ASUS P5N-E SLI Basic Features

ASUS P5N-E SLI
Market Segment: Mid-Range Performance - $129.99~$149.99
CPU Interface: Socket T (Socket 775)
CPU Support: LGA775-based Pentium 4, Celeron D, Pentium D, Pentium EE, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme
Chipset: NVIDIA 650i SPP (C55) + 650i MCP (nF430)
Bus Speeds: Auto, 533 to 3000 QDR in 1MHz increments
Memory Ratios: Auto, Sync, 1:1, 5:4, 3:2
Memory Speed: 400MHz~2600MHz in various increments
PCIe Speeds: 100MHz~131MHz in 1MHz Increments
Core Voltage: Auto, .83125V to 1.60000V in 0.00625V increments
Core Voltage Offset: Disable, +100mV
CPU Clock Multiplier: Auto, 6x-11x in 1X increments if CPU is unlocked, downwards unlocked, Core 2 Duo
DRAM Voltage: Auto, 1.920V ~ 2.517V in various increments
DRAM Timing Control: Auto, 13 DRAM Timing Options
NB Voltage: Auto, 1.208V, 1.393V, 1.563V, 1.748V
Memory Slots: Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered Memory to 8GB Total
Expansion Slots: 2 - PCIe X16 (2 - x8 electrical for SLI or Multi-GPU)
1 - PCIe x1
2 - PCI Slot 2.2
Onboard SATA/RAID: 4 SATA 3Gbps Ports - 650i MCP
  (RAID 0,1, 0+1, 5, JBOD)
1 e-SATA 3Gbps Port - JMicron JMB361
Onboard IDE: 2 ATA133/100/66 Port (4 drives) - 650i MCP
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394: 8 USB 2.0 Ports - 4 I/O Panel - 4 via Headers
2 Firewire 400 Ports by VIA VT6308 - 1 I/O Panel, 1 via Header
Onboard LAN: Marvell Gigabit Ethernet
- PCI Express - 88E1116 PHY
Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC883 - 6-channel HD audio codec
Power Connectors: ATX 24-pin, 4-pin EATX 12V
I/O Panel: 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x Parallel Port
1 x e-SATA
1 x S/PDIF Coaxial - Out
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x Audio Panel
1 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
BIOS Revision: Award 0101
Board Revision: 1.01G

ASUS follows a trend they started in the P5N series of boards by offering a moderate level of BIOS options for tweaking the board, with significant emphasis placed on the available memory settings. We found in memory testing that switching to manual settings and changing the tCAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, and command timing rate was required in order to maintain stability as our overclocking tests will show shortly. The board also features ASUS' AI overclocking system that will intelligently overclock the system based upon CPU load or off predetermined settings. This system generally overclocked the board between 7%-11% and is designed for users who want a little extra performance without worrying about adjusting multiple BIOS settings in order to tune the board.

Click to enlarge

The board layout that ASUS devised for this chipset is actually quite good and we are glad to see the standard mustard color ASUS uses on their base boards has been banished from this design. The board features a very good three-phase power design and high quality capacitors. There are three fan headers located in easy to reach positions on the board, and they are easily controlled through ASUS' AI Suite or Speedfan. The board installed without issues into several cases and cable management was very good for both power and the optical/hard drives. The floppy drive connector is located at the bottom of the board and could present an issue for larger cases where the enclosed cable is not able to reach the floppy drive. The area around the CPU is slightly cluttered but we had no issues fitting our larger air coolers on this board. However, installation was slightly difficult due to the two large capacitors located in the upper right hand corner of the CPU mounting points.

The PCI Express and PCI slot arrangements are designed with multiple graphics card operation in mind, but this layout will mean the loss of a PCI slot if dual slot video cards are utilized. Like the original nForce4 SLI boards, this board requires the use of a paddle card to enable dual video cards. The C55 SPP is cooled by a large passive heatsink that worked fine up until we started overclocking above the 450FSB range, at which point it required an increase in voltage to 1.393V. We suggest a case with good airflow in it for this reason and the fact that the nF430 MCP is not cooled. We do not understand ASUS' decision to not cool the MCP unit with at least a small passive heatsink as this chipset tends to run hot during overclocking. Speaking of the nF430 MCP, it features four SATA 3Gb/s ports and two UltraATA 133 IDE ports that support up to four drives. This board offers a very good balance of SATA and PATA drive capability, and many users will welcome the return of dual IDE ports.

The audio subsystem is based on the Realtek ALC883 and offers 6-channel output. Realtek has had troubles recently with EAX 2.0 support but we did notice a slight improvement in the 1.51 driver set. However, the ADI 1988B HD audio codec that ASUS utilizes in their upper level boards still offers significantly better EAX audio quality in games than the Realtek HD codecs. ASUS includes the excellent VIA VT6308 IEEE 1394 controller along with the Marvell 88E1116 PHY for Gigabit Ethernet capability.

