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Appeared on: Thursday, July 26, 2007
Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus


1. Introduction

- Introduction

The nVidia 680i chipset was very successful with motherboards like the Asus Striker Extreme, which made a huge impact on users. However, there was a "minor" problem. The retail price of the board was very high, since the Nvidia chipset is very expensive. Asus engineers have managed what seems the impossible, in making an Nvidia based motherboard which combines two different chipsets, the Nvidia 650i SLI and Nvidia 570i SLI! The result is the "P5N32-E SLI Plus" and should be able to offer what 680i based motherboards offer, but at a reduced retail price. Let's take a good look at this ingenious motherboard.

- Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus

The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus is based on Nvidia's 650i & 570i SLI chipsets, supporting Intel® Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4/Celeron® D Processors and Intel® Quad-core CPU processors for Socket (LGA775). It features 1333/1066/800/533MHz(FSB), dual-channel un-buffered DDR2 800/667/533 x 4DIMMs at a maximum of 8GB.

- Main features

The P5N32-E SLI Plus is the best Quad-SLI™ ready motherboard with excellent gaming performance. But what we care about is not just performance, it's also about realistic. Extreme HD gaming with the highest resolution that feels like the enemy jumps out of the screen, the supreme audio with a stand-alone card-SupremeFX, induces a better Signal-to-Noise Ratio, features with DTS surround sound, sounds like the enemy is just around. The unique 3 PCIex16 slot, reserved one additional slot for GPU Physics card when running Quad-SLI™, the experience can't be more real. This board is also of AI Lifestyle descent, while quiet thermal solutions increase the stability and reliability when running resource demanding games or applications, EZ DIY features enhance the DIY experience and make PC much more interesting.

The main features are:

- Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
- Intel® Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo Ready
- NVIDIA® Dual X16 SLI 
- ASUS HybridUp Technology
- NVIDIA Quad-SLI™ Ready
- Dual-channel DDR2 800/667/533
- 1333/1066/800/533MHz
- SupremeFX/DTS connect
- Stack Cool2 and Heat-pipe Thermal Solution
- 8 Phase Power Design

LGA775 Intel® Quad-core Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Quad-core and Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It's excellent for multi-tasking, multi-media and enthusiastic gamers with 1066/800 MHz FSB. Intel® Quad-core is one of the most powerful CPU in the world

NVIDIA® Dual x16 SLI(C55/MCP55P)
The NVIDIA® Dual x16 SLI chipsets(C55/MCP55P) supports the NVIDIA® Scalable Link Interface (SLI™) technology that allows two graphics processing units (GPUs) in a single system. It's designed for enthusiast gamers, extreme overclocking capability, ultimate gaming performance with SLI technology support. It's definitely one of the fastest platform in the world.

NVIDIA SLI™ Technology
NVIDIA SLI™ (Scalable Link Interface) takes advantage of the increased bandwidth of the PCI Express bus architecture and features intelligent hardware and software that allows two GPUs to efficiently work together to deliver earth-shattering, scalable performance. For some applications nearly 2X performance!

Dual-Channel DDR2 800
DDR2 is the next generation memory technology to replace the current DDR. With the highest speed up to 800MHz,DDR2 memory provides great performance for 3D graphics and other memory demanding applications.


ASUS HybridUp Technology
ASUS HybridUp technology creates new combination of chipsets to deliver best value to users. With NVIDIA dual PCI Express x 16 SLI support, and great overclocking capability, this motherboard fits the need of enthusiasts in all aspects.

Advanced Thermal Design
ASUS has devoted special efforts to address the thermal issues across the motherboard, and most notably the areas that reside the CPU, power, Northbridge and Southbridge.


Stack Cool 2
Stack Cool 2 is a fan-less and zero-noise cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation.

