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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Thursday, May 11, 2006
ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe


1. Introduction

We received from ASUS, their first NVIDIA nForce™4 SLI X16 motherboard for AMD Socket 939 processors, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe. The previous models from ASUS for AMD CPUs, limited the PCI-E to 8X when two VGA cards were installed. However, this motherboard supports dual PCI Express at 16X.

- Features

The innovative AMD solution brings you enjoyable gaming experience.
The A8N32-SLI Deluxe supports dual PCI Express x16 slots running at full speed to liberate graphics cards from the narrow bandwidth platform of x8 speed only. It not only inherited AI Life series features, such as Stack Cool 2 and SATA on the Go, but also some new innovations, including 8-Phase Power Design and Fanless Design. With ASUS' innovative designs to bring out the real potential of NVIDIA nForce™4 SLI X16 chipsets, gamers can easily enjoy faster graphics performance and higher video quality today, and be ready for the even more demanding tasks of tomorrow!


Corsair XMS-3500LL PRO Ready
The new XMS-3500LL PRO is the industry's first high-density memory that delivers blazing performance at CL2-1T low latency. Available in a matched pair of 1GB modules, it is shipped with SPD programmed at 2-3-2 -6-1T for the AMD platform. The A8N32-SLI Deluxe and the memory are optimized for each other to reach maximum performance, and are validated for stability and compatibility.

- Unique Features

AI Life
AI Life Series - Gaming Edition motherboards bring lifestyle and personal computing together. This motherboard provides you better system performance to enjoy graphics-intensive games and applications. To create a peaceful environment, several new and improved innovations are also included to reduce noise and temperature. Don't change your way of life for a computer. Instead let the ASUS Life Series improve the quality of your life.
True Dual X16 SLI
True Dual X16 SLI - The ultimate enthusiast platform
The A8N32-SLI Deluxe supports dual PCI Express x16 slots running at full speed to liberate graphics cards from the narrow bandwidth platform of x8 speed only. With ASUS' innovative designs to bring out the real potential of NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 chipsets, gamers can easily enjoy faster graphics performance and higher video quality today, and be ready for the even more demanding tasks of tomorrow!

8 Phase Power Design
- Cooler and quieter system
- Longer components lifespan
- More stable and reliable under heavy-loading and overclocking
The ASUS 8-Phase Power Design provides highly efficient operation to generate less heat (at least 15°C (36°F)) than other conventional power solutions. It reduces input ripple current and output ripple voltage, which keeps CPU and power module from suffering the risk of high power stress. It has the advantages of quick transient response and stability, especially beneficial when CPU requires more current immediately under heavy loading or overclocking mode.

Fanless Design - Heat Pipe & Stack Cool 2
- Complete quiet cooling
- Zero failure
- Excellent heat dissipation
The Heat Pipe design effectively directs the heat generated by the chipsets to the heatsink near the back IO ports, where it can be carried away by existing airflow from CPU fan. ASUS STACK COOL 2 effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board). The purpose of the innovative fanless designs is to decrease the number of fans and therefore reducing the noise from the system. Furthermore, the groundbreaking fanless designs do not have lifetime problems as a fan does. To guarantee excellent thermal performance, ASUS adopts copper heat pipes and copper pads for the chipsets. These fanless designs are the most reliable fanless thermal solutions to date

Optional Fan (for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only)
Maximize performance and minimize noise!
The optional fan is specifically designed to provide sufficient airflow over the CPU power modules and chipset area when water-cooling or passive-cooling is utilized, ensuring effective heat dissipation for the entire system.

- CPU Features

Supports AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64 X2
This motherboard supports AMD 939-pin Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core processor with 1MBx2 or 512KBx2 L2 cache which is based on 64-bit architecture. It features better multithreaded / multitasking performance than Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64.
Supports AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64
This motherboard supports AMD 939-pin Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 processors with 1MB / 512KB L2 cache which is based on 64-bit architecture. It features 2000 / 1600 MT/s HyperTransport Bus, dual-channel un-buffered DDR400 memory support and AMD Cool 'n' Quiet! Technology.

