iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS A8N-SLI-Deluxe Motherboard

Unlike the Gigabyte motherboard on the same chipset, we can see that the inconvenient placement of SATA connectors right opposite to PCI-E x16 slots is not the case with this motherboard, which allows to use a long video card and all SATA ports are accessible. Besides, the chipset cooler is installed between PCI-E x16 slots, so it does not interfere with long video cards.

The 4-phase switching CPU voltage regulator contains about 15 capacitors.

The motherboard has a COM port (the only port at all!). Motherboard dimensions – 305x245 mm ("wide" ATX, nine-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed). The ITE IT8712F-A chip is used to monitor: CPU and memory voltage, +3.3 and +12 V; rpm of two fans; CPU temperature (by the built-in CPU sensor) and motherboard temperature (by the on-board sensor).

A8N-SLI-Deluxe motherboard:

It's based on a chipset from NVIDIA – nForce4 SLI.

  • CPU
    • Socket939 for AMD Athlon64/ 64 FX

  • Chipset
    • NVIDIA nForce4 SLI MCPs (media and communication processors)
    • Super I/O: ITE IT8712 chip

  • Integrated peripheral devices
    • Silicon Image sil3114 controller
    • T.I. IEEE1394b controller
    • Marvell 8053 Gigabit Ethernet controller
    • CICADA8201 Gigabit LAN PHY network chip
    • Realtek ALC850 Audio AC'97 codec

  • Memory
    • Type: DDR400/ 333/ 266 -184pin
    • Total capacity of up to 4 GB DDR in four DIMM slots

  • I/O ports
    • 8 x Serial ATA (4 X Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s)
    • 2 x UDMA ATA 133/100/66 Bus Master IDE
    • 1 x FDD
    • 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 (supports up to 6 ports)
    • 2 x IEEE 1394b (up to 3 ports are supported)
    • 3 fan headers
    • CD/AUX in
    • 1 x Game/Midi port

  • Expansion slots
    • 2 x PCI-Express x16 slots supporting two PCI-Express video cards in SLI mode
    • 2 x PCI-Express x1
    • 3 x PCI slots (PCI 2.3 compatible)

  • PS/2 mouse / keyboard
  • 2 x RJ45 ports
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 1 x LPT port
  • Audio connectors (digital)
  • Audio (Line-In, -Line-Out, Mic-In)

BIOS in a 4 MB flash memory chip offers the following settings:

  • CPU, AGP and DIMM settings
  • clock, multiplier, and processor core voltage
  • frequency and voltage for PCI-Expess x16
  • DIMM frequency and voltage

I'm not going into chipset details, our readers can read about them in the baseline review of NForce4.

NVIDIA chipset is allocated in one chip, which is covered by a cooler with fan:

The cooler is very noisy, it operates at 8000 rpm (!!!). The motherboard controls its rpm and at computer startup, when the cooler has not gained the necessary rpm (for example it's 5500 instead of 7700-8000), BIOS will not allow to proceed – it will warn that the rotational speed of the chipset cooler is too low. You cannot disable this feature in BIOS Setup.

That's an illustrative example of the ugly high frequency noise produced by this fan: (2MB, AVI DivX 5.1) or (3MB, AVI DivX 5.1).

It should be noted that the construction of the cooler makes it very difficult to replace (non-standard distance between mounting holes). Besides, it's glued fast to the chipset die surface and you risk damaging it, if you try to remove it.

Package Contents

  • Box: standard design box of the AI Proactive series
  • Documentation: user's manual in English, short motherboard guide in 5 languages including Russian
  • Cables: 2 x ATA66/100/133, 1x ATA33 and an FDD cable – all black with company logo; also 8 x Serial ATA (with four PCPlug-SATA adapters to power 4 devices)
  • Rear panel bracket with 1 x FireWire
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB and a Game port
  • Rear panel bracket with a COM port
  • Rear I/O shield
  • One CD with software:
    • Motherboard drivers
    • DirectX 9.0b
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • PC-cillin 2002
    • ASUS AI Booster
    • ASUS Live Update
    • ASUS PCProbe
    • ASUS Screensaver
    • Winbond Voice Editor
    • InterVideo WinDVD Platinum 5
    • InterVideo WinDVD Creator Platinum 2
    • InterVideo WinRip 2

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on HDA Realtek ALC880 codec (7.1 ch Audio) with front Audio I/O jacks
  • 2 x LAN controllers, one of them is based on the on-board controller from NVIDIA supporting 10 Base-T/100 Base-TX/1000 Base-T. The other is based on Marvell 88E8001- LKJ supporting 10 Base-T /100 Base-TX/1000 Base-T
  • FireWire based on Texas Instruments TSB82AA2 and TSB81BA3 chips supporting three FireWire-800 ports
  • USB 2.0, based on Cypress CY7C6564D-LFC chip supporting three USB 2.0 ports
  • SATA RAID based on the Silicon Image SiI3114CT176 chip supporting RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 with four SATA connectors

A metal plate is installed on the back side of the PCB opposite to Socket939 to reinforce cooler mounting:

SLI support is certainly the salt of this motherboard: as we have already said, there are two modes: PCI-E x16 – as a one-slot solution, the second slot is x2; and 2x PCI-E x8. These modes are managed by a special module:

There may be only one inconvenience: in order to get access to the selector-board, you will have to remove all expansion cards from the motherboard.


We'll review only the main and the most interesting programs that come shipped with this motherboard.

BIOS Maintenance

This utility chiefly serves to update BIOS automatically right from Internet without rebooting into DOS. It also allows to save the current BIOS version to your hard disk.

Motherboard maintenance and monitoring under Windows

First of all, it's AIBooster – a proprietary program from ASUS. It provides monitoring features as well as motherboard (processor) overclocking, it can even modify some BIOS settings:

There is also a proprietary utility from NVIDIA - nTune, which allows to control motherboard operation from the monitoring point of view:

The motherboard supports Cool And Quiet technology, which allows to reduce CPU load and lessen its temperature when possible. There is also a proper monitoring utility:

And of course the bundle includes the renowned PC Probe:

That's the end of our brief review of this product. I repeat that you can read our detailed review of nForce4 here.

We express our thanks to ASUSTeK
for the provided A8N-SLI-Deluxe motherboard

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

March 9, 2005

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