8 Phase Power Design
ASUS 8-Phase Power Design keeps CPU and power module away from suffering risk of high power stress, which makes CPU lifetime much longer and system more stable. Furthermore, It provides high efficiency operation to generate less heat than conventional power solutions and consequently achieve cool system environment. With this strong power pump, this motherboard is made for overclocking.

Fanless Design: Heat-pipe Thermal solution
Cooling fans, though a popular thermal solution, also come with noise and malfunction likelihood. ASUS Motherboard's fanless concept is specifically created to provide a cool environment without all the baggage. The heat pipe, heat sinks and strategic board layout were tailor made to dissipate heat in the most efficient manner.


ASUS Q-Connector
The ASUS Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.

ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2
The CrashFree BIOS2 feature now includes the BIOS auto-recovery function in a support DVD. Users can reboot their system through the support DVD 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 2
EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.

ASUS MyLogo3
Personalize your system with customizable boot logo. The ASUS MyLogo 3 is the new feature present in the motherboard that allows you to personalize and add style to your system with customizable and animated boot logos.

SupremeFX (ADI 1988b)
The SupremeFX audio card is designed to provide you the best game sound experience. With 24bit/192kHz full sampling in all surround channels, no matter if you're hearing your game through headphones or 7.1 surround speakers, we'll deliver the effects loud and clear!

DTS Connect™
This feature is consists of two elements: DTS interactive and DTS NEO:PC. DTS interactive re-encodes your stereo or multi-channel sound into a DTS audio signal and send it out from your PC to any DTS enabled system. While DTS NEO:PC turns your stereo audio such as MP3, WMA, CD, and other sound format into a convincing multi-channel audio experience.

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.
ASUS O.C. Profile
The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.
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.

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.


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

High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors!
This motherboard uses all high-quality conductive polymer capacitors onboard for durability, improved life span, and enhanced thermal capacity.

Music Alarm
Wake up to the music of your choice instead of the irritating sound of an alarm clock. The ASUS Music Alarm gives you a personal wake-up call with your favorite CD music when system is off.

- Full specifications

CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4/Celeron® D Processors
Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
Compatible with Intel® 06/05B/05A processors
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset
NVIDIA® Dual X16 SLI
(C55+MCP55P; a.k.a. nForce®650i SLI & nForce®570 SLI)
ASUS HybridUp Technology
* Support SLI-Ready Memory Technology
Front Side Bus

1333**/1066/800/533 MHz
** available when CPUs are ready for 1333MHz FSB

Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2-800/667/533, non-ECC, unbuffered memory
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List)
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express x16 slot, support NVIDIA® SLI™ technology, at full x16, x16 speed (blue)
1 x PCI Express x16, at x8 speed (white)
1 x PCI Express x1
2 x PCI 2.2
Scalable Link Interface (SLI™)
Support two identical NVIDIA SLI-Ready graphics cards (both at x16 mode)
Storage
South bridge supports:
 - 1 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33
 - 6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
 - NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD span cross Serial ATA drives
LAN
NVIDIA® Dual X16 SLI built-in dual Gigabit MAC with external Marvell PHY
Support NVIDIA DualNet® technology
High Definition Audio
SupremeFX Audio Card
 - ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
 - Support Jack-Sensing, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking
Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out
DTS® Connect
IEEE 1394a
VIA6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a ports
USB
Max. 10 USB2.0/1.1 ports(6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
Overclocking Features
Intelligent overclocking tools:
 - AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
 - AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
 - ASUS AI Booster Utility
 - O.C. Profile
Overclocking Protection:
 - ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features

ASUS EZ DIY: 
 - Q-Connector
 - ASUS CrashFree BIOS2
 - ASUS EZ Flash2
ASUS Music Alarm
ASUS MyLogo3
ASUS Q-Fan 2
Uses 100% High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors

Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
1 x PS/2 Mouse port(green)
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
2 x LAN (RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE1394a port
Internal I/O Connectors