Dual-Core CPU
Enjoy the extraordinary CPU power from the latest dual-core CPU.
The advanced processing technology contains two physical CPU cores with individually dedicated L2 Caches to satisfy the rising demand for more powerful processing capability.
64-bit CPU support
64-bit computing, the next generation technology to replace current 32-bit architecture, delivers advanced system performance, faster memory access and increased productivity. This motherboard provides excellent compatibility and flexibility by supporting either 64-bit or 32-bit architecture.

- Maximizing Gaming Performance

Precision Tweaker
Designed for serious overclockers

It offers ways to raise system performance inch-by-inch and step-by-step to achieve maximum performance! This is about getting the most out of your machine, and taking pride in your customized computer.
vDIMM -
Take control of how much power is going into the memory modules. ASUS gives you 8-step voltage control to the DIMM
vCore -
Find out "exactly" how much power your CPU needs. Fine-tune it with 0.0125 volts at a time!
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) allows
- FSB tuning from 133MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1200MHz at 1MHz increment
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 150MHz at 1MHz increment
AI NOS™
Applications such as 3D games and video editing demand a huge chunk of system resource.
Inject "nitrous oxide" into your CPU! The patented AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System) technology intelligently detects system load and automatically boosts performance for the most demanding tasks. Unlike other dynamic overclocking techniques, AI NOS™ reacts much faster to satisfy your unending need for speeds.
PEG Link for dual VGA cards
Automatically gaming performance tuning for single/dual graphics cards
This latest technology, PEG (PCI Express Graphics) Link Mode, is a unique feature that enables users to boost graphics card performance for superior video quality.
PEG Link allows users to raise GPU and VGA memory throughput via the motherboard BIOS the same way system bus and memory bus are tweaked. PEG Link Mode enables powerful video performance on DX8 and DX9 applications. ASUS engineers carefully fine-tuned the parameters for every single PCI-Express card to provide system stability during high-speed graphics operation.
AI Clock Skew
AI Clock Skew optimizes this motherboard's memory overclocking capability and provides users the fastest computing speed possible. When users overclock memory frequency, AI Clock Skew automatically skews the memory clock signal timing, thus improving memory overclocking capability by 10 to 15%, depending on the memory features. AI Clock Skew also allows users to separately adjust each memory channel's clock signal to reach the highest memory frequency.
C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
When the system hangs due to overclocking failure, there is no need to open the case to clear CMOS data. Just simply restart the system, the BIOS would show the previous setting and then users can amend the CPU setting again.

- Acoustic Features

AMD Cool 'n' Quiet! Technology
Supports AMD Cool 'n' Quiet! Technology, which monitors system operation and automatically adjusts CPU voltage and frequency for a cool and quiet environment.
ASUS Q-Fan 2
ASUS Q-Fan2 technology intelligently adjusts both CPU fan and chassis fan speeds according to system loading to ensure quiet, cool and efficient operation.

- Network features

Dual Gigabit LAN
The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency.
NV Firewall
NV ActiveArmor enhances network security while delivers the highest system performance by offloading CPU-intensive packet filtering tasks in hardware. NV Firewall provides professional-grade traffic inspection capabilities, instant on protection, advanced management features and is easy to use and setup via a user friendly wizard.

