Intelligent Overclocking Tools
ASUS Unique Features
ROHS and Operating System
So let's get straight to the meat of the naming scheme. The P5N32-E SLI Plus board has a 650i SLI Northbridge married to a 570 SLI Southbridge. The 650i NB only supports up to 2 x8 PCI Express slots. ASUS decided to add the 570 chip to allow up to two x16 lanes to operate at the same time, giving the P5N32-E SLI Plus the equivalent of the same number of PCI Express lanes as a full-fledged 680i chipset would bring to the table.
ASUS in fact outfits the P5N32-E SLI board exactly as they did the Striker Extreme in terms of expansion in the form of 3 PCI Express x16 slots (2 x16 1 x8), two PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI slots. As we'll see in the layout section, the two boards share more than a superficial similarity.
The P5N32-E SLI Plus board supports all current Intel LGA-775 CPUs including the Quad Core QX6700, the Core 2 Duo E6800, the 9xx series, the 8xx Dual Core series, the 6xx series and the Celeron D series. I was able to test the P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard with an E6700 Core 2 Duo CPU which worked flawlessly without an issue.
ASUS decided to support SLI-Ready memory with their P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard. SLI-Ready memory is memory that has been tested by NVIDIA to work stably and in conjunction with other SLI components like SLI-ready PSUs and nForce 680/590 motherboards. SLI-Ready memory also supports EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles), which stores additional information in the memory besides the SPD information.
The P5N32-E SLI Plus board sports four DIMM slots which support up to 8GB of DDR2 memory clocked at up to 800MHz. To support more than 4GB of memory, the operating system needs to be 64-bit, as 32-bit operating systems can only address 4GB of memory. Linux, Windows XP 64-bit or Windows Vista 64-bit are required for 8GB of memory as the 32-bit versions will only see 4GB.
SATA hard disks replaced the IDE standard years ago. Six SATA ports are on the board, which allows the board to use MediaShield in RAID 0 mode. RAID 1 mode is supported to allow two mirrored sets of 3 drives each (from the nForce 590 chipset.) An IDE controller and a FDD controller make up the rest of the expansion on the board for drives.
Onboard sound has improved over the last three years to the point that add-on sound card makers like Creative Labs made only a very small amount of money in the add-in market. Their gross margins over the last three years have decreased from 35% to 15% mainly due to the decrease in audio sales. The P5N32-E SLI Plus sports an ADI1988b CODEC that supports Intel's High Definition Audio standard. HDA includes such useful features as multiple independent audio streams (allowing 5.1 sound and 2.1 streams to be simultaneous), Dolby Digital Surround Sound, 7.1 Surround Sound and more.
ASUS calls their implementation of the ADI1988b CODEC SupremeFX. The onboard audio is implemented via an audio riser card that replaces the rear IO jacks that are normally found on motherboards. The jacks include Side-Out, Rear-Out, Center/Subwoofer, Mic-In, Front-Out and Line-In. To install the onboard sound, simply insert the riser card into the slot and install the drivers. The onboard audio supports EAX 1.0, 2.0, Microsoft DirectSound and Aureal3D 1.0.
The rear I/O on the board is interesting due to the removal of the audio jacks that would normally be on the back of the board. Four USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, a PS/2 Mouse, a PS/2 Keyboard two RJ-45 jacks for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet and S/PDIF Optical and Coaxial Outputs make up the rear IO. Two Marvell PHYs control Dual Gigabit Ethernets which supports DualNet, another nForce 590 innovation that the 650i chipset does not normally support.