ASUS P5N32-SLI Premium/WiFi-AP Edition nForce 590 Review - Page 2 of 6
Review by Kyle Kerley - November 20, 2006
While I was quite excited to be getting such an awesome motherboard to test out, I was definitely most excited about finally getting a chance to play with one of the Intel Core 2 Duo chips. With the powerful 2.4GHz E6600 chip powering this setup, I knew I was in for a treat.
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Box
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU
The following is the system that was built around this review:
ASUS P5N32-SLI Premium/WiFi-AP Edition Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU
2GB Super Talent DDR2 800 RAM
Inno3D GeForce 7900 GS video card
Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Elite Pro soundcard
Western Digital Raptor 74GB HDD
Installation was a breeze. I had no problems whatsoever, and with the included Q-Connector Kit, installation went even quicker and easier than I've ever had one go before. Below are a number of pictures of the motherboard before it was put into my case. The first shows the SATA ports, which I actually missed at first glance. The six ports reside in the reddish colored outcropping facing toward the bottom of the picture. The ports face sideways, rather than vertically. At first, I didn't like this, but I've found that using the included SATA cables with L-shaped connectors, I prefer this setup to having the ports on the board vertically. It is a more compact area and keeps them out of the way of the PCIe x16 lanes and any video cards that may be excessively long or wide.
Southbridge and SATA Ports
The southbridge also sports the slick AI Lifestyle Decal on its heatsink. Below is the CPU socket with the surround heatpipe/heatsink passive cooling for the northbridge and southbridge.
CPU Socket and Northbridge/Southbridge Heatsinks
Just a little ways over from the heatsink is where the four DDR2 slots reside. Each marked of the channels is denoted by a yellow/black DIMM pair; I found the RAM a tad confusing. Thinking that to get dual channel activated, I had to put a stick in both yellows or both blacks, I found that doing that resulted in single-channel RAM. In order to get dual-channel mode activated, the opposite is true: a stick must be placed in a yellow/black pair of adjacent DIMMs. The manual outlines this perfectly, however, this is not obvious from eyeballing. I'm a big proponent of using colors to signify what goes where and the way the DIMMs are colored is very counter-intuitive.
DDR2 DIMMs and IDE/FDD/ATX power connectors
Right next to the second bank of DIMMs is where the IDE and FDD controllers and the ATX power connector are all found. They are in a pretty out-of-the-way area that helps keep them away from other cables and helps the overall design to keep case clutter down. ASUS did a bang-up job laying this board out to maximize airflow and minimize clutter.
The board has three PCIe x16 slots, the blue and black of which are full x16 slots capable of delivering 16 lanes to each card in an SLI setup. The yellow x16 slot in the middle of those two is x16-sized, but only supports x8 speeds.
PCI and PCIe slots
There is one PCIe x1 slot between the yellow and blue x16 slots, a proprietary slot that looks like a reversed PCIe x1 slot for the SupremeFX soundcard and two PCI slots straddling the black x16 slot. The bottom PCI slot will be covered by a video card in an SLI setup and the top slot is right on top of said card, making things a bit tight if a PCI soundcard or other peripheral is being used.
Also visible in the above picture of the PCI/PCIe slots, right above the first PCIe x1 slot and below the lower USB/LAN cluster, is the 802.11g WiFi card. It is slightly better shown in the image of the back I/O panel below.
Click Image to Enlarge - 900x222 (65KB)
And finally, the CPU and motherboard have become one. My first Intel experience went seemingly well. I noticed that the four pegs seemed a little wobbly, but the heatsink seemed to be attached tightly to the CPU so I thought nothing of it. A quick reseating of the heatsink fixed that problem immediately and the heatsink is fully locked in, making full contact with the CPU
CPU in place
However, as my usage report on the next page shows, things didn't go so smoothly after I got the board into the case and all hooked up.