Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe Inverness

As the second nForce4 SLI chip generates extra heat, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe has a different cooling system from those of its predecessors. The two nForce4 SLI chips are linked by a heatpipe that snakes across the PCB at a 45-degree angle, before hitting a large radiator at the rear of the motherboard.

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Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe

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The A8N32-SLI Deluxe is the third major revision of the A8N-SLI, and follows on from the A8N-SLI Deluxe and the A8N-SLI Premium. So what makes the A8N32-SLI Deluxe different?

Initially, it seems no different. As with the other A8N-SLI-series boards, the 16x PCI-E slots on the A8N32-SLI Deluxe are separated by two PCI slots, with plenty of room in between for dual-slot coolers. There's also one 4x PCI-E slot. All of the features you'd expect to find on a high-end motherboard are present, including dual Gigabit Ethernet, 8-channel AC97 on-board audio, six S-ATA II ports, six USB 2 ports and two FireWire ports.

The big difference is the A8N32-SLI Deluxe's second nForce4 SLI chip, which means that it supports two 16x PCI-E slots instead of the two 8x PCI-E slots on standard nForce4 SLI motherboards. Unfortunately, there's practically no benefit to be had from this at the moment, as two graphics cards from the current generation simply don't need that many PCI-E lanes. For example, Quake 4 with two GeForce 7800 GTX cards in SLI at 1,600 x 1,200 with 4x AA and 8x AF ran no faster on the A8N32-SLI Deluxe than it did on the standard A8N-SLI Deluxe. However, Nvidia claims that the new 7800 GTX 512 will make use of the extra bandwidth. We'll test this claim as soon as we get two 7800 GTX 512 cards in the lab.

As the second nForce4 SLI chip generates extra heat, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe has a different cooling system from those of its predecessors. The two nForce4 SLI chips are linked by a heatpipe that snakes across the PCB at a 45-degree angle, before hitting a large radiator at the rear of the motherboard. The radiator is passively cooled, so it's silent, but this means that your case will need good airflow to dissipate the heat. If you plan to use water or phase-change cooling for your CPU, then Asus supplies an optional 40mm crossflow fan that snaps onto the top of the radiator. This spins at 3,000rpm but isn't too noisy.

One of our major criticisms of the earlier A8N-SLI-series boards was their inability to overvolt the CPU by any great margin. The A8N32-SLI Deluxe has a new eight-phase power circuit, which not only improves voltage stability, but also allows you to whack up the CPU voltage to 1.5625V, and the RAM voltage to 3.2V. The BIOS has been improved too, allowing you to adjust the voltage and frequency of the two nForce4 SLI chips, and you can also tweak the memory timings to your heart's content. Like all recent Asus motherboards, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe also features PEG Link, which can automatically pre-overclock any Nvidia graphics card from within the BIOS. It's a really useful little tweak and gives the A8N32-SLI Deluxe a neat performance boost straight out of the box. PEG Link can be disabled if you want to manually overclock your graphics card.

The A8N32-SLI Deluxe performs the same as any decent nForce4 SLI motherboard in our 2D benchmarks, achieving an overall score of 1.31. More remarkable is its gaming performance, which, thanks to PEG Link, is superb. With our GeForce 6800 GT, it averaged 52fps in Battlefield 2 at 1,280 x 1,024 with 2x AA and 2x AF. This is around 4fps faster than the EQS A72K9-CF.

By lowering the CPU multiplier to 6x and upping the chipset voltages, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe completed our benchmarks with a 335MHz FSB. However, with the multiplier at default, our Athlon 64 X2 4200+ test CPU overclocked to 230MHz FSB, which increased the overall score to 1.49.



CONCLUSION

Few people will need two 16x PCI-E slots, but the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is still a decent high-end motherboard. It's passively cooled, overclockable, well laid out and has plenty of features. The trouble is, it's also expensive, costing over £40 more than the A8N-SLI Deluxe. The A8N32-SLI Deluxe is only worth considering if you're planning an uber SLI rig, and even then, its benefits are almost non-existant at the moment.

Author: James Gorbold

Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe