Chipsets and Motherboard: NF4 SLIX16
The third motherboard we used to test Intel's new Core 2 processors was based on the NVIDIA nForce 4 SLIX16 Intel Edition chipset. The Asus P5N32-SLI SE is a revision to a motherboard we've already reviewed here at HotHarware, the P5N32-SLI Deluxe. However, the P5N32-SLI SE is essentially revision 2.0G of the P5N32-SLI Deluxe. The majority of the motherboard remained unchanged, but like Intel did with the D975XBX, the P5N32-SLI SE has an updated BIOS and a revamped VRM to fully support the Core 2 Duo and Extreme line of processors.
We detailed many of the features of the nForce 4 in our coverage of the first nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset last year. In addition to what's mentioned in that article, the nForce 4 SLIX16 sports a number of additional features including true dual-PCI Express x16 graphics slots allowing full bandwidth SLI and support for all Intel dual core processors.
The P5N32-SLI SE also sports Asus' "two-slot thermal design" which consists of a pair of heatsink / heatpipe assemblies that cool the VRM, SPP, and MCP. It's equipped with an 8-Phase power array, eSATA (aka SATA on the Go), and it supports some of the Asus' proprietary features we mention on the previous page, like AI NOS and AI Quiet. Speaking of quiet, the P5N32-SLI will not contribute to the noise level of a system because it boasts a completely fanless design. Of course, in typical Asus fashion the P5N32-SLI SE's BIOS is loaded with overclocking and tweaking options too.
We ran our entire suite of benchmarks on this motherboard using a couple of Corsair DDR2 memory kits, and can wholeheartedly recommend this motherboard to anyone who wants to build a Core 2 based system with SLI support. This motherboard, in conjunction with Corsair's TWIN2X2048-6400C3 memory kit, a pair of GeForce 7900 GTX cards, and a Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor posted some of the highest benchmark scores we have ever seen.