ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe Setup & Showcase
If you asked us what motherboards typically get our Editor's Choice award most often, we would have to say ASUS and ABIT typically make the grade over others out there. While this article is more of an SLI technology showcase rather than a motherboard piece, we felt compelled to give you a full showcase of ASUS' great new nForce4 board for the Athlon 64 platform. It's Editor's Choice material in the making if ever we've seen one, with one small caveat that we'll explain later.
Eight-channel audio, quad USB 2.0, and Dual Gig-E on its backplate I/O panel alone, if you want it; this board's got it all. With an actively cooled northbridge/southbridge nForce4 chip and a passively cooled MOSFET power array, the A8N-SLI also aims for stability under pressure. The real thing of beauty, however, is the nForce4 chipset itself, or should we say "chip," because it actually combines the functionality of both north and southbridge requirements in a single die. To us, this is the real engineering feat of the entire architecture and a true testament to NVIDIA's growing expertise in motherboard chipset technology, with its extremely high level of integration.
Marvell provides the physical interfaces for the Dual Gig-E MACs in the nForce 4. Silicon Image and ITE, along with the nForce4, provide eight channels of SATA RAID controller capability and a couple of standard EIDE ports for your optical drives. There's also an auxiliary power connector, which is fashioned in the form of a 4-pin molex power connector that provides an additional power source to the motherboard. On the subject of power, here's what ASUS recommends to support various build-out options of this motherboard.
Power Supply Requirements
Most users will fall into the "normal load" category, with some room to spare, if our projections are correct. Two DDR 512MB DIMMs and a pair of 6800GT is the sweet spot, as you'll see in the pages ahead. A 400W or greater power supply is a reasonable expectation in this day and age, as well. For a new high-end system such as this, we would recommend nothing less, regardless of the platform you're considering.