Features & Layout
The chipset comes in a familiar two-chip SPP (System Platform Processor) and MCP (Media and Communications Processor) solution. Besides having the need to integrate a memory controller into the SPP, this design allows the chipset to offer more PCI Express lanes ï¿½ 46 in total which is equal to that of the original AMD nForce 590 SLI. 22 lanes are on the SPP while the remaining 24 is controlled by the MCP. The chipset is pretty flexible with as much as 11 PCIe links, allowing two full SLI capable PCIe x16 lanes plus a combination of PCIe x1 and an extra PCIe x8, which can be used for a third graphics card. The P5N32-SLI Premium uses this exact configuration, so you'll notice that there are three PCIe x16 slots onboard. The two x16 slots which can be used for SLI are the blue and black slots though, so if you've got your card in the yellow (PCIe x8) slot, don't be surprised that SLI doesn't work.
Other advanced features of the nForce 590 SLI that have been brought into the Intel Edition include support for the new Enhanced Performance Profile (EPP) DDR2 DIMM modules. Termed SLI memory by NVIDIA, DDR2 modules with EPP basically uses the extra space on the SPD to define a wider range of performance memory parameters outside of the JEDEC specifications ï¿½ a clever feature to provide additional memory tweaking if you have the right hardware. Of course, since NVIDIA launched the nForce 590 SLI, there hasn't really been a big rush to support EPP yet and only a few manufacturers carry these special memory SKUs. If you want to know more about the EPP specification, you can head on over to our original nForce 500 series article here .
One of the best features of the nForce 590 SLI that the P5N32-SLI Premium brings to the Intel community is its DualNET technology. The board features two onboard Gigabit Ethernet MACs (supported by Marvell 88E1116 PHYs) that comes with TCP/IP acceleration, FirstPacket packet prioritization algorithm and network teaming, where both Ethernet ports can be combined into a single fat pipe supporting fail-over and load-balancing as well. Being ASUS, the P5N32-SLI Premium also features the WiFi-AP Solo 802.11g wireless module based on the Realtek RTL8187L chipset. Note that thie WiFi module is an optional add-on available only on the WiFi-AP Edition boards.
The audio support on the P5N32-SLI Premium however takes cue from ABIT and DFI with a separate audio riser card that plugs into a proprietary slot. The 'SupremeFX Audio Card', or so it's called is based on Analog Devicesï¿½ ADI 1988B, an 8-channel HD Audio CODEC supporting DTS Connect. The card itself features the full range of analog connections, while S/PDIF ports are located on the motherboard. Calling on similar reasons as ABIT and DFI have in the past with their own AudioMAX and Karajan modules respectively, setting the audio CODEC away from the motherboard PCB reduces analog noise. However, that also means eating up one potential expansion slot. On a board like the P5N32-SLI Premium, those are already hard to come by if you still have PCI cards you rely on.
Storage-wise, the P5N32-SLI Premium has six 3.0Gbps ports and an UltraATA port controlled by the nForce 590 SLI MCP. Theses are standard features on the nForce 590 SLI MCP, supporting SATA RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5. There is an additional Silicon Image SiI3132 controller onboard which is used to provide for the two dedicated eSATA ports at the rear panel. Combined with the VIA VT6308P chipset, the P5N32-SLI Premium motherboard features ten USB 2.0, two FireWire-400 and two eSATA 3.0Gbps ports, making it one of the most well connected boards today.
The P5N32-SLI Premium is a pretty packed motherboard, though we have to give it to ASUS for a job well doneï¿½again. Using a fully heat-piped design, ASUS managed to keep a low profile on the board and we dare say that all its components are ideally positioned, or at least, we wouldn't want to change anything - there simply isn't any room on the PCB. The staggered PCIe x16 design leaves plenty of room for GPU cooling and while we can already hear some crying foul of the lack of expansion slots, you have to remember that the P5N32-SLI Premium is built for enthusiasts and gamers. Graphics and performance usually begs higher priority than expandability (unfortunately).