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

  • Term - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    Uhm.. the new ASUS bios fix the OC stability problem with SATA right? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    #34 - The Asus K8N-E manual does state 3MB of memory as the maximum capacity. The specifications have been corrected in the review. Reply
  • LocutusX - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link


    For more accurate "real-world advice" concerning the K8N-E, please see the unofficial thread for that mobo at the Anandtech forums. There are people there who have been using it extensively for the last 2 months, who have tried a wide variety of components/overclocking on it.
  • justly - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    #27 – Wesley
    Thank you for the explanation about your testing methodology, now I feel more comfortable knowing that you do check for these minor deviations when comparing new products against older ones.

    #28 – Wesley (again)
    I agree about it being a shame that SiS seems to always get dumped on by big name motherboard manufactures and that even when a good product hits the street it seems to get forgotten about or overlooked. The thing is I still think you are just as guilty as many others reviewers. If you don’t understand what I mean then just look at #32 (by PrinceGaz) since I would have said the EXACT same thing.
    This might be a little arrogant of me, but would it really hurt to mention their product when talking about a section of the market that they perform so well in (non-overclockers).
  • Daxzus - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    also...I was wondering if anyone has a good powersupply and case that might work good for me for a good price. Reply
  • Daxzus - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    I read every thing that was in the review about the 3 diffrent motherboards and I have some questions.

    In the review it was said that the Asus K8N-E deluxe maxed out at 2GB of memory, but at newegg and some all the other places I can buy it from-and even Asus homepage, say that the Asus K8N-E deluxe has a max of 3GB of memory. What this in error in the reveiw or am I looking at buying the wrong board?

    Also I was thinking about buying the Asus K8N-E deluxe and I have a college budget and I was wanting to get some recomendation as to some really good cheap memory to get for it. Also maybe some good budget video cards. I saw that in the review that ATI 9800 was used...wouldn't a Nvidia video card work better considering the chip set?

    but all in all thank for the info that you put into the reviews Fink!

  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    I just hope that your upcoming OC article will at least mention sempron 3100+, since you (AT)did promise to OC it, but untill now you have not done so. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    #28 Wesley Fink-

    From the aricle- "If overclocking is not particularly important to you, then one of the first generation boards based on the VIA chipset might also meet your needs at a lower price."

    And your reply- "There is actually another complaint about Sis. None of the Sis A64 cipsets I have tested, including the 939 Reference Board, have a working PCI/AGP lock."

    If overclocking is not particularly important to someone, the lack of a PCI/AGP lock wouldn't matter.
  • jwix - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    The article mentions overclocking difficulties with SATA drives with the DFI board being the exception. I wonder....if running 2 drives in a raid 1 config, would it make it any more difficult to overclock on the DFI? Reply
  • LocutusX - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    "The problem is ports 1 and 2 on nVidia are coupled with the PHY Gigabit LAN and generally will not overclock very well."


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