3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector for two devices
6 x SATA connectors
8 x Fan connector: 1 x CPU / 1 x Power Fan / 1 x Chassis / 5 x Optional
1 x Front Panel Audio connector (on SupremeFX audio card)
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF output connector
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System panel connector

BIOS
8Mb Award BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, Chassis Intrusion, PXE
Accessories

1 x SLI bridge
1 x ASUS Q-Connector Kit (USB, 1394, system panel; Retail version only)
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x Floppy disk drive cable
4 x SATA cables
2 x SATA power cable for 4 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 module
1 x IEEE1394a module
User's manual

Software
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. The Package

The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus retail package costs around €120 - 165 in Europe. In contrast, the Asus P5N32-E SLI is only €145~195. The retail package is more or less the same with both motherboards:

Below is a list of what's included in the retail package:

The sound card is based on the Soundmax chipset and needs to be installed.

There are 6 colour-coded sound ports.

The sound card's installation slot is located right next to the first PCI-E slot. Just plug the card in and your ready to go.

The board is a nice clean design and all parts can be identified easily:

Let's zoom in on the CPU.

We can clearly see here the passive heat pipe cooling solution for the northbridge. As Asus comments "...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 or bundled optional fan...". The nearby components are low profile so there shouldn't be any problem with larger, 3rd party cooling solutions. However, the northbridge gets quite hot. Perhaps, Asus should have installed an active cooling solution to reduce overall heat, especially during overclocking.

The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus has four memory slots.

Click to Enlarge!

Moving to the southbridge, we can see the passive heatsink and the 6x SATA 2 connectors, well organized, not crowded:

The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus supports Nvidia SLI. There are 3x PCI-E x16 slots, two for SLI (blue) and one for physics card (white). Both blue PCI-E lanes are working at full 16x, while the white at 8x. There is plenty of space between the three PCI-E slots, so no problem there with extra large VGA cards:

There are extra connectors for USB, Front Panel Audio, COM2 and Firewire on the back. Asus has include all port modules in the retail package. The back I/O panel has the usual connections:


3. Installation

Using Everest Ultimate Edition 2007 we can get more information about the board:

Both North Bridge and South Bridge chipsets unveiled. The Asus P5N32-E SLI is what we can call a hybrid since it is based on the nForce 680i SLI and 570 SLI chipsets! Asus has implemented both chipsets to create a "cheaper" version of the Asus Striker:

The latest available BIOS was installed for all tests (0602).

Let's now see how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:

For comparison, we post the test results from 3 other motherboards:


4. Everest Ultimate Edition 2006 - SiSoft Sandra

- Everest Ultimate Edition 2006

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC. The software has several tests for memory and CPU/FPU built-in.

Both the Asus P5N32-E SLI and Plus versions performed very well in the memory tests, surpassing even the EVGA 680i LT.

In the CPU tests, the Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus was very fast, actually faster than many, other Nvidia based motherboards.

 

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc. Sisoft Sandra offers a variety of tests for Memory and CPU.

In Sisoft Sandra 2007 SP1, we confirmed our findings from the previous tests. The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus is just as fast as the other nVidia based motherboards. In the memory tests, the P5N32-E SLI is faster.

The USB performance of the motherboards was measured with Sisoft Sandra and a Corsair Voyager 8GB GT USB stick. The "Removable Storage" benchmark was used to get the "Performance Index" (reading/writing operations per minute).

Very good performance from the Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus, which was the best performer with a score of 11357.


5. PC MARK 05 - 3D MARK 06

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see the scores for memory and CPU.

Looking at the CPU score, the Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus had the highest score with 6152 points. The memory score was a good deal lower than the other nVidia based motherboards.

 

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mar06 tests both CPU and RAM, as well as VGA card performance. The EVGA 680i LT posted the highest score with 2113 marks, while the P5N32-E SLI Plus was close behind with 2104 index score.


6. Science Mark 2.0 - Pov-Ray - Nero Digital

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Pov-Ray s a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray 3.7beta15 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. We used the built-in benchmark as suggested by the developers.