- Interface Features

PCI Express Architecture
PCI Express is the latest I/O interconnect technology that will replace the existing PCI. With a bus bandwidth 4 times higher than that of AGP 8X interface, PCI Express x16 bus performs much better than AGP 8X in applications such as 3D gaming. PCI Express x1 and x4 also outperforms PCI interface with its exceptional high bandwidth. The high speed PCI Express interface creates new usages on desktop PCs e.g., Gigabit LAN, 1394b, and high-speed RAID systems.
Serial ATA 3Gb/s
The motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves.
SATA on the Go
The motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves. The external SATA port located at the back I/O provides smart setup and hot-plug functions. Easily backup photos, videos and other entertainment contents on external devices.
Dual RAID
The nForce4 chipset incorporated four Serial ATA connectors with high performance RAID functions in RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD. The Silicon Image controller provides another two Serial ATA connectors for RAID 0 and 1 functions. This motherboard is the ideal solution to enhance hard disk performance and data back up protection without the cost of add-on cards.
IEEE 1394a interface
IEEE 1394a interface provides high speed digital interface for audio/video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.
S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port
This motherboard provides convenient connectivity to external home theater audio systems via an coaxial S/PDIF-out (SONY-PHILIPS Digital Interface) jack. It allows to transfer digital audio without converting to analog format and keeps the best signal quality.
Max. 10 USB 2.0 ports
USB 2.0 is the latest connectivity standard for next generation components and peripherals. Backwards compatible with current USB 1.1 peripherals, USB 2.0 delivers transfer speeds up to 40 times faster at 480Mb/s, for easy connectivity and ultra-fast data transfers.

- BIOS Features

Multi-language BIOS
The multi-language BIOS allows you to select the language of your choice from the available options. The localized BIOS setup menu helps you configure your system easier and faster.
ASUS CrashFree BIOS2
The CrashFree BIOS2 feature now includes the BIOS auto-recovery function in a support CD. Users can reboot their system through the support CD when a bootable disk is not available and go through the simple BIOS auto-recovery process. ASUS motherboards now enable users to enjoy this protection feature without the need to pay for an optional ROM.
ASUS EZ Flash
With ASUS EZ Flash, you can update BIOS before entering operating system. No more DOS-based flash utility and bootable diskette required.
ASUS MyLogo2
You can convert your favorite photo into a 256-color boot logo for a more colorful and vivid image on your screen.

- Bundled

WinDVD Suite
ASUS, consolidating its role as a leader in the IT industry, now bundles the versatile InterVideo WinDVD Suite. This multifaceted software set, includes the latest multimedia software, bringing to the fore the multimedia features of ASUS motherboards! (OEM version).

You can see the specifications in the table below:

CPU Socket 939 for AMD® Athlon™ 64 FX / Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 / Sempron™ processor
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
* Refer to www.asus.com for AMD CPU support list
Chipset NVIDIA nForce™4 SLI X16 (NVIDIA nForce SPP 100 / NVIDIA nForce4 SLI)
Front Side Bus 2000 / 1600 MT/s
Memory Dual channel memory architecture
4 x DIMM, max. 4GB, DDR 400 / 333 / 266, ECC, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for "Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List)
Expansion Slots 2 x PCI-E x16 with SLI™ support at full x16, x16 mode
1 x PCI-E x4 (Support PCI-E x4 or PCI-E x1 card)
3 x PCI 2.2
SLI Support two identical SLI-ready graphics cards (both x16 mode)
ASUS EZ Plug
ASUS two-slot thermal design
ASUS Soft SLI Bridge
ASUS PEG Link for dual PCI Express graphics cards
Storage/RAID NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 Southbridge supports
- 2 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 33
- 4 x Serial ATA 3 Gb/s
- NV RAID: RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD on Serial ATA drives
Silicon Image 3132 SATA controller supports
- 1 x Internal Serial ATA 3 Gb/s hard disk
- 1 x External Serial ATA hard disk (SATA On-the-Go)
- Support RAID 0, 1
LAN Dual Gigabit LAN
Marvell® 88E8053 PCI-E Gigabit LAN controller
NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 Southbridge built-in Gigabit MAC with external Marvell 88E1111 PHY supports:
- NV Firewall
- NV RIS (Remote Installation Service)
- NV ActiveArmor
- AI NET
Audio Realtek® ALC850 8-channel CODEC
Universal Audio Jack
Audio Sensing and Enumeration Technology
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports on back I/O
IEEE 1394 TI® 1394a controller supports:
- 2 x IEEE 1394a connectors at midboard
ASUS AI Life Features Stack Cool 2
SATA on the Go (External SATA on back I/O port)
Overclocking Features Intelligent overclocking tools:
- AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS PEG Link - Automatically performance tuning for single/dual graphics cards
Precision Tweaker:
- vDIMM: 8-step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 400MHz up to 800MHz
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection:
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features ASUS 8-Phase Power Design
ASUS Fanless Design
ASUS AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
ASUS AI NET2
ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS MyLogo2
ASUS Q-Fan2
BIOS 8 Mb Flash ROM, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash, ASUS CrashFree BIOS2
Back Panel I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x Parallel
1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
1 x External SATA
2 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x Wireless LAN antenna jack
1 x Wireless LAN activity LED
8-Channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors 6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
2 x IDE connector
5 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU / 2 x Chassis / 2 x Chipset / 1 x Power Fan connectors
1 x GAME / MIDI connector
2 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x COM connector
Front panel audio connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD / AUX audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
4-pin EZ Plug power connector
Accessories SLI bridge connector
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
IDE cable
FDD cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
USB2.0 / Game port module
COM port module
IEEE1394 port module
I/O Shield
InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
User's manual
Optional Fan (for Water-Cooling or Passive-Cooling only)
Support CD Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
NV RIS (Remote Installation Service) application
NV Firewall
NV RAID
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor, 12”x 9.6” (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. A Closer Look