Index Test Setup and Overclocking
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  • Thats Me - Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - link

    I currently have an Intel D945Gnt motherboard that has proven to be a looser in various ways. Using an Intel Dual-Core 3.2 Ghz processor, 2x512 Mb dual channel RAM. Am considering change to the Asus P5N-E motherboard so need advice--will my existing CPU work Ok in the Asus?
    HELP!
    Reply
  • jdrom17 - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    Just wondering if you are going to update the review, as ASUS released a new BIOS version yesterday (Jan 22) which says it fixes memory compatibility.

    It may solve the issues you ran into, and I'd like to know if it does.
    Reply
  • MikeeeE18 - Tuesday, January 09, 2007 - link

    I read some of the reviews over here and it was a big help in oc my E6600 on the p5n-e. Currently im runin it at 3.21ghz, but my mem timings are wack. Im kinda new to this so any help would be appreciated. I have the system set to 1425 fsb (qdr) x 9 (multiplier) using pc5300 mem 2gb pqi and evga 7950gt ko. I tried setting the fsb to 1608 like it says in one of the reviews but it overloaded the system. Hoping to get some results out of this so i can make this thing a bit faster. Thanks. Reply
  • Operandi - Tuesday, January 02, 2007 - link

    Nice review, bonus points for the fan control information. Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    quote:

    a bit more testing and validation in the future before launch might be a better solution than BIOS patches after the fact


    Testing? But that would delay getting the product out to market before the competition, and possibly stuff up their overly enthusiastic deadlines and announcements. Not to mention costing money that they could save to let the customers beta test it. The people buying these things are tweakers anyway.

    Hey, the software industry gets away with releasing shoddy, half-finished products all the time, and in fact gets the same people to keep buying them. Not to mention releasing essentially the same product with a slightly different name (nF5/nF6).
    Reply
  • PoorBoy - Saturday, December 23, 2006 - link

    I would like to know where you are setting this FSB to 402X9 (Exactly what are you setting to 402 ?)or other FSB# Settings. I just received 2 of theses Boards and Compared to a Gigabyte DQ6 or ASUS P5W DH Board which I have also I'm at a complete loss with this Board. So far no where in the BIOS do I see where I can make this change, I've been in all the Sections & Sub Sections of the BIOS but have yet to find where to change the FSB ... ??? Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    Go into the BIOS -

    Enter the Advanced Section -

    Change AI Tuning to Manual -

    Go to FSB & Memory Config -

    Changed Linked mode to Unlinked, feel free to change the FSB (QDR) rates. In this BIOS, 402FSB will be set as a 1608 (QDR) in this field.

    I beleive section 2.24 of the manual has further details if my memory serves me. I just arrived at the airport and will be offline for a week in a few moments. ;-)
    Reply
  • PoorBoy - Monday, December 25, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the Tip Gary, that's what I figured I had to do. The only problem is the FSB (QDR) only allows me to set the FSB between 533 & 3000. That's not going to work for me, even @ 533 with a 9 Multiplier that's way to high a CPU Clocks speed for the system to run.

    I tried backing off the Multiplier to 6 and going with 533 which should be about 3.2Ghz & about where I want to run the PC. The PC booted up but was only showing me a 1.59Ghz for the CPU ... ??? I'm starting to dislike this MB immensely, sometimes more is not better IMO...All the different Options, Linked, Unlinked, AUTO, Manual, I guess is something for the Die Hard OClockers but for somebody like me who just wants to go in the BIOS & set the FSB & Voltage without all the Head Scratching on what the different Options are this isn't a good board for them.

    I would return the boards but the policy where I got them is for replacement only for defective boards so I may have to just eat them & get something else that I'm familiar with. I do have 4 E6600's running on different boards @ 3.5-3.6Ghz with no problems & a X6800EE running @ 3.8Ghz also with no problems. Live and learn I guess ... Thanks again ... Steve
    Reply
  • Marlowe - Saturday, December 23, 2006 - link

    It would be very interesting if you could test the 8800GTX SLI setup in high resolution in several games that are known for acctually benefiting from SLI! So we can see how the performance difference is between the 2x16x on the 680i and the 2x8x on the 650i :-) Maby having 2x16x pci-e is more "placebo" than really important for perfomance? ;-)

    I also think it's interesting that there are no s775 motherboard chipset with 2x16x pci-e lanes. Both the 975X and RD600 offers "just" 2x8x pci-e if I am correct. Only the RD580 chipset for s939 and AM2 have the 2x16x pci-e feature. I wonder how the upcoming R600 cards will perform on these different platforms, how they also in Crossfire perform on the two different "speed grades" of motherboards :-) I wonder if ATI/AMD will come with a s775 chipset with true 2x16x pci-e for the release of R600 :-)
    Reply
  • semo - Sunday, December 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    So we can see how the performance difference is between the 2x16x on the 680i and the 2x8x on the 650i
    yeah me too. i remember there were discussions about the pci-e transition because apparently the agp interface was quite sufficient for the traffic gf cards generated back then. i think it's also because the agp interface was not so reliable when approaching its limits but i'm really not too sure about that.

    anyway, it's interesting to know whether today's gf cards make benefit of the higher digital bandwidth
    Reply

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