Having been a long time fan of Intel processors, I finally decided to buy a brand new AMD Athlon X64 CPU for my second PC system. The recent price drops from AMD, made my decision easier. In order to have the absolute maximum performance, you need an ultra fast motherboard, that supports many features and all the latest technologies. ASUS kindly offered us the chance to test the latest motherboard supporting the AM2 socket, the M2N32 WS Pro.
Some may ask why Asus. My answer would be...for most users, it's the king of motherboards. After talking with many computer technicians, they told me that the reference boards are from ASUS, especially for ultra fast memory modules. Of course, ASUS motherboards are not the cheapest you can find, but nevertheless, good support and frequent Bios updates more than make up for it. The features list is quite long, so let's get started.
- Asus M2N32WS Pro
The Asus M2N32WS Pro is characterized as " the ideal foundation for a powerful workstation". The motherboard is based around Nvidia's nForce 590 SLI chipset, which supports extreme overclocking and of course SLI mode.
It supports AMD socket AM2 dual-core Athlon 64 FX/Athlon 64 X2 and single-core Athlon 64/Sempron processors with 2MB/1MB/512KB L2 cache, which is based on the 64-bit architecture. It features 2000/1600 MT/s HyperTransport Bus, dual-channel un-buffered DDR2 800 memory support and AMD Cool 'n' Quiet! Technology.
The advanced processing technology contains two physical CPU cores with individually dedicated L2 caches to satisfy the rising demand for more powerful processing capability.
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.
NVIDIA nForce® 590 SLI™ (NVIDIA LinkBoost™ certified)
NVIDIA nForce® 590 SLI™ media and communications processors (MCPs) deliver the tools and performance PC enthusiasts demand. When combined with select NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards and other system components, you get automatic access to faster bus speeds. Ready for system overclocking and greater data throughput.
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! (From www.NVIDIA.com)
ASUS Special Feature - Thermal
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 likelyhood. 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 Special Feature - Performance
AI Clock Skew
AI Clock Skew automatically skews the memory clock signal timing, thus improving memory overclocking capability by 10 to 15%, depending on the memory features when users overclock memory frequency. Users can easily enjoy better memory overclocking without strenuously fine-tuning the clock signal timing. For professional users, they can still adjust each memory channel's clock signal separately to reach the highest memory frequency.
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.
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 25-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 200MHz up to 400MHz at 1MHz increment
- - PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
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.
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.
ASUS Special Feature - others
To balance both system performance and quietness, AI Gear allows users to choose from profiles to adjust CPU frequency and vCore voltage, minimizing system noise and power consumption. Users can real-time change the mode under operating system to suit their needs.
With AI Nap, users can instantly snooze your PC without terminating the tasks. System will continue operating at minimum power and noise when user is temporarily away. It keeps downloading files or running applications in quietest state while you're sleeping. Simply click keyboard or mouse, you can swiftly wake up the system in few seconds.
ASUS Crystal Sound
This feature can enhance speech-centric application like Skype, online game, video conference and recording.
ASUS Array Mic
The bundled Superbeam Array Microphone receives only the sound coming from the reception cone and ignores the sound coming from other directions. This mechanism eliminates a large number of interferences including neighboring speakers and reverberations. It also uses advanced de-reverberation techniques to reduce echo and minimize its effect on the speech engine.
This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.
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 3
The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3 allows users to restore corrupted BIOS data from a USB flash disk containing the BIOS file. This utility saves users the cost and hassle of buying a replacement BIOS chip.
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 MyLogo 3
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.
PCI-X, the new and improved version of the previous PCI, offers faster data transfers and enhanced system reliability with ECC automatic single-bit error recovery and double-bit error detection. PCI-X enables users to keep pace with upcoming advances in high-bandwidth, business-critical applications such as Fiber Channel, RAID, InfiniBrand™ Architecture and iSCSI. It is backwards compatible with PCI-based hardware and software.
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 also outperforms PCI interface with its exceptional high bandwidth up to 500MB/s. The high speed PCI Express interface creates new usages on desktop PCs e.g., Gigabit LAN, 1394b, and high-speed RAID systems.
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.
High Definition Audio
Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC! The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. You can now talk to your partners on the headphone while playing a multi-channel network games. All of these are done on one computer.
SATA on the Go
The M2N32 WS Professional 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.
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.