The A8N32-SLI Deluxe, as with most of the latest ASUS Deluxe motherboards, is manufactured on a black Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The interface connections are laid out so as to make them easily accessible and the colour coding helps in identifying them.

Below is the 939 socket for the AMD64 CPU.

The STACK COOL 2 logo located on the underside of the board, indicates that the A8N32-SLI Deluxe has a fan-less, zero-noise cooling solution, providing effective heat transfer away from critical components.

The A8N32-SLI Deluxe, is equipped with two PCI Express x16 slots, used primarily for nVidia graphics cards, and three PCI slots. The two PCI Express x16 slots are colour coded. In SLI mode, the user should always remember that the primary graphics card must be installed in the blue PCI-E slot. The secondary card (black slot), is used only for graphics acceleration. Both slots remain at 16X even in SLI mode.

The memory module slots are also colour coded. Simply install two memory modules of the same memory size in the same coloured slots, to enable Dual Channel's symmetry mode support, or use two memory modules of different memory sizes for asymmetric mode.

The primary IDE connector is located on the edge of the board.

Below are the four SATA connectors for installing HDDs or CD/DVDs.

This connector is for a Serial ATA signal cable. It supports a Serial ATA HDD drive that you can combine with an external Serial ATA 3 Gb/s device to configure a RAID 0 or RAID 1 set through the onboard Silicon Image SATA RAID controller.

There are also additional USB and Firewire IEEE 1394 connections on the motherboard:

There are also some extra connectors for the serial COM or GAME/MIDI ports.

The ATX power connectors:

For supplying any extra fans, ASUS has equipped the mobo with six fan power connectors:

Rear panel connectors:

- The package

The retail package for the A8N32-SLI Deluxe includes a large list of accessories:

Accessories InterVideo WinDVD Suite (OEM version)
1 x SLI connector
1 x IEEE1394 port module
4 x SATA cables
SATA power cables for 4 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 / Game module
1 x COM Port module
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x IDE cable
1 x FDD cable
2 x Option Fan
1 x I/O Shield
User' s manual
Support CD Drivers
ASUS PC Probe 2
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
NVIDIA® NVFirwall
NVIDIA® RAID
Anti-virus software (OEM version)

 

The picture above shows the SLI bridge.

For this review, we populated the ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard with two ASUS Extreme N6600GT graphics cards and compared it with the ABIT AN8 32X. Both motherboards support dual 16X SLI, which liberates the graphics cards from the limited bandwidth of 8X speed.


