Last week, we took a close look at the Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe, a new Intel motherboard based on NVIDIA's vision of the enthusiast chipset - the dual x16 SLI. With 8-phase power, passive heat-pipe cooling and two full x16 PCIe video slots, the Intel version had the goods to grab our attention. Perhaps even more important, we also found the performance among the best ever tested on the Intel Socket 775. Following that announcement, Asus has introduced an AMD version that should have even broader enthusiast interest - the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe.

With essentially the same features on an AMD Socket 939 platform, Asus is targeting the majority of gamers with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe. With AMD in the clear lead in gaming performance, most gamers these days are running Athlon 64 processors. The question in many minds is whether this all-decked out A8N32-SLI Deluxe has what it takes to attract that market. Can this Asus effectively compete with the DFI LANParty nForce4 boards that seem to have a firm grip on the enthusiast-buying dollars? These are not trivial questions given the less-than stellar performance that we have recently seen in Athlon 64 motherboards from Asus.

We all know that Asus has historically done a wonderful job in bringing to market some of the most innovative and highest-performing Intel motherboards that the market has ever seen. However, the AMD side, and in particular the nForce 4 market, has been more a challenge to Asus. We found their original A8N-SLI Deluxe to be a very average performer in our nForce4 SLI roundup, a very atypical position for Asus. The good news recently is that the newest A8N-SLI Premium performed very well in our initial enthusiast testing, even with the potentially performance-robbing auto-switching SLI. This A8N32-SLI Premium uses many of the same features as the Premium, so we have reason to expect that this might be just the board to compete with the DFI LANParty nForce4 SLI.

We cannot go forward in reviewing the A8N32-SLI Deluxe without first addressing some of the completely incorrect hype that has developed about this board from early reviews by some review sites. We have seen a review that claimed the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe to be 40% to 50% faster in some games than the current dual x8 SLI boards. Frankly, that information is based on an incorrect interpretation of performance data. Asus and NVIDIA strongly recommend that this board be tested with the latest released 81.85 video drivers and the 6.82 platform drivers. Using these recommended drivers, we also found dramatic increases in performance of the A8N32-SLI compared to past benchmarks on nForce4 SLI boards. However, we delayed the review to go back and retest the well-regarded DFI LANParty nF4 SLI-DR motherboard with the new video drivers. We found that the biggest part of the performance boost is not the dual x16 architecture, but the new video drivers.

So, is dual x16 SLI really better with current hardware and the latest games? Or is it all just smoke and mirrors? Join us as we take a closer look at the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe in our standard motherboard tests, and new game tests with F.E.A.R., Splinter Cell-Chaos Theory, and Quake 4.

8-Phase Power and Dual x16 PCIe
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  • Zebo - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    LOL Reply
  • Live - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    The Techreport writes about overclocking with AMD Cool'n'Quiet here:

    They highlight two important bios options:

    quote:

    You can specify the amount that you want to overvolt the processor as a percentage, and the motherboard will supply that much extra voltage consistently as Cool'n'Quiet slides the CPU voltage up and down through its range of possible values.


    and with regards to memory overclocking:

    quote:

    …because C'n'Q will ramp the processor up to its highest possible multiplier as soon as the system's under load. On my X2 3800+, that would result in a 2.8GHz clock speed and a very nasty crash. The DFI BIOS, however, allows the user to specify a maximum CPU multiplier value for Cool'n'Quiet, neatly solving that problem.


    Does this board have these options in bios?

    As Techreport writes:
    quote:

    I think they should become a practical requirement for an enthusiast motherboard's BIOS.


    I must say I agree.

    Link: http://techreport.com/etc/2005q4/damagebox/index.x...">http://techreport.com/etc/2005q4/damagebox/index.x...
    Reply
  • DieLate - Saturday, November 05, 2005 - link

    Can we get some official info on these questions?
    They're high on my list of features. I was all set to go with the DFI until I saw this review. These features may win me over if the ASUS has them too.
    Reply
  • Live - Monday, November 07, 2005 - link

    It looks like official reply is not going to happen. does anyone know if the Asus A8N SLI;Delux;Premium has this in later bios? If so I would bet this one has it aswell. Reply
  • Capt Caveman - Monday, November 07, 2005 - link

    The latest bios for the Asus A8N-Sli Premium came out yesterday and no, it does not have this feature so I doubt the A8N32-Sli Deluxe will have this feature. Not very many overclocker's use CNQ, so I don't think there's a huge demand for this feature unfortunately. Reply
  • WobbleWobble - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    I wonder if it's better than the DFI because of the PEG mode Asus implements on its motherboards, which overclocks the videocard. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    And I disabled "PEG link" mode for our review. Asus has settings in PEG for Auto, Normal, Fast, Faster, and Disabled. We set "Disabled" because we know this trick. Asus suggests using "Faster" for review tests. On the positive side you have that additional performance waiting to be tapped.

    We also turn off the overclocks that are enabled when many boards arrive for review. That's the first thing we check.
    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Really nice to see such diligence! Reply
  • Capt Caveman - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Not by 17% Reply
  • lopri - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Also, if you're running SLI with 2 dual-slot video cards, where are you supposed to put a sound card, or any PCI card? It seems like the only slot available will be, if it's possible at all, the one above the 2nd video card. Not sure how anyone's gonna be able to use any PCI card with SLI.

    Reply

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