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ASUS P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard (nForce 680i SLI)
Mainboards | First Looks
Wed 24 Jan 2007



ASUS Plus One

 


Heat-pipe cooling surrounds the CPU socket, but leaves plenty of space for coolers still.


Three PCIe x16 slot makes for some strong graphics, but limits available expansion.


ASUS 8-channel SupremeFX add-on audio module, which enables the board's HD Audio capabilities.

ASUS has been launching new motherboard SKUs left, right and center recently and we sometimes find out with some surprise that a new model is already available before its predecessors have really had the chance to penetrate the market. This is the case with their brand new P5N32-E SLI Plus, another NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI based motherboard. However, unlike the Striker Extreme that was reviewed awhile back, the P5N32-E SLI Plus is not part of the ASUS Republic of Gamers (R.O.G.) series, but of their long standing AI Life line. Although more 'modest' by design, there is no mistaking the P5N32-E SLI Plus for what it is - a high-end premium motherboard for enthusiast level users.

Enter nForce

Like other ASUS nForce 680i SLI motherboards, the P5N32-E SLI Plus is of its own design and not one of NVIDIA's OEM clones. It carries signature hallmarks of the AI Life series with its no-nonsense black PCB, Stack Cool 2 layer and passive heat-pipe chipset cooling. Unlike the elaborate maze of the Striker Extreme's heat-pipes, the P5N32-E SLI Plus carries a more simple split pipe system, one for each chip with its own radiator. However, they still form a square around the CPU socket, so users should be certain that any third cooler has sufficient clearance. An 8-phase cap-less PWM design ensures stable power to the CPU, which should further help with heat buildup and overclocking at adverse voltages.

Déjà Vu

If the P5N32-E SLI Plus looks familiar, it is because the board is a spin of of the originally announced P5N32-E SLI, also an nForce 680i SLI board. From what we can surmise by look at their technical specifications, this new 'Plus' variant is exactly the same as the P5N32-E SLI, except for one visible difference.

The P5N32-E SLI Plus comes with a full set of solid capacitors, while the older P5N32-E SLI has mixed capacitors. After Gigabyte started their solid capacitor campaign, which is designed to increase the durability and lifespan of a board, more manufacturers have jumped on, releasing PCB updates and new products with the same intent and ASUS is well on the bandwagon too. To this end, the P5N32-E SLI Plus is certainly the better choice for overclockers and enthusiasts.

Features Aplenty

More and more, ASUS is offering their SupremeFX audio add-on card with premium boards instead of traditional onboard audio. While the chipset used is the same (Analog Devices ADI 1988B) HD Audio system in all Intel LGA775 boards, putting the chipset on a separate add-on card is supposed to reduce analog interference. The one downside to this though, is that ASUS has to cede one possible expansion slot up for the proprietary audio card. And with a chipset such as the nForce 680i SLI and its triple PCIe x16 slots, the board is already setup for extreme graphics configurations with very few expansion options left. The rest of the board is typical nForce 680i SLI fair; six SATA 3.0Gbps ports with NVIDIA's MediaShield RAID capabilities, native IDE support, ten USB 2.0 ports and native dual Gigabit LAN MACs (paired with Marvell 88E1116 PHYs). The board also sports two FireWire-400 ports through a VIA VT6408P controller.

Our Thoughts

With the P5N32-E SLI Plus, ASUS is now the only top-tier manufacturer to have a whole series of boards based on the NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI chipset alone. With the chipset's firm record and ASUS' solid engineering, the P5N32-E SLI Plus should be a strong performer as well. The SRP of the P5N32-E SLI Plus is currently set at S$379 (~US$246), well under the asking price of the premium Striker Extreme.

Product Specifications

  • Chipset - NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI
  • FSB Support - 1333*/1066/800/533MHz
  • CPU Support
    • LGA775 socket for Intel Core 2 Extreme/Core 2 Duo/Pentium Extreme/Pentium D/Pentium 4/Celeron D Processors
    • Intel Quad-core CPU Ready
  • Max. 8GB Dual-channel DDR2 800/667/533, NVIDIA SLI-Memory Ready
  • SLI capable triple PCIe x16 graphics
  • MediaShield SATA 3.0Gbps with RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD
  • 8-channel SupremeFX HD Audio (ADI 1988B) with Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out and DTS Connect
  • Dual Gigabit LAN (Marvell 88E1116)
  • 2 FireWire-400 ports (VIA VT6308P)
  • 10 USB 2.0 ports
  • 8-Phase PWM Design, Stack Cool 2
    *When available