3. Test System - Configuration


Benchmarking Software
3DMark05,03,01
PCMark04, 05
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
AquaMark3 v3.0
Performance Test V5.0
Half Life 2
Doom 3
F.E.A.R
Need For Speed - Most Wanted


4. 3DMark2005

With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark.

3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version making the most of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.
Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.

Game Test 1 -Return to Proxycon

Click to enlargeBeing the sequel to the "Battle of Proxycon" from 3DMark03, in "Return to Proxycon" we're once again set in space and the battle continues as space pirates invade a cargo ship in order to take control of its valuable cargo.

This test, tries to simulate a future first-person shooter game with all the high details that entails. The dynamic shadows, high-detailed environment and advanced lighting techniques ensure that under normal circumstances, no recent card can run it with decent frame rates.

Game Test 2 - Firefly Forest

Click to enlargeA forest gets filled with magic fireflies in the night. The moon is nearly full, illuminating the forest with a bluish faint light. The magic fireflies have flickering bright green lights that playfully move around the forest.

This scene is a nice example of a smaller scale outdoor scene with rich vegetation. Immediate visibility is not so far, and there is a skybox surrounding the whole scene.

A large number of trees with their branches swinging separately, and dense vegetation being dynamically distributed according to the camera movements, make this test the most demanding of the three.

Game Test 3 - Canyon Flight

Click to enlargeA Jules Verne type airship flies through a canyon guarded by a dangerous sea monster. The airmen defend their ship using heavy cannons, but these seem to have no effect on the huge sea monster. Finally the crew manages a narrow escape using the "last resort" afterburners of the airship.

This scene is fairly complex with large areas of water reflecting the high canyon walls. The water actually is one of the key points of interest in this scene. The water not only does realistic looking reflections and refractions, it has a depth fog, making the sea monster swimming under the airship actually look deep down in the water. The air in this scene also uses a volumetric fog, making distant cliffs of the canyon really look far away.

In GT1 and GT2, the Asus A8N32 motherboard reports lower framerates than the ABIT, while in GT3 it produced higher framerate.

Final Score

 3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:

(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250

This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.

A slightly better 3DMark05 score is achieved by the ABIT AN8 32X in comparison to the ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe motherboard.


5. 3DMark2003

3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.

3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

Once again, no significant differences were reported between the two mobos. However, the framerates were generally higher with the ABIT.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.

And again, higher score from the ABIT motherboard, with the ASUS close behind.


6. Codecreatures

CodeCreatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.

The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.

Similar framerates from both the A8N32 SLI and AN8 32X motherboards in the CodeCreatures benchmark.

-Codecreatures number

The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process and is basically the geometric mean of the three frame rates multiplied by 100.

Higher overall score for the ABIT motherboard.


7. Aquamark - 3DMark01

Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.

 

Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.

The ABIT 32X once again reported better results.

3DMark 2001

3DMark 2001 is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.

And again, ABIT has a higher overall score.


8. Half Life 2

Half life 2 is without doubt the most anticipated PC game of all times.

Characters - Advanced facial animation system delivers the most sophisticated in-game characters ever seen. With 40 distinct facial "muscles," human characters convey the full array of human emotion, and respond to the player with fluidity and intelligence.

Physics - From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy.

Graphics - Source's shader-based renderer, like the one used at Pixar to create movies such as Toy Story® and Monster's, Inc.®, creates the most beautiful and realistic environments ever seen in a video game.

AI - Neither friends nor enemies charge blindly into the fray. They can assess threats, navigate tricky terrain, and fashion weapons from whatever is at hand.

To measure performance, we used the Video Stress Test (VST) that is available in the CounterStrike:Source beta available through Steam. We set all the details to the highest level and each time changed the resolution from 800x600 up to 1600x1200.

The Half Life 2 Video Stress Test confirms the results we saw in the foregoing benchmarks. Here, in all cases, with or without the AA and AF, the ABIT motherboard produced higher framerates.


