Asus K8N-E Deluxe Socket 754 Motherboard
The layout of the Asus K8N-E Deluxe is very clean thanks to nVIDIA's single chip architecture - gone are the days of separate Northbridge and Southbridge chips, at least for nVIDIA. This reduces the complexity of the motherboard layout drastically and is reported by nVIDIA to improve the overall performance by reducing latency.
Starting with the socket, we see that the area is largely clear except for a row of capacitors. Compared to the old Asus A7N8X-E socket A motherboard, the K8N-E's capacitors are further away (10mm away compared to 6mm) and the capacitors themselves are 5mm shorter than the 25mm capacitors used on the previous Asus A7N-E. This should give wider support to after-market coolers and easier installation. The cramped socket area was one of my complaints of the A7N8X-E when I last reviewed it and I'm glad Asus has improved on this drastically.
The socket is clear. Those capacitors are lower profile than typical too!
The location of the ATX power header is in an awkward location. Though it is in the best position to not inhibit airflow around the CPU, it may make installing and removing hard drives difficult depending on the size of your case as it did in mine.
The ATX power connector blocks removal of the IDE drives.
There are two SATA connections located between the AGP and the socket. This may be an odd location, but it distinguishes which SATA connections belong to the nVIDIA 250Gb MCP and to the SiL 3114C. The other four SATA connections are toward the bottom of the board and is contolled by the SiL3114C chip.
The SiL3114C controller is one of two SATA controllers
on the Asus K8N-E Deluxe!
If you are using a large cooler on your video card, you should be aware that there is no gap between the AGP and the first PCI slots. You will block this PCI slot off when installing your AGP card with an over-sized cooler.
Asus has always focused more on value and reliability rather than overclocking, so it's no surprise to see a passive cooler on the MCP chip. If cooling your MCP for overclocking is a concern of yours, then you will either have to strap on a fan or get an after-market cooler (that Thermalright NB-1C Lee reviewed looks amazing).
Asus' motherboards have kept with using jumpers longer than most other manufacturers. Thankfully, the K8N-E Deluxe has caught up to the rest of the market by having only USB power-on and CMOS reset jumpers. The CMOS jumper, however, is in a poor location - it's bunched together with another jumper in an inaccessible corner of the motherboard. This makes it hard to get at when you need to do a quick reset, especially if you have large fingers. I assume Asus did this because their CrashFree BIOS 2 is supposed to help prevent any need to clear a CMOS in the first place, but from what I've read, many people still need to do the jumper-switch from time to time.
The CMOS jumper is awkwardly located.
There are 3 fan headers on the motherboard (chassis, power supply, and CPU. This should be enough for most of you, but some enthusiasts may find this too little.
The backpanel is very well appointed with every useful connection you need. Not only does it have your typical legacy and USB connections, there is also an IEEE 1394 port, and two SPDIF outputs (coax and optical). Unlike some other Asus motherboards, there is only one LAN connection on the Asus K8N-E Deluxe which I think is a small price for having the Firewire port on the back.