OEM anti-virus application.

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The P5NSLI Motherboard

We're not going to delve too deeply into the specifications and features of the nForce 570 SLI, because we've covered everything incorporated into the chipset in previous articles.  If you'd like to get more familiar with NVIDIA's nForce 500 family of chipsets, however, please refer to pages five, six, and seven of this article. The nForce 570 SLI is similar to the nForce 590 SLI, but with fewer PCI Express lanes dedicated to graphics. There are a few other differences in regard to USB 2.0, LAN, and SATA connectivity as well, due to Asus' implementation of the C19SLI (Northbridge) in conjunction with the MCP51 (Southbridge).  We'll talk more about those differences as we explore the board.

      

In general, the P5NSLI has a good layout. Its 24-pin ATX power connector is situated along the front edge of the board, and its 12v ATX supplemental power connector is located between the I/O backplane and CPU socket. We would have preferred to see the 12v ATX connector moved closer to the top edge, but its position and the resulting power cable path didn't result in any clearance issues in our test system.

Also along the front edge or the board are its four, color-coded DIMM slots which thankfully are out of the way of the PEG slots, dual IDE ports, and four SATA ports. The IDE connectors are mounted perpendicular to the edge of the board and the four SATA ports are lined up between a pair of PCI slots, out of the way of long, double-wide graphics cards. Unlike nForce 590 SLI based motherboards which sport six SATA ports and a single IDE connector, the P5NSLI has only four SATA ports but with dual IDE channels.

      

The P5NSLI has a very good slot configuration in our opinion. Along with the dual PEG slots, the P5NSLI has three PCI Express x1 slots, and a pair of standard PCI slots.  This configuration gives users the ability to install a pair of double-wide graphics cards and still utilize two PCIe x1 slots and one of the PCI slots. The retention clips on the PEG slots are oriented in such a way that disengaging them can be difficult when a double-wide graphics cards are installed, but it was nothing we haven't seen dozens of times before.

Behind a couple of the PCIe x1 slots you'll find that the SLI switch card historically used on the early nForce 4 SLI chipset-based motherboards is back. This switch card is used to configure the PEG slots in either an x8 / x8 (SLI) or a x16 / x1 (Normal) PCI Express lane configuration.  This is another difference between the 570 SLI and 590 SLI chipsets. Whereas the nForce 590 SLI has 16 PCI Express lanes dedicated to each of its PEG slots, the 570 SLI has only 8 when in SLI mode.

The C19SLI SPP (Northbridge) used on the P5NSLI is passively cooled by a large aluminum heatsink, but the C51MCP (Southbridge) is left bare. During our testing, we found the C19SLI's heatsink to get quite hot to the touch. The C51MCP, however, hardly got very warm at all.  Even though the C19SLI's heatsink got quite hot though, we never experienced any heat related stability problems.

      

The P5NSLI's 3-phase power array is also passively cooled by a simple aluminum heatsink, visible beneath the CPU socket in the second picture. And speaking of the CPU socket, there is ample room around it for oversized coolers.

The I/O backplane is home to a pair of PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, an SPDIF digital audio output, four USB 2.0 ports, legacy serial and parallel ports, an RJ45 LAN jack and three various analog audio outputs. Most of the board's I/O connectivity comes by way of the nForce 570 SLI chipset, but Gigabit Ethernet duties are handled by a Marvell 88E8001 PCI LAN controller and audio duties are handled by an ADI AD1986A SoundMAX 6-channel CODEC.

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BIOS and Overclocking

The Asus P5NSLI is equipped with a Phoenix/Award BIOS that is is relatively complete and easy to navigate. From within the BIOS users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's integrated peripherals, and monitor voltages and clock speeds. The P5NSLI also has a complete set of memory timing options that offer good flexibility for fine tuning memory performance. Memory voltage options, however, leave a little to be desired.

