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POWER EFFICIENCY (continued)
When the specifications were re-examined, what we found is that the LanParty NF4 Ultra D runs the nForce4 Ultra chipset, and the A8N-SLI Premium runs the nForce4 SLI chipset. In contrast, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is equipped with three chips:
- NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI
- Northbridge: NVIDIA® nForce SPP 100
- Southbridge: NVIDIA® nForce4 SLI
We could not find any reference to nForce SPP 100 on nVidia's web site. It is possible that this is integrated in the SLI x16 chip. On the nF4 family page, nF4 SLI x16 is described as a chipset that provides up to 38 lanes for PCI Express and suppports SLI x16. This is double the bandwidth of nF4 SLI or nF4 Ultra, both of which provide 20 lanes for PCI Express and 8X SLI. The SLI x16 chip seems bound to be more power hungry than either of the narrower bandwidth SLI or Ultra chips.
The A8N32-SLI Deluxe clearly runs two chipsets, not just one. A close visual comparison of this board against the LanParty NF4 Ultra D and the A8N-SLI Premium confirms this. And now the power numbers make sense.
One hot chip.
Still one hot chip.
Two hot chips!
Despite the fanfare surrounding the efficiency of the eight-phase power circuitry, the A8N32-SLI
Deluxe is a power hungry motherboard. The extra bandwidth in the PCIe lanes in SLI mode may well help gaming performance, but the gain comes at a price that's paid even when only one video card is used. A near-20W increase in power consumption even in idle seems a high price to pay.
All in all, the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe is a bit of a mixed basket.
It's passively cooled and runs both SLI and SLI x16 chips, which makes it quite a rarity. We have no doubt that, at least in theory, the additional bandwith
for PCIe-16X in SLI mode has a performance benefit with the fastest video cards. The price for this potential added performance at the stratified extreme of PC gaming comes
at the price of high power consumption (read: Heat!), even if you're only using one video card.
It's true that at least the board is silently cooled with the very nicely implemented heatpipes, but the heatpipes may not work well in all configurations.
The A8N32-SLI Deluxe is very full-featured, and the BIOS allows almost any
value to be tweaked and tinkered with. Probably as a direct result of the great number of options, navigating the BIOS
is rather tedious, and it is not always clear how setting one option can affect
what other options are available. In this performance-oriented board, it is not unusual that the FSB cannot
be dropped below 200 MHz, but we're glad to see that underclocking is
possible by changing the CPU multiplier.
The inclusion of external SATA unusual and welcome, but the reality is that
there are not enough eSATA products on the market today to truly take advantage
of it yet. By the time these devices become widespread, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe probably will
be old news, and other models will have taken its place.
As the top ASUS enthusiast board, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is guaranteed to have
its followers. If you're looking for
a SLI 939 board that does everything, and passive cooling is a necessity, this board
can certainly deliver. But, if you don't need the all the features and just want a
board that is quiet and cool, you'll probably want to keep looking. We think the less costly but still feature-packed fanless Asus A8N-SLI Premium is a better bet for silencers.
* Does everything
* Latest and greatest nVidia chipsets
* Passively cooled, thus virtually silent
* eSATA port on rear panel
* Special power circuitry good for stability
* Power hungry
* May not cool well in all orientations
Much thanks to ASUSTeK
for the opportunity
to review this motherboard.
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums.
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