Quality and Setup of the ASUS K8N-E Deluxe
From a physical standpoint, the K8N-E Deluxe is fairly impressive. The board comes with a solid collection of features that left us wanting very little. Sporting 5 PCI slots and 1 AGP slot, the K8N-E is built with expansion in mind. Some may argue a 6th PCI is always a plus, but in this case we think it won't be missed. With the NFORCE 3 supporting SATA natively, this board comes with a total of 6 SATA RAID connections. The chipset drives the two mounted near the AGP slot and a Silicon Image SATALink chip drives the other 4 near the case connections. Additionally, the 2 native SATA ports support RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and JBOD, while the SIL3114 controllers offers the same plus RAID 5. The board also comes with 2 common IDE ports and a floppy connection for legacy support.
The K8N-E comes with a total of 3 DIMM slots capable of 3GB at speeds up to PC3200 (400MHz). The board also comes with a total of 2 USB headers, expanding the board's USB 2.0 support by an additional 4 ports. These complement the 4 ports provided off the back of the mainboard, leaving no shortage of USB ports on this board. The rear of the board also provides standard PS/2 connections for Keyboard and Mouse, a FireWire port, SPIDF Optical and Coaxial outputs as well as Serial and LPT1 connections. There is one Ethernet port, providing Gigabit capabilities. For those interested in traditional 15-Pin game/joystick port, ASUS includes a header that marries up with the case bracket included in the bundle, which includes the game port as well as 2 USB ports.
When it comes to connecting the board to a computer case, ASUS made it as simple as possible. With individual color codes and clear labelling, connecting the case's LEDs and Power/Reset Switches is a no brainer. The only real shortcoming of this board was the limited amount of fan headers. With a total of three, one is used by the CPU and one connects to the PSU to provide fan speed readings in the Hardware Monitor, leaving one remaining for a chassis fan. Ideally, we would like to see at least one more header on the board, if not two. And let us not forget to mention the on-board audio powered by a RealTek ALC850 chip, providing 8.1 Surround Sound. The rear audio header provides a total of 6 connections coupled with the aforementioned SPIDF connections totalling 8 ports.
The K8N-E Deluxe comes equipped with a potent BIOS that has an excellent selection of options. The main focus is on ASUS' AI Overclocking utility, which offers overclocking profiles of 1, 3, 5 and 10% as well as manual adjustments. When set manually, The Processor Frequency setting becomes available and allows the multiplier to be reduced in .5X increments down to 4X on Cool'n'Quiet enabled CPUs.
There are also several voltage options which are useful for reaching a stable overclock. The CPU voltage options were broad, ranging from 1.375v through 1.75V in .025v increments. This gives the user a very fine adjustment range when tweaking processor performance. The DDR and AGP Voltages were standard fare, ranging from 2.5, 2.6, 2.7v DDR and 1.5, 1.6, 1.7v AGP.
The DDR memory can also be locked to run at 400, 333, 266 and 200MHz DDR, most handy when running slower memory or attempting overlocked bus speeds that far exceed your memory's capabilities. A decent range of latency settings are also available, such as CAS settings of 2, 2.5 and 3 as well as RAS Precharge from 2-6 in increments of 1. Lastly, we have the Hardware Monitor which reports system status pertaining to temperature, voltages and fan speeds.