Layout and Design - ASUS M2N32 WS Pro
Built around NVIDIA's 590 SLI chipset, the M2N32 WS Pro is a motherboard that is balanced in features while offering competitive performance. The board supports all flavors of Socket AM2 processors including Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 X2 as well as Athlon 64 and Sempron. The main board comes with 4 DIMM sockets that support up to 8GB of DDR2 memory at 533, 667 and 800MHz DDR speeds. The board comes with a wide range of PCI slots to cover the spectrum of expansion card options. There are two PCI Express x16 slots that support SLI with a full 16 lanes per each slot. Additionally, there are two PCI-E x1 slots, a legacy PCI 2.2 compliant slot and two PCI-X slots, the only one of the boards to include these.
The nForce 590 SLI MCP offers plenty of storage options including 6 SATA 3GB that can be configured in RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, and JBOD. The chipset also provides for one UDMA 133 IDE port. Adding to the M2N32 WS Pro's storage capabilities is a Marvel 88SE614x Marvel Serial ATA controller, adding an additional UDMA 100 IDE port, 3 more internal SATA 3GB ports and an external SATA 3GB port located beneath the LPT1 port. Lastly is a floppy drive port. Adding up all of the storage ports, the M2N32 WS Pro supports a total of 15 separate drives; 10 SATA 3GB, four IDE and one Floppy.
The M2N32 WS Pro delivers dual Gigabit Ethernet powered by two Marvell 88E1116 PHY chips and supports teaming for combined throughput. The board's high definition audio subsystem is managed by a Soundmax ADI AD1988B CODEC which supports a full 8 channels of audio. The requisite inputs and outputs are located in the rear port collection, including Optical and S/PDIF Out ports.
Looking at the layout of the board, there isn't much to balk about. About the only thing that was a minor annoyance was the locking mechanism on the second PCI Express x16 slot. The blue slot was configured ideally, with the release on the rear of the card, however, the second slot (black) has the clip reversed, which can be a nuisance when trying to remove a card with a two slot cooler. The most prominent feature of this particular board however, is the ASUS Heat-Pipe Thermal solution, that wicks heat from the chipset and power array and gets cooled by the CPU cooling fan.