Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe review
The backbone of the A8N-SLI Deluxe is given away by its name; it’s based on the fast, feature-rich nVidia nForce4 SLI chipset. This not only offers hardware-firewalled Gigabit Ethernet, a range of RAID options for the four Serial ATA 2 ports it feeds and lightning quick core logic, but also feeds two PCI Express graphics slots.
While SLI may seem overkill – one decent graphics card is more than enough for most people – it does offer a friendly upgrade path. Get one graphics card to power your games today, and then when it can’t handle the new game you’ve just bought, add a second to near-double performance on the cheap. And the latest nForce drivers are now flexible enough to accept any two SLI-able cards of the same chipset, rather than two exact same cards from the same manufacturer.
Asus also adds its own flair to the board. There’s a second RAID controller for a maximum of eight hard disks. A large two-slot gap between the two graphics slots allows for double-height graphics cards or GPU water-cooling blocks. And all the connectors, power sockets and headers are sensibly placed for a neat system with smooth, efficient airflow. There’s also a Marvell chip to add a second Gigabit Ethernet port. Add to this the 7.1 audio from the Realtek audio codec, the three USB headers plus a single FireWire header, and the A8N-SLI Deluxe is a brilliant foundation for your AMD system.
It’s fast too. We used our usual AMD testing components – an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+, 1GB of Crucial PC3200 RAM, a Western Digital Raptor hard disk and GeForce 6600 GT graphics card – and the board raced to 1.25 in our application benchmarks.
So the A8N-SLI Deluxe offers all you want from a motherboard, and the price isn’t too high either. Especially when you take into consideration everything else that comes in the box. From extra Serial ATA cables to parallel cables and backplates, there’s nothing extra you’ll have to go out buy. Our only concern is the noisy chipset fan, but if you’re prepared to replace it with a passive version (£7 from www.quietpc.co.uk) then, once fitted, you’ll have a powerful AMD dual core-capable board with so many connectors and system-building possibilities you’ll be the envy of all.