9. Quake 4

In a desperate war for Earth's survival, against an unrelenting alien enemy, the only way to defeat them is to become one of them. Armed with advanced weaponry and vehicles and aided by an elite squad of marines, you take the battle to the heart of the Strogg home planet and become Earth's only hope for victory.

Quake 4 is a First Person Shooter developed by Ravensoft, based on the Doom 3 engine, and the graphics and gameplay certainly reflect that fact. For those who really hated the one-way corridors of Doom 3, new outdoor areas have been added to the game. The feeling however, still remains the same as these areas are quite small-scale, contrary to what other games have to offer.

 

- Benchmark Settings

As Quake 4 includes no default benchmark, we decided to go with another publicly available demo to measure performance. What we chose is a demo from HWSpirit, which involves a small outdoor scene followed by a long indoor combat. As preloading the stage once again failed miserably and the average framerate varied a lot, we ran it twice every time we restarted the game and measured only the second run.

The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance with and without Anti-aliasing.

In Quake4, the differences between the mobos aren't significant with AA and AF enabled. However, when we disabled AA and AF, the ABIT motherboard produced noticeably higher framerates than the ASUS.


10. F.E.A.R.

You aren't a soldier. You are a weapon. A paramilitary force infiltrates a multi billion dollar aerospace compound taking hostages, but issuing no demands.

The government responds by sending in its best special operations teams, only to have them obliterated. Live footage of the massacre is cut short by an unexpected wave of destruction that leaves military leaders stunned and in disbelief.

First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) is one of the new-generation FPS. The graphics are really stunning, the plot behind the whole shooting successfully keeps it interesting and even the A.I. seems to work out well.

F.E.A.R. offers a lot to the First Person Shooter world. The graphics are very clear with excellent textures, great new effects that will stress your graphics card and ragdoll physics that are waiting to be exploited as you progress through the game.

- Benchmark Settings

F.E.A.R. allows you test the video settings on a mini-benchmark involving a lot of weapon firing, explosions and several other effects. After the benchmark is run, you're presented with a screen showing your minimum, average and maximum framerates and also percentages of how often the framerate was below 25fps, between 25 and 40, and finally above 40. For this presentation, we're just sticking to the minimum and average framerates.

The resolutions we used were 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x960 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at high and highest details.

With High Settings in F.E.A.R., the ASUS motherboard performed better than its ABIT counterpart, producing higher average and minimum fps, except for 800x600 resolution.

With the Maximum settings enabled, the ASUS motherboards clears up its position, producing significantly higher minimum and average fps.


11. Need For Speed - Most Wanted

Wake up to the smell of burnt asphalt as the thrill of illicit street racing permeates the air.

Combining illicit street racing and tuner customization with the intensity of strategic police pursuit that surpasses any Hollywood-style chase scene, Need for Speed Most Wanted will be on every gamer's 'must-have' list this holiday season. Out-race rivals, evade cops and exploit hundreds of miles of open road as gamers make their way up the Blacklist.

To become the most wanted racer, players must build up their street cred and Rap Sheet with gripping, white knuckle, head-to-head races with the top drivers on the streets, as well as pull daring, evasive moves to out-run and out-fox the cops that patrol the open road. Players can manage their heat or utilize a number of strategic tactics to keep the cops off their tails as they leave their rivals behind to suck their exhaust fumes.

- Benchmark Settings

NFS Most Wanted includes no default benchmark. To measure the card's performance, we've chosen to record the framerate at the start of a circuit race with end-game cars. The starting point tends to be one of the most graphically demanding parts because of the smoke coming from spinning wheels added to the rest of the game's visual effects. If a card can pass this step with an acceptable framerate it is guaranteed that it will face no problem with the rest of the game.

The resolutions we used are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. We measured performance at the lowest and highest possible settings.

The ABIT motherboard once again takes the lead, but the differences between the two is not significant.


12. Performance Test v5.0

The suite of the PassMark Performance Test contains a number of suites with different tests to measure different aspects of a computer system.