In Pov-Ray, the EVGA 680i LT was marginally better, while in ScienceMark, the Asus P5B Premium finished with the highest score. There's very little between the motherboards though.

 

- Nero Digital

Nero Digital is one of the best known Digital formats, offering both ASP and AVC encoder profiles.

For our tests, we used the latest version of Nero Recode v2.3.1.8 as packaged in Nero Reloaded v7.5.0.1. As a source, we used a VOB file, of 5 mins duration. We encoded for each processor in two modes (ASP, AVC) with exactly the same preferences (Same bitrate and Dual pass). The encoding time displayed below is what Nero Recode reported. The lower the time taken, the better. All results are displayed in seconds.

All four motherboard produced similar times with Nero Recode.


7. Cinebench - Super Pi

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer’s performance in everyday use.

Especially a system’s CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. All tests were carried out with the latest available build (R9.5), and the sum of all subtests is displayed in the following chart, except for OpenGL Software & Hardware Lighting tests, since both depend on the installed VGA card.

In CineBench, the Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus was the lowest performer with 1600 points.

 

SuperPI has become an utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environments such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. For all motherboards, we tested up to 8M calculations and summed them for a total score.

The Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus continues to impress us with the lowest SuperPI Index score for nVidia based motherboards.


8. Overclocking

As we all known, Asus motherboards are usually good overclockers and Nvidia based motherboards offer enough BIOS settings to be able to perform overclocking. So how well can this motherboard overclock?

Initially, we kept the CPU multiplier locked at 9x and upped the FSB to see how high we could get. Our best efforts reached 370MHz FSB! Very good performance with all settings left at Auto.

Click To Enlarge!

Next, we tried to see how high the FSB could go on the Asus P5N-E SLI. Without making any special settings and leaving all voltages at auto, we managed to get a 100% stable system with 440FSB and memory running at 1:1. We could say that this result is good, but we have seen higher FSBs in our labs.


9. Conclusion

- Conclusion

The P5N32-E SLI Plus is the first ever motherboard to combine two different nVidia chipsets into a hybrid system. Asus has used the nVidia 650i SLI and nVidia 570i SLI chipsets in order to produce the P5N32-E SLI Plus. As we all know, the nVidia 650i SLI has two 8x lanes (under SLI mode). Asus paired both lanes to build the first x16 PCI-E slot, while the nVidia 570i SLI "drives" the other two available PCI-E slots (x16 & x8 for physics card). While all this technical detail isn't very useful for users, the actual results seem very good and in fact, its performance surpasses both the nVidia 680i and nVidia 680i LT tested motherboards in the majority of our tests.

The board's design is good, it follows the Asus P5N32-E SLI design. There are six (6) SATA II connectors for HDD and optical storage devices along with ATA133 and floppy connectors.

In the overclocking area, the board proved to be easily overclockable. The BIOS settings are what we have seen with P5N32-E SLI/Striker series and with an Intel E6600 processor, we got a maximum of 440FSB. Ok, this isn't the best result we expected, but its enough for most users.

For comparing the P5N32-E SLI and P5N32-E SLI Plus, we provide the following table:

 
P5N32-E SLI
P5N32-E SLI Plus
Chipset
nVidia 680i
nVidia 650i SLI/570i SLI
SLI
Yes, two full 16x
Yes, two full 16x
PCI-E
Three (two 16x and one 8x)
Three (two 16x and one 8x)
Lan
Two 1Gbit ports
Two 1Gbit ports
Audio
SupremeFX Add-on Audio Card
SupremeFX Add-on Audio Card
USB
10 ports available
10 ports available
Price
€145~195
€120~165

So is there any major difference between the two models? Apart from the chipset and price, no, not from what I can see.

Concluding this review, Asus once again shines with the P5N32-E SLI Plus. It offers very good performance and good price for enthusiast users. Can you ask for more?



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