Asus M2N32-SLI nForce 590 SLI AMD Motherboard Review
Features and Layout
The Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe shares a lot in common with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard, the predecessor using the nForce4 SLI X16 chipset for the S939 AMD processors. The layout and some of the features do add onto what made the A8N-series so successful.
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At first glance, the motherboard stands out due to its perpendicular memory mounting method, going across the width of the motherboard instead of down it. Since Asus wanted to use a heat pipe cooling solution for the dual chip design, they needed some extra room.
The AM2 processor socket supports all AMD processors that use that platform design bringing DDR2 memory support to AMD for the first time. You can see here that the CPU socket area is not particularly roomy due to the large heat pipe and surrounding DIMM slots. Installing the Zalman heatsink (shown in our MB installation section) wasn't a problem though and I would imagine the same can be said for most cooling options out there.
We can also get a good look at the heat pipe cooling solution used on both north and south bridge chips as well as the capacitors and MOSFETs next to the AM2 processor socket.
The DIMM slots, as already mentioned, run side to side with the motherboard layout, not vertically like most motherboards do. This doesn't affect anything in terms of performance, but you should note that unlike what Asus normally does, dual channel memory performance requires both yellow DIMM slots to be filled first. If you have particularly wide memory modules, it might cause an issue and I just prefer the more open air feeling you get from having them separated.
The main ATX power connector and the single IDE and floppy channels are seen here, right along the edges of the DIMM slots and CPU socket. The IDE channel is a bit cramped in here and getting access to it after having your memory, video card and power cables installed might be tricky.
The secondary ATX power connector is still using the 4-pin connector instead of the upgraded ATX version that calls for the 8-pin connection. It is located just above the primary GPU slot on the motherboard and will be hard to get to after motherboard installation.
Zooming away and looking at the entire expansion configuration you can see that the M2N32-SLI is very obviously built for SLI configurations. The two full x16 PCIe slots are spaced so that there is another slot open between them, either for a x1 PCIe accessory or just for extra air flow. The two legacy PCI slots are located at the bottom of the board. Should you use an SLI configuration with dual slot coolers, then you'll be left with only a single PCI slot for any expansion cards you might have.
Located just beneath the bottom PCI slot are two blue USB 2.0 headers, a single red FireWire header and the green front panel audio connector is located to the left of the secondary (black) x16 PCIe slot.
The bottom corner of the motherboard is actually one of the most simple and shows six SATA connections, all powered by the south bridge on the nForce 590 SLI chipset. Also note that there is not one, but FOUR case fan headers down here, enough for probably all users.
Up near the external connections, you'll find this lone SATA connection hiding in black; it is the only internal SATA connection powered by the Silicon Image chip directly behind it. The other is located on the outside as an eSATA port.
Speaking of them, here is what the Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe offers up in that regard: two PS2 connections, one legacy serial connection, 8-channel analog audio outputs and two digital audio outputs, four USB 2.0 connections, two Gigabit Ethernet connections powered by the nForce chipset, a single FireWire connection and that eSATA port mentioned before.
On the far right is the connection for the wireless networking adaptor that Asus has integrated on to the M2N32-SLI as well.
Here we see all the goodies that Asus has packed into the M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard as well. There are six SATA data cables and power adaptors, a dongle with two additional USB 2.0 ports and one with another FireWire connection. A single IDE and floppy cable are included, as is a flexible SLI bridge connector. Below the rear case face plate sits the fan that Asus includes to provide extra cooling to the heat pipe fins should you need it (passive or water cooling users, for example).
A feature in most high end boards recently as well, Asus has included a wireless antennae to use the on-board 802.11 b/g networking adaptor. Also, a noise-canceling microphone is included as well.