Asus P5NSLI: Exploring the BIOS
Not Great, But Not Bad Either

      

    

The P5NSLI's standard BIOS menu screens don't reveal anything out of the ordinary, but they will give you a "feel" for the general layout and organization of the options. Each individual screen has a host of menus that tunnel deeper and deeper as the options get more complex. Overall, it is very similar to the BIOS derivatives used on most other motherboards, but navigating through Asus' BIOS menus does take some getting used to if you've never experienced them before.

Asus P5NSLI: Overclocking Tools
It Could Be Better

      

      

    

Because this board isn't targeted strictly at hardcore overclockers and enthusiasts, Asus didn't go over to top with the P5NSLI's overclocking options. That's not to say the P5NSLI can't be used for some mild overclocking, however -- it does have a fair amount tweaking tools and Asus also gives users the ability to save overclocked settings in the "O.C. Profile" menu. There just aren't any overly aggressive voltage options available on the P5NSLI, especially for memory tuning.

The Asus P5NSLI gives users the ability to raise the FSB speed from 100MHz to 400MHz in 1MHz increments (quad-pumped to 400MHz - 1600MHz) and the PCIe clock can be cranked up to 150MHz, also in 1MHz increments. And the memory clock can be dialed in manually as well.  The CPU multiplier can be manipulated when using an "Extreme" processor, but not when using standard Core 2 CPUs. The CPU voltage can be raised as high as 1.6v with fine granularity, and the chipset core and CPU termination voltages can be set as high as 1.5v or 1.35v, respectively. There are a good assortment of memory timing options available, but the memory voltage maxes out at a paltry 2.1v.  2.1v is a very low voltage considering many high-end memory kits actually require 2.2v to function reliably at their rated timings. This is a very important point to consider when shopping for memory to be used on this board.


To evaluate the Asus P5NSLI's overclocking ability, we first bumped up the CPU and memory voltages up to 1.4v and 2.1v respectively, and gave all of the other peripherals a .1v bump as well where applicable. Then we dropped our CPU's multiplier to 10x and raised the FSB frequency until the test system was no longer stable. In the end, we hit a maximum stable FSB of only 323MHz. The P5NSLI actually booted with higher FSB frequencies, but we couldn't stabilize Windows until we dropped things back down to 323MHz. Because we could not hit any excessively high FSB speeds, we were actually able to bump our CPU's multiplier back up to its default setting of 11, for a final clock speed of about 3.5GHz.  Perhaps with higher memory voltage options and some BIOS tuning, Asus can improve the overclockability of the P5NSLI, but considering this is a mainstream motherboard we aren't expecting any miracles.

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Our Test Systems and PCMark05

How we configured our test systems: When configuring our test systems for the following set of benchmarks, we first entered their respective system BIOSes and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults." We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set memory timings for DDR2-800 at 4,4,4,12 latency. The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional (SP2) was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we installed the drivers necessary for our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating and System Restore were then disabled, and we set up a 768MB permanent page file on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests.

HotHardware's Test Systems
AMD & Intel Inside!

System 1:
Core 2 Extreme X6800
(2.93GHz)
Core 2 Duo E6700
(2.66GHz)

Asus P5NSLI
(NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI)

Intel D975XBX
(975X Express)

Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP Edition
(P965 Chipset)

Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe SE
(NVIDIA nForce 4 SLIX16)

2x512MB Corsair PC-8500
CL 4-4-4-12-1T - DDR2-800

2xGeForce 7900 GTX
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD740 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
Intel INF 8.0.1.1002
nForce 4 Drivers v6.86
NVIDIA Forceware v91.27
DirectX 9.0c

System 2:
Athlon FX-62 (2.8GHz)
Athlon 62 X2 5000+ (2.6GHz)

Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe
(NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI)

2x512MB Corsair PC-8500

CL 4-4-4-12-1T - DDR2-800

2xGeForce 7900 GTX
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD740 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.86
NVIDIA Forceware v91.27
DirectX 9.0c
System 3:
Pentium XE 965 (3.73GHz)

