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.