IntroductionIntroductionIt isn't a mystery to us that nVidia has released a second nForce 4 Intel Edition chipset. nVidia has had a track record of not getting it perfect the first time around, but we have to give it to the 3D giant - they are always willing to fix a flop, and this is one of the times we are happy to see a new revision.The original nForce 4 Intel Edition was plagued with a few major problems. The first was that it still needed to use two PCI Express x8 slots to get SLI, rather than using two PCI-E x16 slots like it was originally planned to have. The most important flaw was compatibility with Intel's top of the line processors. nForce 4 Intel Edition would not work with the Intel Pentium Extreme Edition Dual Core with Hyper-Threading CPU's, it would simply result in a locked up system after about 20 minutes of use. The new nForce 4 Intel Edition x16 has come to the party to remedy the problems of the past, and today we have ASUS's offering on the table. So come with us to have a gander at the ASUS P5N32-SLI motherboard.
SpecificationsSpecifications of the ASUS P5N32-SLICPUSupports Intel Pentium 4 5xx Series (800FSB)Supports Intel Pentium 4 6xx Series (800FSB)Supports Intel Pentium D 8xx Series (800FSB Dual Core)Supports Intel Pentium Extreme Edition (800FSB Dual Core with HT)Supports Intel Celeron D Series (533FSB)Supports Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition (800-1066FSB LGA775 Only)ChipsetnVidia nForce4 SLI x16 Intel EditionnVidia nForce4 C19 SSPnVidia nForce MCP804Hyper Transport at 8GB/sSystem Memory4 DDR2 SDRAM 240pin DIMM SocketsSupports DDR2-533/667/800MhzSupports up to 8GB Total Memory (4x 2GB)Bus Frequency133/200/266MHz Internal533/800/1066MHz ExternalNetburst Micro ArchitectureExpansion Slots2 PCI Express x162 PCI Express x11 PCI Express x42 PCIConnectivity1 Parallel ATA port supporting 2 IDE Drives5 Serial ATA ports1 e.SATA Port2 Gigabit Ethernet PortExpansion Ports1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port8 USB 2.0 Ports 1 e.SATA Port1 Parallel Port1 SPDIF Ports6 Stereo Audio Ports
Package and ContentsPackage and Contents
The MotherboardThe Motherboard
OverclockingAn Overclocking God!Now this is where the fun begins. ASUS has for the past three years seen the light of the overclockers market, partly because they wanted to increase their shares, but mostly to nock ABIT out of the top enthusiast motherboard manufacturers spot, and in my honest opinion have managed to do that. ASUS uses an Award BIOS 6.0, however, the layout is almost unique to ASUS, only Albatron and Intel Desktop boards use the menu system rather than the old blue interface. To find the overclocking features you need to select the advanced tab from the top menu, from there it's pretty simple to find the functions you want. The Jumperfree section is where all the overclocking settings are available for your selection. ASUS, like Gigabyte and MSI now incorporates an automatic overclocking system. MSI calls it Core Cell, Gigabytes is CPU Intelligent Overclocking and ASUS calls it AI Overclock. Under the Jumperfree menu is the AI Overclocking feature which has four settings - Auto (Default), Overclock Profile, AI N.O.S and Manual. Overclock profile sets a determined FSB and memory ratio, which stays at that speed no matter what. AI N.O.S works on system usage. You can adjust from 5% up to 15% overclock ratio. When the system status reaches 100% CPU usage for a certain amount of time, the FSB, Memory and CPU voltages are raised incrementally until they hit the % that is set. Manual setting releases all the overclocking options to the user to adjust at their own free will.First setting is the System Clock mode. This can be set from Auto, Linked or Manual. On auto you simply overclock the FSB from 100MHz up to 400MHz in 1MHz increments. When set to linked, the memory is overclocked at the same rate as the FSB depending on the divider used. In manual mode, you can raise the FSB without clocking the memory, and overclock the memory without clocking the FSB. DRAM selection in this setting is from 200MHz up to 1600MHz DDR (though the latter is a very unrealistic setting, but how knows in a few more months what memory may arrive).PCI Express Frequency allows you to select what speed you want your PCI Express clock to run at. Settings are from 100MHz up to 148MHz in 0.025MHz increments. PCI Express is very sensitive to clocks above 100MHz; in fact PCI-E slots begin to show instability