Asus A8N SLI Premium - NF4 SLI For AMD Refined

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We probably haven't stressed this often enough, whether to you our faithful readers or to our OEM contacts in the PR and Product teams at various companies we work with here at HotHardware.  But let it be known unequivocally now, we LOVE board revisions.  Don't get us wrong, we're not losing it on you.  We'd rather a manufacturer get their product right, out of the gate (and likely, so would they) but when a board revision means taking an already impressive product and making it better, it's sort of like a Tech Editor's nirvana; fewer headaches in testing, more performance, better features and usability.  Wait, that's what end users are interested in too, isn't it?  Great minds think alike we would say...

So, Asus did what we've been hoping many others in their competitive arena would do, take what is an already killer nForce 4 SLI for AMD based design and make it better.  Better you say?  How so?  Let's take a collective look at the new Asus A8N SLI Premium and help you decide if it's better than its predecessor the A8N SLI Deluxe.  "Deluxe", "Premium", it all sounds good but is the second gen product better?  Judge for yourselves in the pages ahead.

Specifications and Features - Asus A8N SLI Premium

Refinement in a top-notch NF4 SLI Board

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
_1GHz HyperTransport Link
_8GB/sec
_Integrated NV and NV Firewall

NVRAID and Silicon Image SATA Controller
_nForce4: 4 x SATA 3Gb/s
_NVRAID: RAID0, RAID1, RAID0+1 and JOBD
_Span cross SATA and PATA 2 x UltraDMA 133/100
_Silicon Image 3114R RAID controller
_4x SATA with RAID0, 1, 10, 5

NV and Marvell GbE LAN
_nForce4 built-in Gbit MAC with external Marvell PHY
_Marvell PCI Gbit LAN controller

NV Firewall
_Native NVIDIA Firewall via NF4 SLI

IEEE1394
_Support IEEE 1394 at 400/200/100 Mb/s transfer rate

Special Features
_ASUS AI Cool-Pipe
_ASUS AI Selector
_ASUS AI NOS
_ASUS AI NET 2
_ASUS SLI warning LED
_ASUS AI Overclocking
_ASUS PEG Link for single/dule graphics cards
_ASUS Precision Tweaker
_ASUS EZ Flash
_ASUS MyLogo2
_ASUS C.P.R.
_ASUS POST Reporter
_ASUS Q-Fan2
_ASUS Multi-language BIOS
_ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2
_ASUS Instant Music
_ASUS EZ Plug
Audio
_Realtek ALC850, 8-ch High-Definition Audio CODEC
_Jack Sensing and Enumeration
_S/PDIF out interface

Internal I/O Connectors
_3x USB connectors supports additional 6 USB ports
_SLI selector card connector
_CPU / Chassis FAN connectors
_24-pin ATX Power connector
_4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
_Chassis Intrusion connector
_3-pin PWR FAN connector
_1 x IEEE1394 ports
_4-pin EZ Plug power connector
_GAME/MIDI connector
_COM2 connector
_Front panel High Definition Audio connector

Expansion Slots
_2 x PCI-E x16
- SLI mode: x8, x8
- Default (single VGA): x16, x1
_1 * PCI-E x 1
_1*PCI-E x 4(x2 mode)
_3 x PCI

Back Panel I/O
_1 x Parallel
_1 x PS/2 Keyboard
_1 x PS/2 Mouse
_1 x Audio I/O
_2 x RJ45
_1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial)
_1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
_4 x USB
_1 x IEEE1394

Package
_User's manual
_UltraDMA cable
_IDE cable
_FDD cable
_2-port USB module
_COM Port module
_SLI connector
_SLI retention bracket
_2-port USB / Game module
_I/O shield
_SATA Power cables
_SATA Extension module
_SATA data cables
_1 port 1394 module

A quick take at the above specifications versus those of the Deluxe version of the A8N SLI, show a few major differences to an otherwise very similar configuration.  First, Asus' new "AI Cool Pipe" technology has been incorporated into the design, offering completely silent operation, at least at the motherboard level.  More details to follow on this.  Second Asus has refined their dual PCI Express SLI Graphics approach with a jumperless and software/BIOS configurable solution, that no longer requires you to pull out and flip around a PCI Express configuration PCB in between the slots.  Again we'll take a closer look at the technology behind this in the pages ahead.

      

One thing is for certain, Asus isn't cutting back on their hardware and software bundle for the A8N SLI Premium.  As is standard with most high end boards from Asus, the A8N SLI Premium comes packed with cables, additional USB, Firewire, SATA and other IO expansion brackets along with an Asus motherboard only keyed version of InterVideo WinDVD Suite. Within this multimedia pack comes DVD Copy 2.5, Disc Master 2.5, WinDVD Creator 2 and PhotoAlbum 1.0.  Finally, the Asus utilities and drivers disc, in addition to all the required motherboard chipset drivers and such, also includes Asus' proprietary utilities like "AI Booster" for overclocking, "AI Selector" for Windows-based SLI configuration and PC Probe, Asus' Health Monitoring software. 

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