Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe A64-939 Motherboard

CPUs|Motherboards
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February 9, 2006 by Devon Cooke and Mike Chin

Product
ASUS A8N32-SLI DELUXE
Fully Loaded Socket 939 Motherboard
Manufacturer
ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Street Price
US$200~220

As a general rule, silencers don't expect that much from their motherboards. There are really only two essential items:

  1. It needs to be stable, even when the temperature rises
  2. It needs to be silent — tiny 40mm banshee fans on the north and/or southbridges are a no-no.

Stability is a bit of a shot in the dark. It's almost impossible to judge the stability of a motherboard until it's been on the market for a few months, and even then it's best to stay with established technology and popular models.

Noise, on the other hand, is very easy to judge: Motherboards without fans are good, motherboards with fans are bad.


The retail box goes in for the understated, classy look.

Enter the ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe. Although not targeted specifically at silencers, it does address these two requirements.

  1. Stability: It's based on a modification of the established nForce4 chipset, and ASUS is about as well-known as they come.
  2. Quiet: It is one of the few passively cooled nForce4 boards on the market, thanks to an exotic system of heatpipes.

On closer examination, the board has a couple of quirks that makes it interesting to silencers:

  1. It is one of the first to feature an eSATA (external SATA) connector, which makes it possible to use an external drive without a drop in performance.
  2. It is reputed to be highly efficient thanks to the fancy eight-phase VRMs for the CPU. This means it should run cooler and require less airflow (and noise) to cool properly.

It also doesn't hurt that the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is about as fully-featured as they come... and for >US$200, it had better be!

Its major selling point (as per ASUS' marketing department) seems to be dual 16x PCIe slots that can both run at 16x. Translation: More bandwidth available for dual GPU setups, and, theoretically, higher frame rates. In reality, this advantage seems to be mainly theoretical, as reported by several other web sites that examine performance, not noise. To be fair, the additional bandwidth my come in handy later on when quad-core GPU setups hit the market, although few silencers will want to deal with the excessive amount of heat that such setups are likely to produce.

The additional 16 PCIe lanes required to implement this design are actually too much for the original nForce4 chipset to handle. For this reason, the A8N32-SLI uses a revised version of nForce4, called nForce4 SLI x16. Aside from requiring a slightly different set of drivers, the main change seems to be the addition of a second chip of silicon to manage the extra bandwidth. Needless to say, this takes up space on the motherboard, and requires a more complex cooling system.


Shining copper heatsinks add a lot of mass — it weighs about twice as much as usual.
Click image for a higher resolution view.

The rest of the features, while extensive, are comparable to other high-end boards. There are too many to cover in detail without getting very boring, so we will list the specs and touch only on the highlights.

ASUSTeK A8N32-SLI Deluxe Specifications

CPU

- Socket 939 for AMD Athlon™ 64 FX/64 X2/64 and Sempron™ processor
- Supports AMD 64 architecture that enables simultaneous 32-bit and 64-bit computing
- Supports AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet! Technology
Chipset
- NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI x16
- Northbridge: NVIDIA® nForce™ SPP 100
- Southbridge: NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI
Front Side Bus
1600/2000 MT per second
Memory
- Dual-channel memory architecture
- 4 x 184-pin DIMM sockets support unbufferred ECC/non-ECC DDR400/333/266 memory modules
- Supports up to 4 GB system memory
Expansion Slots
- 2 x PCI Express™ x16 slots with Scalable Link Interface (SLI™) support at full x16, x16 mode
- 1 x PCI Express x4 slot (supports x4/x1 card)
- 3 x PCI slots (PCI 2.2)
SLI
SLI™ mode supports:
- 2 x identical SLI™-ready PCI Express™ x16 graphics
cards (Note: In SLI mode, the PCI Express x16 slots work
at the full bandwidth of x16 each, for a combined
bandwidth of x32.)
- ASUS Soft SLI Bridge
- ASUS EZ Plug™
- ASUS PEG Link for dual PCI Express graphics cards
- ASUS Two-slot thermal design
Storage

NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI supports:
- 2 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33 connectors
for up to four IDE devices
- 4 x Serial ATA devices (3 Gb/s)
- NVRAID for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5, and JBOD configuration that spans across Serial ATA drives
Silicon Image® 3132 SATA controller supports:
- 1 x Internal Serial ATA device (3 GB/s)
- 1 x External Serial ATA device (3 GB/s)
(for SATA On-The-Go)
- RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations

USB
Supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports
AI Audio
Realtek® ALC850 8-channel CODEC
- 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF out port
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF out port
- Supports Universal Audio Jack (UAJ®) Technology
- Supports Audio Sensing and Enumeration Technology
IEEE 1394
TI® 1394a controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a connectors at midboard
Network
- Marvell® PCI Express Gigabit LAN controller
- Marvell® Gigabit LAN PHY
- NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI built-in Gigabit MAC with external
Marvell Gigabit LAN PHY supports:
- NV ActiveArmor
- NV Firewall
- NV RIS (Remote Installation Service)
- AI NET
Overclocking
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS PEG Link (automatic performance tuning for single/dual graphics cards)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker supports:
- DIMM voltage: 13-step DRAM voltage control
- Core voltage: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125 V increment
Stepless Frequency Selection(SFS) allows:
- FSB tuning from 200 MHz to 400 MHz at 1 MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 400 MHz to 800 MHz
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100 MHz to 200 MHz at 1 MHz increment
Overclocking protection:
- ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)
Other Features

- Stack Cool 2
- ASUS SATA On-The-Go (External Serial ATA port on the rear panel
- ASUS 8-Phase Power Design
- ASUS Fanless Design
- ASUS AI Overclocking (Intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- AI NET network diagnosis
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2
- ASUS Q-Fan2
- ASUS MyLogo2
- ASUS EZ Flash
- ASUS Multi-language BIOS
- ASUS CPR (CPU Parameter Recall)

Manageability
WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOL by PME, PXE, RPL
BIOS Features
8 Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, WfM2.0
Power Requirements
- ATX power supply (with 24-pin and 4-pin 12 V plugs)
- ATX 12 V 2.0 compliant
- ASUS EZ Plug (When using two graphics cards and a 20-pin ATX PSU or, if the two graphics cards do not have auxiliary power.)
Rear Panel
- 1 x Parallel port
- 2 x LAN (RJ-45) ports
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x External Serial ATA port
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out port
- 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Out port
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard port (purple)
- 1 x PS/2 mouse port (green)
- 8-channel audio ports
Internal Connectors
- 1 x Floppy disk drive connector
- 2 x IDE connectors
- 4 x NVIDIA nForce4 Serial ATA connectors
- 1 x Silicon Image Serial ATA connector
- 1 x Serial port connector
- 1 x 24-pin ATX power connector
- 1 x 4-pin ATX 12 V power connector
- 1 x 4-pin ASUS EZ Plug™ connector
- 3 x USB connectors for additional six USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x CD IN/AUX connector
- 2 x IEEE 1394a connectors
- 1 x GAME/MIDI connector
- 1 x Chassis intrusion connector
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- CPU, Chassis (x2), Chipset (x2), Power fan connectors
- System panel connector
Support CD Contents
- Device drivers
- ASUS PC Probe II
- ASUS Update
- ASUS AI Booster
- NV RIS
- NV Firewall
- NV RAID
- Anti-Virus Utility (OEM version)
Form Factor
ATX form factor: 12 in x 9.6 in (30.5 cm x 24.5 cm)


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