at even 105MHz - leaving it at 100MHz is the best option. The Voltage options that ASUS give you are simply amazing. In all there are 5 separate voltages. The most important are the first two - CPU and memory. CPU voltages can be adjusted from 1.0v up to 1.7v in 0.025v increments. Memory voltage is selectable from 18.v up to 2.4v in 0.1v increments.FSB termination voltage controls the voltage that is used on the CPU to Northbridge link; this is very helpful for extreme FSB overclocking. Settings are from 1.215v up to a maximum of 1.415v in 0.015v increments. Northbridge voltage is used to stabilise the Northbridge when overclocking the FSB, Memory and Hyper Transport links. Setting range is from 1.4v to 1.6v in 0.1v increments. Southbridge voltage is used to stabilise the SATA, PCI and Hyper Transport links when the system is in extreme overclocking setups voltage range is from 1.4v to 1.6v.ASUS also provides a sub menu called performance options. In here you can control the EMI Spread Spectrum settings for SATA, NB/SB Strap, DRAM and a few other tweaks. The most interesting one is the Hyper Transport link speed; you can adjust the width and the speed of the Northbridge to Southbridge Link. You can set the Uplink to either 8 or 16 bits and set the speed to 600, 800 or 1000MHz. the Downlink options are the same, and can be set independent from the Uplink speed, though why you would want to change them considering that 16 bit at 1000Mhz would be the best option, and they are totally asynchronous from the system clocks, meaning they don't change when the FSB changes, unlike AMD Athlon 64 CPU's.With all these features you would expect us to get a good amount of overclocking out of this board, you are not wrong here. We raised the CPU voltage to 1.5v, Memory to 2.2v, FSB term voltage to max, NB and SB voltages at 1.5v, PCI Express locked to 100, Hyper Transport links at 1000MHz and 16bit connection we managed to hit a FSB of over 361MHz - a record for any Intel Pentium 4 board we have tested so far. We also kept the memory locked at 800MHz DDR to eliminate any memory limitations which is easy through the asynchronous nature of the nVidia chipset.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SandraTest System SetupProcessor: Intel Pentium D 840 (800MHz FSB) (Supplied by Intel)Memory: 2x 1GB Corsair DDR2-800Hard Disk: 2x Seagate 7200.9 (RAID 0) (Supplied by Seagate)Graphics Card: ATI Radeon X800XT Platinum (Supplied by ASUS)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP2Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.12 and DX9cWe've compared the new ASUS P5N32-SLI against the ASUS P5WD2 which is based on the Intel 955X chipset. Both boards have a stunning feature-set, but which offers the best performance?Let's find out!SiSoft SandraVersion and / or Patch Used: 2005 SR3aDeveloper Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.ukProduct Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=enBuy It Here
Benchmarks - PCMarkPCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - 3DMark Series3DMark03Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - Doom 3Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Half Life 2Half Life 2Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Battlefield 2Battlefield 2Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Guru3D DemoDeveloper Homepage: http://global.dice.se/Product Homepage: http://www.eagames.com/official/battlefield/battlefield2/us/home.jspBuy It Here
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsIt is clear that nVidia has made its presence known, and it is definitely good to see companies like ASUS taking the road that nVidia has laid out for them, and then some.ASUS's implementation of the nForce 4 SLI x16 Intel Edition has shown us that it is not only 100% stable, but also packed full of features along with a great overclocking - anyway you look at it, you are putting your money into a great motherboard.With the overclocking results we achieved along with the software and hardware pack included, its hard to consider any other motherboard than the ASUS P5N32-SLI for the Intel Pentium 4 platform and performance users.- ProsFastDual PCI Express x16 portsNo SLI selectors neededDual SATA controllersDual Gigabit LANFirewireFantastic Overclocking!- ConsRather pricey- Latest PricingRating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editors Choice Award
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