Intel D975XBX Motherboard
(975x Chipset)

2x512MB Corsair PC-8500
CL 4-4-4-12-1T - DDR2-800

GeForce 7900 GTX (CPU Tests)
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD740 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
Intel INF 8.0.1.1002
NVIDIA Forceware v91.27
DirectX 9.0c
Futuremark PCMark05
Synthetic CPU and Memory Benchmarks

"The CPU test suite is a collection of tests that are run to isolate the performance of the CPU. The CPU Test Suite also includes multithreading: two of the test scenarios are run multithreaded; the other including two simultaneous tests and the other running four tests simultaneously. The remaining six tests are run single threaded. Operations include, File Compression/Decompression, Encryption/Decryption, Image Decompression, and Audio Compression" - Courtesy FutureMark Corp.

As you can see, the Asus P5NSLI performed on-par with all of the other Core 2 Extreme X6800 powered motherboards we tested, which is to say it finished at the head of the pack.  In a synthetic CPU benchmark such as this, scores should not fluctuate wildly when using the same processor for testing, as long as the core logic chipset is functioning properly.


"The Memory test suite is a collection of tests that isolate the performance of the memory subsystem. The memory subsystem consists of various devices on the PC. This includes the main memory, the CPU internal cache (known as the L1 cache) and the external cache (known as the L2 cache). As it is difficult to find applications that only stress the memory, we explicitly developed a set of tests geared for this purpose. The tests are written in C++ and assembly. They include: Reading data blocks from memory, Writing data blocks to memory performing copy operations on data blocks, random access to data items and latency testing."  - Courtesy FutureMark Corp.

The scores in PCMark05's memory benchmark were relatively similar as well, although there are a couple of different memory controllers at work here.  The nForce 4 SLIX16-based P5N32-SLI SE technically posted the best score, followed closely behind by the nForce 570 SLI powered P5NSLI.  All of the X6800 powered rigs finished within a few percentage points of one another though.

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WB 5.0: Office XP SP2 and Photoshop 7

PC World Magazine's WorldBench 5.0 is a new breed of Business and Professional application benchmark, that has replaced the aging and no-longer supported Content Creation and Business Winstone tests in our suite. WorldBench 5.0 consists of a number of performance modules that each utilize one, or a group of popular applications to gauge performance. 

WorldBench 5.0: Office XP SP2 & Photoshop 7 Modules
Real-World Application Performance

Below we have the results from WB 5's Office XP SP2 and Photoshop 7 modules, recorded in seconds.  Lower times indicate better performance here, so the shorter the bar the better.

 

WorldBench 5.0's Office XP SP2 and PhotoShop 7 performance modules didn't reveal any major performance differences between the various platforms we tested. The P5NSLI was the fastest, or nearly fastest motherboard in the group, but when only a second or two (or three) separates the "fastest" and "slowest" boards of the bunch, it would hardly be fair to declare any one product the overall performance leader here.

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WB5: 3ds MAX and Nero Burning ROM

We continued our testing of the Asus P5NSLI with a few more tests that are part of the WorldBench 5.0 suite. Up next we have some performance results from WB 5.0's 3Ds Max (Direct 3D) and Nero Burning ROM tests.

WorldBench 5.0: 3ds Max
More Real-World Application Performance

A number of different 3D objects are rendered and animated in this test, and the entire time needed to complete the tasks is recorded. As is the case with all of the individual WorldBench tests, a lower time here indicates better performance.

The P5N32-SLI SE posted the best score in WorldBench 5.0's 3D Studio Max benchmark, followed by the P5NSLI and then the two Intel-chipset based motherboards. The differences aren't dramatic here, but we speculate that using an NVIDIA chipset with an NVIDIA based graphics card, running a 3D application is what gives the nForces a slight edge in this test.