The "PassMark rating" is a weighted average of all the other test results and gives a single overall indication of the computers performance. The bigger the number, the faster the computer. The "PassMark rating" can only be calculated if the results from all other tests are available. The value is calculated as follows.

Test Suite Weighting
Disk 20%
CD / DVD 9%
Memory 18%
3D Graphics 12%
2D Graphics 14%
CPU 27%
Total 100%

According to the PassMark Performance test, the ABIT AN8 32X motherboard is a better overall performer than the ASUS A8N32.


13. PCMark04 - 05

PCMark04 and 05 are application-based benchmarks and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark05 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark05 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.

Both PCMark04 and PCMark05 include 5 categorized suites for benchmarking your computer. These include System, CPU, Graphics, Memory and a Hard Disk Drive benchmark. In our case, we selected the system test suite which integrates tests included in the other categories.

Both PC Mark04 and 05 awarded a higher score to the ABIT AN8 32X motherboard. The same PC components seem to perform better on this NForce4 SLI 16X based motherboard.


14. Overclocking

You can increase your Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard's system performance with the AiBooster utility, bundled in the software package. The default FSB for the AMD64 3500+ is 2200Mhz.

The maximum overclocking speed we managed to achieve was 2700MHz with the FSB running at 299MHz. We tried this both with AiBooster and through the BIOS. At higher speeds, we saw the blue screen of death, or the system failed to boot.


15. Bios - Page 1


ASUS Logo


BIOS Main Screen



Motherboard Temperature and Voltage Monitor


16. Bios - Page 2

The BIOS selections for advanced use, including overclocking:

You can choose between Auto or Manual overclocking, or select an existing OC profile.

Set the FSB speed.


17. Software CD

The Software CD included in the retail package, installs Drivers, Utilities, etc, as shown in the following screenshots:


Drivers


Utilities

ASUS Update is a very helpful utility which helps locate the appropriate firmware revision for the motherboard and then flashes it automatically.

We highly recommend that you download the new BIOS manually from the internet first, and then proceed with the flash procedure.


18. PC Probe II

We highly recommend you install this software. It will provide you with helpful information about your system.

ASUS has upgraded its PC Probe utility, providing a more impressive layout.

If something isn't within specs or isn't working properly, the right panel lights up red.

Voltage, temperatures and fan speeds are some of the parameters you can monitor.

You can also monitor the HD and RAM conditions as well as CPU Usage.


19. AiBooster

AIBooster is a convenient utility to help overclock your system. There is no need to delve into the BIOS with this utility, although we believe that the BIOS is still the safest way to go.

You can select from pre-defined overclocking profiles, the same as those available in the BIOS.

Or you can manually adjust the settings by changing the CPU or Memory Voltage as well as the FSB speed.

.

After any changes, you'll have to restart your system. You'll be informed with the appropriate message.


20. Conclusion

The A8N32-SLI Deluxe is certainly going to be on most gamers list of preferred motherboards. Dual X16 PCI-Express SLI support, high games performance and a full retail package with all required cables, manuals, drivers, applications and extra fans make this a very attractive package. Taking a closer look at the the black colored PCB, you will notice that it is of quality construction, incorporating the Stack Cool 2 technology for transferring generated heat away from critical components. The board is also equipped with dual Gigabit LAN, HD-AUDIO, SATA RAID, Dual Channel, N.O.S., which are just some from the long list of features for this motherboard. The only thing that is missing is on-board WiFi and IDE RAID.

When we compared the performance of the A8N32-SLI Deluxe against the ABIT AN8 32X, we saw slightly better performance from the ABIT. In games for example, the difference between the two was in most case no more than a few frames, while in most of the benchmarks, the ABIT motherboard was consistently awarded higher overall scores. Nevertheless, the difference between them isn't significant.

At the time of this review, the A8N32-SLI Deluxe cost US$197 from newegg.com, placing it among the more expensive boards. However, we think it is worth every last cent.

Pros:

Cons:

Like to be fixed

Features
Performance
BIOS/Overclocking
Value for money

 



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