Asus K8N-E: Features and Layout

 Asus K8N-E Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket 754 Athlon 64
Chipset nVidia nForce3-250Gb
CPU Ratios 4 to CPU Default in 0.5X increments
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 300MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds Auto, 66MHz to 75MHz (in 1MHz increments)
HyperTransport 1x-4x (200MHz to 800MHz) in 1x
Core Voltage 0.85V-1.75V in .025V increments
DRAM Voltage Auto, 2.5V to 2.7V in 0.1V increments
AGP Voltage 1.5V to 1.7V in 0.1V increments
Memory Slots Three 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Unbuffered Memory to 3GB Total
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA/RAID 2-drive SATA by nVidia nF3-250GB
RAID 0, 1, JBOD plus
Silicon Image 3114 4-Drive SATA
RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, JBOD
Onboard IDE/RAID Two nVidia ATA133/100/66 by nF3-250Gb
(4 drives) RAID 0, 1, JBOD
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by nF3-250
2 FireWire ports by VIA VT6307
Onboard LAN Gigabit Ethernet by 88E1111 PHY
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC850 8-Channel
With Coaxial and Optical SPDIF Out
BIOS 1004 Release (8/13/2004)

While Asus was quick to get Socket 754 boards to market based on the VIA chipset, it has taken them quite a while to bring an nForce3-250Gb board to market. This was more than a bit surprising, considering some of the excellent nForce 2 designs with an Asus name. We were more than a bit surprised, however, to find the uneven range of adjustment options on the K8N-E. Perhaps this is a concession to the K8N-E appearing late in the 754 cycle, but we were particularly dismayed by memory voltage adjustments that top out at 2.7V. This is not even adequate for some of the best-performing memory on the market when you use 2 or more DIMMs at DDR400. Some of the fastest current memory requires 2.8V with 2 DIMMs at DDR400.

The other surprise was the decision by Asus to use just 2 nVidia SATA channels, with 4 additional Silicon Image SATA connectors. While 6 SATA connections are nice, you will see in our overclocking tests that this arrangement makes serious overclocking with a SATA drive all but impossible. We have had much better success with boards that use the full nVidia "any-drive" RAID, since SATA channels 3 and 4 are usually great choices for unrestricted overclocking with SATA drives.

Fortunately, Asus did use a PHY chip to preserve fully the on-chip nVidia gigabit Ethernet. This means that your gigabit LAN is capable of running at full speed without the constraints of the PCI bus.

Asus is normally masterful in their board layouts, with careful attention to function and placement of board components. The K8N-E is typical Asus, which means that the layout is very good indeed.

IDE connectors are in our preferred upper right edge location, though Asus has placed the floppy connector on the bottom right edge of the board - a less desirable location in many case layouts. If you need to connect a floppy, make sure that you pay close attention to the location of the floppy in your case compared to the K8N-E. The 20-pin ATX connector and 4-pin 12V are almost ideal, since both are out of the way on board edges and do not need to be snaked over or around any components.

The CPU socket area is clear and can generally handle oversized HSF. Only the top edge between the CPU socket and the rear IO is a concern, with a row of capacitors and coils close to the socket. Fortunately, the capacitors are on the short side, making it likely that most big overhanging heatsinks will clear the caps.

Except for the inadequate memory voltages available, the overclocking controls are OK, if not noteworthy. The CPU voltage is wider than what we see on many competing boards, and the 200 to 300 CPU adjustments are average. Asus did not include any chipset voltage adjustments at all on the K8N-E, a feature that many will miss. Also, the HT range only extends to 4X in large 1X increments - a range to 5X like many competitors with finer 0.5X adjustments would have been useful. It was good to see Asus paying more attention to the FID/VID ratios, where finer 0.5X adjustments will be appreciated by any enthusiast.

All-in-all, the K8N-E is a really mixed bag, with some adjustments that are exemplary, and others, missing or downright crude. With the attention that Asus has lavished on their VIA-chipset Athlon 64 boards, you have to wonder what they were thinking when designing the K8N-E. As you will see in our benchmark results, this lack of consistent OC controls with broad ranges is really a shame, since the Asus K8N-E is a fast 754 stock speeds.

Index Asus K8N-E: Overclocking and Stress Testing


View All Comments

  • MemberSince97 - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Boy, ya sure dont here much noise from FIC these days. Reply
  • MemberSince97 - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Edit ^^^Mr Fink......... Reply
  • MemberSince97 - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Good job Mr Finks, Keep on truckin... Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Things can change. Ask anyone who has gone from madly in love to a divorce :-)

    I was very clear that 939 is still faster at the same speed by 2% to 5%. We really expected 939 to make a bigger performance difference than it does when we wrote the pre-939 review. We also had no idea at that point that AMD would keep 939 so much more expensive than 754 and introduce value A64s only in 754 clothes.

    I really don't think there is anything inconsistent in our statements. 939 still performs better at the same speed, but many can't or won't pay the current price of 939 admission. 754 can also pass 939 in performance if you can reach higher overclocks with 754.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    #3 - Good luck connecting your IDE cable to a SATA port. I understand your point, but most everyone understands IDE refers to the 40-pin connector. Reply
  • draazeejs - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Nice article, but I think AT should stay a bit consistent in their statements. Approx. a week before the s939 for A64 was released, they said - wait, do not buy any s754 mobos and CPUs, s939 is the future bla bla bla. Now, 2 months later, they even suggest to buy s754, because the s939 is just by far too expensive at the moment. Money rules the world... Reply
  • Zepper - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    FYI: SATA=IDE, to differentiate, it's SATA and PATA...
  • Avalon - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    I wonder why the DFI board suffers those two noticeable drops in Specviewperf. Not that Specviewperf is something that matters to me, but it's a bit weird. Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - link

    Will AnandTech review the ASRock K8 Combo-Z board? Reply

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