World Bench 5.0: Nero Burning ROM
CD-ROM Duplication And Creation Performance

The P965-based Asus P5B Deluxe put up the best score in WordBench 5.0's Nero benchmark, but the P5NSLI wasn't too far behind.  Interestingly enough, the P5N32-SLI trailed behind by a significant margin due to a driver issue we've talked about in the past, but the P5NSLI didn't seem to be affected.

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WB5: WME 9 and Mozilla Multitasking

For our next test, we moved on to a benchmark based Windows Media Encoder 9. PC WorldBench 5's Windows Media Encoder and Mozilla multi-tasking test reports encoding times in seconds, and like the tests on the previous page, lower times indicate better performance.

WorldBench 5.0: Windows Media Encoder 9 & Mozilla Multi-Tasking
Digital Video Encoding

In this test, a video is encoded using Windows Media Encoder 9, while an instance of the Mozilla browser is running and navigating through various cached pages in the background. Because the system is multi-tasking with two different applications, this test is more taxing than just running an instance of WME.

 

With the exception of the P965-based P5B Deluxe which trailed the other motherboards by a considerable margin, all of the other platforms performed similarly in this benchmark. About 5 seconds separated the first place P5N32-SLI SE from the P5NSLI, and the Intel D975XBX fell right in between the two.

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LAME MT: MP3 Encoding

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a very popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content. 

LAME MT MP3 Encoding Test
Converting a Large WAV to MP3

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a never-ending Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below. Once again, shorter times equate to better performance.

 

There were virtually no differences in performance between the various Core 2 Extreme X6800 powered motherboards be tested in our custom LAME MT encoding benchmark.  In the single-thread test, the D975XBX was only 1 second "slower" than the rest of the pack, but in the multi-threaded test all four of the X6800 powered motherboards took exactly the same amount of time to encode the file.

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Kribibench v1.1

For this next batch of tests, we ran Kribibench v1.1, a 3D rendering benchmark produced by the folks at Adept Development.  Kribibench is an SSE aware software renderer where a 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU, and the average frame rate is reported.

Kribibench v1.1

Details: www.adeptdevelopment.com

We used two of the included models with this benchmark: a "Sponge Explode" model consisting of over 19.2 million polygons and the test suite's "Ultra" model that is comprised of over 16 billion polys.

Once again, the performance deltas separating the "fastest" from the "slowest" motherboards in these tests were quite small, but technically speaking the nForce chipset based boards posted the highest scores. While rendering both models, the P5N32-SLI SE put up the highest framerate, followed closely behind by the P5NSLI. The 975X Express and P965 hung right alongside the nForce boards, but the P5N32-SLI and P5NSLI were slightly faster overall.

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Cinebench & 3DMark06: CPU

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test, based on the commercially available Cinema 4D application.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds).

Cinebench tells essentially the same story as our custom LAME MT benchmark, which is to say there is virtually no difference in performance between the various platform tested. 

Futuremark 3DMark06 - CPU Test
Simulated DirectX Gaming Performance

3DMark06's built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems.  This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer, which is dependent on the host CPU's performance.  This means that the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central processor.  The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.

The P965 powered P5B Deluxe and nForce 570 powered P5NSLI posted the two highest scores in the 3DMark06 CPU benchmark, but again, the deltas were quite small. So small in fact, that they fall well within the margin of error in this test.

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Low-Res Gaming: F.E.A.R. and Quake 4

To start our in-game testing, we did some low-resolution benchmarking with F.E.A.R. When testing motherboards and processors with F.E.A.R, we drop the resolution to 640x480, and lower all of the in-game graphical options to their minimum values to isolate CPU and memory performance as much as possible.

Benchmarks with F.E.A.R: Low Quality
DirectX 9 Gaming Performance

 

It was another tight grouping in our low-resolution F.E.A.R. benchmark.  The Asus P5NSLI ended up with the second highest score in this test, followed by the P5N32-SLI SE and then the P5B.  The 975X Express based D975XBX was the fastest overall, but only by a couple of frames per second.

