Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe review
The Asus P5ND2-SLI Deluxe has been our A-Listed Intel motherboard for just two months, but Asus has already brought out an improvement. The P5N32-SLI Deluxe has the new dual 16x PCI Express bus version of the nForce4 Intel Edition chipset at its heart, and Asus has fitted heatpipes and radiators for silent cooling.
This is a very positive step, as north bridge fans can be small and whiny – the most irritating kind of noise. However, as anyone who owns a Pentium 4 knows, a stock Intel heatsink/fan drowns out motherboard fans, so you’ll need something like the Scythe Ninja for £35 to reap the benefits. You could opt for water-cooling, but Asus advises you to use the two quiet radiator fans if you do. Fitting these is a fiddly process and we were constantly in fear of breaking the plastic catches.
Fortunately, another choice is to use an Intel Pentium 4 600 series processor that includes Intel’s SpeedStep technology. Combined with Asus’ AI Quiet utility, this automatically reduces the clock speed of the processor when performing undemanding tasks, and in doing so reduces the cooling requirements – and thus the utility can reduce the speed of the fan.
As with all nForce4 SLI motherboards, the P5N32-SLI Deluxe also benefits from a number of added features. We love the ActiveArmor hardware firewall, and there’s support for RAID0, 1, 0+1 and 5 (via the four Serial ATA ports or the two Ultra ATA connectors). Asus adds its usual variety of extras too, with an extra RAID controller, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and an external SATA port being just the highlights.
These extras make the P5N32-SLI Deluxe an expensive choice. Granted you get all the headers you’ll ever need, double-spaced graphics slots for better cooling, a digital SLI switch and great performance (it scored 1.00 in our benchmarks). However, the P5ND2-SLI Deluxe is around £30 cheaper and includes almost all the same features. The P5N32-SLI Deluxe is still an attractive choice, but only if you’ll take advantage of its silencing features.