Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe twin x16 SLI mobo
Review Asus' A8N32-SLI Deluxe is one of the first motherboards with two PCI Express graphics card slots that offer the full PCI-E bandwidth of 16 lanes to each slot. Rather than releasing a new chipset altogether Nvidia made a standalone x16 lane PCI-E controller, the SPP 100.
Whether all this results in higher performance with today's hardware is debatable. According to Nvidia, the 512MB GeForce 7800 GTX cards are those that benefit the most from having the full x16 bandwidth in SLI mode. Sadly, I didn't have two 512MB cards at hand when I tested the A8N32-SLI Deluxe so there was no way to verify this claim...
Asus has worked closely with Corsair when developing this board and as such both companies are recommending each others' products. Corsair's XMS3500LL Pro memory has been specifically designed to work in conjunction with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe. This memory has a latency of 2-3-2-6 and the modules are rated at 438MHz.
However, the standard is 400MHz PC3200 memory, so it might seem odd to have only a slight clock increase. The reason for this is that the latest stepping of AMD processors has a new memory controller that allows for a new range of multipliers to be used. As such the XMS3500LL Pro modules can be run at the rated speed without any parts of the system having to be overclocked.
This only brings a slight performance increase, but if you've already decided to build a high-end system you'd want to squeeze every little bit of performance out of it. For most people this means overclocking and the benefits are there for those that want to pursue them - the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is more than up to the job.
I mention this because this is the first motherboard with eight-phase power regulation I've come across. Gigabyte is offering six-phase power with the help of an external module, but in the case of the A8N32-SLI Deluxe this is all on board. It's hard to prove how much this reduces ripple and other 'dirty' elements in the power without having access to some fairly sophisticated equipment, but it's definitely not a bad feature to have.
Due to the complex power regulation Asus has fitted rather large heatsinks to the MOSFETS - they get quite hot - and has followed up on the passive chipset cooling from the A8N-SLI Premium. However, as the board is now using a two-part chipset, there are now two heatpipes, one from the main chipset and one from the SPP. Both terminate in the same copper radiator which sits on top of the rear-most MOSFETS.
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