"Engineering is the art or science of making practical."

This quote by noted writer and practicing engineer Samuel C. Florman describes our initial thoughts about the ASUS P5NSLI motherboard. There has been much fanfare over the past few weeks surrounding the release of Intel's impressive Core 2 Duo lineup of processors. Up until now the only motherboards available that supported this CPU series have been sporting chipsets from Intel or VIA. (ASUS also offers the P5N32-SLI Deluxe SE which has Core 2 support, although that uses the older nForce4 chipset.) In fact, we are just now seeing additional Intel chipsets such as the 945P, 945G, 946PL, and 865 being launched, with the G965 and Q965 products on their way in September. After the wave of 975X and P965 products introduced at launch we are witnessing these products maturing from a performance viewpoint. Everyone has been wondering if, when, and what type of chipsets NVIDIA and ATI would bring to market to support Core 2 Duo.

We are over a week away from the official launch of the NVIDIA nForce 590SLI Intel Edition and will have to wait at least a month before seeing the ATI RD600 based motherboards. In the meantime, the first nForce 570SLI Intel Edition motherboard has been released and is for sale at this time. We just received the ASUS P5NSLI board a couple of days ago and immediately started testing it. Our testing is by no means complete but we did want to provide some early information on the board along with a few select benchmarks. We will be utilizing this board in an upcoming comparison article and will publish a performance review in the near future once we have completed benchmark testing.


The ASUS P5NSLI motherboard is based on the recently announced nForce 570SLI Intel Edition SPP (C19-A3) and MCP (MCP51-A2) chipsets. If these chipsets sound familiar they should, as the chipsets are based on the earlier nForce4 SLI XE for Intel Edition products. The SPP had been revised slightly to ensure full Core 2 Duo support along with minor performance enhancements. Our first impression of the motherboard was very good as the layout of the board is clean and well organized for an SLI capable system. The initial stock performance results of the board show it to be competitive with the Intel P965 and 945P solutions while offering a price target around US $115.

The chart above lists the standard feature set available when utilizing the NVIDIA 570SLI for Intel SPP and MCP chipsets. The 570SLI SPP enables full support for X16 PCI-E or dual X8 PCI-E graphics card configurations, up to four X1 PCI-E devices, 16GB memory addressability, and native DDR-2 667MHz memory support. The 570SLI MCP enables support for 8 USB 2.0 ports, HD Audio with S/PDIF connectors, Gigabit Ethernet support, 5 PCI slots, 4 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports, and 4 IDE devices.

NVIDIA nForce 500 Series MCPs for Intel
Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI
Segment: Enthusiast Performance SLI
CPU: Intel Socket 775
Core 2 Extreme
Core 2 Duo
Pentium D 9XX
Pentium D 8XX
Pentium 4
Intel Socket 775
Core 2 Extreme
Core 2 Duo
Pentium D 9XX
Pentium D 8XX
Pentium 4
Celeron D
NVIDIA SLI Technology: Yes - Two X16 Yes - One X16, two X8
FSB (MHz): 1066, 800, 533 MHz 1066, 800, 533 MHz
DDR2 Memory (MHz): 533/667/800 MHz + 533/667 MHz+
PCI-E - # Lanes 48 lanes 20 lanes
PCI-E - # Links 9 links 5 links
Configuration 16, 16, 8, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 16, 8, 1, 1, 1
SATA/PATA drives 6, 2 4, 4
SATA speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0,1,0+1,5 0,1,0+1,5
NVIDIA MediaShield Storage Technology Yes Yes
Native Gigabit Ethernet Connections 2 1
NVIDIA FirstPacket Technology Yes Yes
NVIDIA DualNet Technology Yes No
Teaming Yes No
TCP/IP Acceleration Yes No
NVIDIA nTune Utility Yes Limited Support
USB ports 10 8
PCI Slots 5 5
Audio HDA (Azalia) HDA (Azalia)

The NVIDIA nForce 590SLI caters to the high end gamer and enthusiast while the nForce 570SLI is targeting the value performance sector for users interested in SLI capability. The 590SLI utilizes the C51XE SPP with the 570SLI utilizing the C19A SPP. The 590SLI uses the new MCP55 from the AM2 nForce 500 product lines and the 570SLI is utilizing the current MCP51. The major difference in the two products is the availability of dual X16 PCI Express lanes on the 590SLI compared to dual X8 PCI Express lanes on the 570SLI for SLI operation. The other differences reside primarily in the MCP with the 590SLI offering DualNet networking technology, two additional USB ports, and two additional SATA 3Gb/s ports at the expense of an IDE port. Now let's take a closer look at the features this board offers.

