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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  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Both the Asus and DFI were definitely running 1 x16 in single video card mode. The single video card results - using the same 81.85/6.82 drivers, video cards, CPU, and memory - were the most surprising results. I really don't have an explanation for the performance differences here, since there is very little performance difference in older titles but a large difference in the just released games. We are hoping nVidia can shed some light on these benchmark results. Reply
  • n7 - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    This actually looks like a very good mobo.

    However, knowing Asus, i'm sure we will we won't find it reasonably priced anywhere.

    If it came down in price, & they offered a non-SLI version for those of us who don't want SLI, i'd get interested :)
    Reply
  • aLeoN - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    What kind of rich enthusiast wouldn't want to spend top dollar for the top of the line equipment? Don't get me wrong, I'd like exactly what you do but they've only changed to 8 phase cooling and x16 sli over the current nf4 boards right? Imo it doesn't sound like a very profitable idea if you threw phase change cooling onto an A8N-E but I'll keep my fingers crossed for the both of us. Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    hehe - the real trick is turning pyrite into gold..Tortise into hare... Anyone can empty thier wallet out or max thier credit card out, as the case may be, on top of the line eqiupment. Takes real skill to turn budget parts into them. IMO. Reply
  • aLeoN - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Right on man! I have a friend who demands near top of the line and doesn't hesitate to have something better than our circle of friends. I'm planning a OC rig for just about a grand that would topple his $3000+ (invested in over a couple years) rig, forcing him to upgrade it with his $1500 now (he was saving it till something good came out or me and a couple other friends get something better). It's people like these that drive our economy! =D Reply
  • gnumantsc - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Wes the chart for Far Cry on Single Video shows a percent increase of 0.4% with the numbers showing 74.3 vs. 47.5. Shouldn't it be 74.5? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    The chart is correct, and I did a dyslexic in the table. The correct numbers are 47.3 nad 47.5. The table has been corrected. Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Yes sir just gunna have to wait for another C51 review to see if it's nV's chipset or something ASUS is doing. Definity shocking to see large performance gaps like that so I'm sure you tested and retested and retested after that too. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Sorry, I will fix the Typo. I made sure all jumpers were reset to single video mode on the DFI and double checked the readout in BIOS before runnign single video tests. Reply
  • Phantronius - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Damnit, I spent alot of money on my Asus A8N Premium board. Grrrrrrr...!! I want a 17% boost in single card performance!!! Reply

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