Asus P5NSLI review
Since its launch in 2004, Nvidia’s SLI technology has slipped gracefully into the mainstream. The P5NSLI is the first Nforce 500 Series for Intel motherboard we’ve seen, promising SLI with Core 2 Duo for only £63.
As an Nforce 570 board, you get two graphics slots, each fed with eight PCI Express lanes, which is fine for all but the most extreme SLI setups. Curiously, you have to set whether you have single or dual graphics with a mini-PCB (we’re more used to digital switches automatically detecting a second card now). If you don’t want SLI, you can also use the second graphics slot to house a 1x or 4x card. You also get all of the features of the AMD variant, although none of these are particularly exciting.
Unfortunately, performance is down when compared to the Intel 975X chipset. In our Core 2 Duo tests, we saw the same E6700 CPU and 800MHz Crucial RAM achieve 1.65 to this board’s 1.58. And the P5NSLI won’t support some types of performance RAM either: you can only give modules up to 2.1V when some require 2.2V. You’re free to adjust latencies as much as you want, though, and can also set a 1T Command Rate (the pause between one RAM-based action and the next) for a small speed boost.
Asus has cut some corners with the design, as the low price implies. There’s only a six-channel HD codec and no FireWire for a start. But you do get serial and parallel ports, plus Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 2 ports at the rear. There are two USB 2 headers on the board for a further four ports, with a dual-port backplate in the box. You also get two SATA data cables, and a Molex-to-SATA power converter to power two disks. However, for £15 more, you can buy the A-Listed Foxconn, which has integrated FireWire and eSATA, as well as being a touch faster.
Not surprisingly, this board isn’t as laden with extras as some of the more recent motherboards we’ve seen. It lacks FireWire, has an uninspiring bundle and slightly lightweight BIOS. Our early sample also showed disappointing performance. At this price, it’s fine for a no-frills, reasonably fast Core 2 Duo PC, but we’d still go for the Foxconn, as it more than justifies the extra £15 outlay.