Benchmarks with Quake 4 v1.2: Low Quality
OpenGL Gaming Performance

For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom single-player Quake 4 timedemo. Here, we installed the game's official v1.2 patch which is SMP capable, tuned the resolution down to 640x480, and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Quake 4 typically taxes today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at these minimal settings, it too is more CPU and memory-bound than anything else.

The Asus P5NSLI finished in second place once again in our custom Quake 4 benchmark. This time around though, the P965-based P5B Deluxe put up the best framerate of 212.6.  Next came the P5NSLI about 6.2 frames per second behind, followed by D975XBX.

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High-Res Gaming: F.E.A.R and Quake 4

To see how the Asus P5NSLI fared in a high-end gaming scenario, we also tested the motherbboard with some popular games at high-resolution settings that taxed the graphics sub-system of each of the platforms.

Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R
More Info: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/


F.E.A.R

One of the most highly anticipated titles of 2005 was Monolith's paranormal thriller F.E.A.R. Taking a look at the minimum system requirements, we see that you will need at least a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of system memory and a 64MB graphics card, that is a Radeon 9x00 or GeForce4 Ti-class or better, to adequately run the game. Using the full retail release of the game patched to v1.03, we put the graphics cards in this review through their paces to see how they fared with a popular title. Here, all graphics settings within the game were set to the maximum values, but with soft shadows disabled (Soft shadows and anti-aliasing do not work together currently). Benchmark runs were then completed at a resolution of 1600x1200 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled.

 

Please be aware that we're testing two things in the graphs on this page; how well the P5NSLI scales moving from one graphics card to two in an SLI configuration, and how the Core 2 Duo powered P5NSLI's performance compares to its AMD-based counterparts.

As you can see, the Asus P5NSLI's performance scaled appropriately moving from a single GeForce 7900 GTX to two, and the Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor propelled the P5NSLI based system well ahead of the Athlon 64 FX-62 and 5000+.

Performance Comparisons with Quake 4
Details: http://www.quake4game.com/

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such, performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at a resolution of 1600x1200 with 4X AA and 8X aniso enabled simultaneously.

The results from our custom Quake 4 benchmark mirror those of the F.E.A.R. benchmark above. The P5NSLI scaled well in SLI mode, and its performance was marginally better than its Athlon-powered counterparts. The delta's were somewhat smaller, however, due to the nature of this benchmark.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: For years we've seen motherboards for the AMD platform perform at near identical levels, because the Athlon 64 features an on-die memory controller.  And although each of the Intel Core 2 Duo compatible motherboards we tested here are equipped with different memory controllers that reside in their respective Northbridge chips, they too performed similarly. The nForce 570 SLI powered Asus P5NSLI's performance was just as good as much more expensive motherboards in every test we ran, regardless of which core logic chipset it was compared against.

We like the Asus P5NSLI on a couple of different levels. This motherboard has a relatively complete feature set that includes RAID, HD audio, Gigabit LAN, and of course SLI support, and its layout is generally good overall.  It doesn't sport an eye-catching color scheme, or any otherwise flashy features, but considering the fact that this motherboard is targeted at mainstream users, we weren't expecting it to.  The P5NSLI was also rock-solid stable throughout our tests and didn't exhibit any instability until overclocked well out of spec. Its BIOS and overclocking capabilities, however, left something to be desired.  The board's maximum memory voltage of 2.1v is too low and could pose a problem with some high-end memory kits that require more voltage, and hitting a peak FSB of just over 320MHz will surely limit the P5NSLI's appeal with overclockers. The P5NSLI's redeeming feature is its price though.  At approximately $120 the P5NSLI is currently the least expensive option for users looking to move to an affordable Core 2 Duo powered, SLI capable platform.  Based on its competitive performance, feature set, and affordable price, we're giving the Asus P5NSLI an 8 on the Heat Meter.

  • Affordable SLI
  • Good Layout
  • All Passive Cooling
  • Great Slot Configuration
  • 2.1v Peak Memory Voltage
  • Overclocking

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