Basic Features: ASUS P5NSLI
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  • Gary Key - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Funny how your original look at NForce5 (as linked on page 2 of this article) showed 570 was supposed to also include DualNet, yet this board does not. :[


    That is due to the fact they are using a different chipset than the AM2 family although the marketing language is the same.
    Reply
  • scott967 - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    I'm trying to understand the chart on memory which compares different chipsets. The Via PT580 falls apart on Sandra standard going from 533 to 667 memory. Is this correct?

    scott s.
    .
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    I'm trying to understand the chart on memory which compares different chipsets. The Via PT580 falls apart on Sandra standard going from 533 to 667 memory. Is this correct?


    That is correct. ASRock and VIA have figured out the issue, just waiting on a fix that hopefully is bios related and nothing else.
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    This came up before with another article, but perhaps it needs to be said again, I wish that Anandtech would stop using charts showing comparitive FPS that don't show a full FPS axis that starts with zero.

    I understand that you are trying to highlight the small differences that are being measured and that if you have a chart that uses a proper axis, starting at zero, these differenes are harder to see. However a chart with an axis starting with zero is still a better representation of the results than using a distorted graph to draw out the differences.

    Essentially, all you have graphed are the differences between the different results, and if this is what you want to do that is fine. Just relabel the graph and change the axis to show this. Call it something like "Increase in FPS with Memory Speeds Faster than DDR2-663" and then have an axis that runs from 0 to 5 FPS, since that should about cover all your results.

    Obviously, such a graph would not be very appealing or interesting, but it would be in better keeping with your data. And, the fact that it doesn't seem to be a very informative graph is precisely my point. Trying to dress these charts up, which really are only charts of the small differences between your results, as if they also provide a relative comparison of the different FPS with different motherboards and different memory timings, simply confounds things. You would do better to pick one or the other to represent, but not mash both together as you are doing now.

    It is bad enough that these statistics are posted in such a manner that pays little heed to the kinds of variations that are involved. Magnifying tiny differences in order to make them seen more significant only compounds the problem. Without these distorted graphs a reader might more correctly conclude that the differences in the frame rates, comparing these two different motherboards while using memory running at different speeds, are essentially insignificant. And, drawing out speculative conclusions, based on the perception of any differences, is most likely just much ado about nothing.
    Reply
  • hibachirat - Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - link

    I don't mind those. But the red and green lines are to close for my red-green color blindness. I can almost tell them apart...but would be nice it the green was brightened and/or the red darkened just a bit. Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    This came up before with another article, but perhaps it needs to be said again, I wish that Anandtech would stop using charts showing comparitive FPS that don't show a full FPS axis that starts with zero.
    Zero based graphs are available by clicking on the orginal image. :)
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    quote:

    This came up before with another article, but perhaps it needs to be said again, I wish that Anandtech would stop using charts showing comparitive FPS that don't show a full FPS axis that starts with zero.


    Our full review will not utilize these charts. Instead of separating the information and showing pages and pages of the data we felt like this was the best way to collectively show it all at once. We end up with either a graph that has the majority of data points stacked into a single line path or the other evil of not having a zero based graph. We are still working on an updated engine so hopefully this issue disappears quickly or we go back to the bar charts.

    Personally, it really bothers me not to have a zero base graph. I will work on another alternative today and update the article if it works. Thanks for the comments and we do agree with you.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    We have added a zero-based graphs as pop-ups if you want to see those results. The number tables at the bottom of the charts are intended to help you see that the scores really aren't that far apart, but now you can see the true relative difference. Reply
  • shecknoscopy - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    Well, I've never been that discouraged with their axis labeling, but I could see how someone unfamiliar with the world of statistics could be misled by purported performance differences that are actually within the measurement error.

    Personally, if I were the one reporting these data, I'd use <b>both</b> methods. Plot the data as you currently do - so as to highlight subtle differences, and <b>also</b> place them on a full graph (where y ranges between 0 and the maximum observed value) in an inset. That way you get a nice zoom-in on the "interesting stuff," and a smaller zoom-out to illustrate that the differences are typically minor, compared to the absolute values.

    I'll also point out that, if you <i>really</i> want to get persnippity about their stats reporting, you should demand that they repeat their tests several times, and report each datum with an error bar. :)

    Of course, most of my suggestions for improvement involve the word "bar."

    -sheq
    Reply
  • Renoir - Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - link

    I feel it's important to put a lot of these results in perspective with regards to their level of significance. For me personally when looking at results I find the thing that I find most useful is percentages. Lately it seems that a lot of system variables (memory timings/frequency, cpu cache etc) often result in differences of less than 10% in most cases which to me isn't that significant when just getting 1 higher speed bin on your cpu would get you that and probably for less money than say buying the very best ram. I guess I'm saying that when I see graphs that are zoomed in to highlight minor differences I find myself thinking "ok I see why they've done that but it would be nice to be given a percentage so that I can make a quick and dirty evaluation of whether the difference is significant or not". Just some random thoughts :-) Reply

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