The new high-end motherboards that we are seeing from ASUS are utilizing a heat pipe design to help cool the main chipsets. The copper heat pipe not only looks great but seems to work quite effectively as we have also been using the ASUS A8N-SLI Premium which has only worked well.
The board layout is easy to work with 1 IDE, floppy drive and the main ATX connector on the top right side of the board. Just next to the main ATX connector we also see the EZ PLUG connector that is used if you're running SLI. This helps your PCI Express slots get a little bit of extra juice and keep things stable.
Moving to the bottom of the board we have another IDE port, 4 x SATA ports and our MCP that helps power one of the PCI Express 16x slots along with our other features like Gigabit LAN and SATA.
The slot layout consists of two 16x PCI Express slots along with one 4x PCI Express slot and 3 normal PCI slots. The Deluxe/WIFI model also has the wireless device just above the 4x PCI Express slot. Around this area we also have a spare SATA port.
As far as connectivity goes on the IO side of things we have our normal PS2 ports, parallel port we see on all motherboards along with a SPIDF and optical output for sound, 2 Gigabit LAN ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports and our 6 audio ports for analogue sound and even a SATA port for external drives.
- Gigabit LAN
The two Gigabit LAN ports are powered by two separate controllers - one being the native one built into the nForce 4 MCP and the other powered by the Marvel 88E8053.
For the mini and normal sized Firewire ports we have the Texas Instruments controller that offers support for Firewire A, providing a maximum bandwidth of 400Mbps. This is the same controller found on the ASUS P5WD2 motherboard we just looked at.
- A few extras
A few things that you don't pick up until you setup the motherboard is the extended space between the PCI 16x slots that ASUS have used on all their SLI motherboards, which is great for graphics cards which come with large coolers or if you intend to use after market coolers from companies such as Arctic Cooling.
Normally you have to use an SLI selector adapter and adjust it to single or SLI but the new ASUS motherboards (including the A8N-SLI Premium) are able to do it automatically now which makes installation that much more painless.
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