ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe
- Wide range of connectivity options, strong in graphics tests, can listen to cds without booting up machine
- Bios problems, no RAID driver floppy
The features of this board are plentiful and satisfying, but we were disappointed that we had to change power supplies to get this board to work properly.
Price$ 279.00 (AUD)
The three pages worth of specifications in this motherboard's manual were enough to make us dizzy. ASUS doesn't call this board the Deluxe for nothing! It has the regular gamut of ports that the nForce4 SLI chipset brings to the table, and it adds to those by incorporating a second Gigabit Ethernet port, a Silicon Image SATA RAID controller and FireWire ports. Additionally, it comes with an entire range of legacy ports, including a game/midi port.
Things didn't get off to a smooth start with this board during testing, however, as we were plagued by mysterious VGA problems that prohibited us from booting the machine once we completed installation. The talking BIOS informed us of this "VGA error". We even plugged a 12V cable into the EZ Plug slot, which is generally only needed when two graphics cards are installed, but we still had no luck. Finally, we swapped our 20-pin power supply for a 24-pin supply, which seemed to get rid of the booting problems.
Testing the board proved that it is one of the slickest on the market. It was particularly strong in the graphics test, where it scored far better than its rivals. Its Windows Media Encoding performance was also stellar.
It's clear that ASUS has put a lot of work into this board. Apart from the talking BIOS POST report, the BIOS also has an Instant Music feature that allows you to listen to CDs without actually booting into Windows. One thing we wish ASUS would do is supply a floppy disk for their RAID driver. That seems to be the only thing that is missing from this package!
As for its physical layout, the board has logically placed ports around the side and bottom edges and the PCIe release levers are easy to access and don't have any capacitors nearby. A heat sink cools the transistors near the CPU socket while fan cools the nForce4 SLI chipset itself. ASUS also sells a Premium edition of this board that uses a heat-pipe solution to cool the transistors and nForce4 SLI chipset. The Premium edition also forgoes the physical selection circuit board for enabling SLI. In the Premium edition, SLI mode can be enabled through the BIOS.
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