Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus Hybrid Chipset Motherboard Review
Features and Layout
If you were careful enough to pay attention to the spec listing on the previous page, you might have noticed something odd in the row for the chipset. Instead of something simple like "nForce 680i" you instead got all this:
NVIDIAÂ® Dual X16 SLI
(C55+MCP55P; a.k.s. nForceÂ®650i SLI & nForceÂ®570 SLI)
ASUS HybridUp Technology
What Asus has done is to create a Frakenstein chipset; taking the north bridge from the nForce 650i chipset and the south bridge from the previous nForce 570/590 SLI chipset and fusing them on the same board. The result is what Asus calls an "NVIDIA Dual X16 SLI" chipset using Asus' HybridUp Technology. With it, the P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard gets the dual x16 SLI support as well as the features of the 650i chipset.
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The motherboard layout itself is very similar to other Asus motherboards we have looked at recently including the use of heatpipes instead of fans for chipset cooling and the inclusion of three PCIe x16 connectors for improved expansion capability.
The LGA775 CPU socket supports all of the current Core 2 Duo processors as well as the previous Pentium 4 and Pentium D lineup. In addition, Asus claims that the P5N32-E SLI Plus is 100% ready for 1333 MHz FSB processors when they become available later this year.
There are four DIMM slots that support dual channel DDR2 memory up to 800 MHz speeds officially. The Asus BIOS also has support for NVIDIA's approved SLI memory modules, allowing easier and more stable overclocking in a more automated environment.
Heat pipes have become a staple on Asus' motherboards of late with mostly positive reviews. Here you can see the single heat pipe responsible for cooling the north bridge chip with fins to the side of the processor socket. Those fins require some air circulation over them (usually provided by the CPU cooler) in order for the motherboard to run at its most stable.
There is another heat pipe setup that ends with fins over the CPU socket that is for cooling south bridge, which also gets quite hot.
The expansion configuration on the P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard consists of three PCIe x16 slots; only two of them (the blue ones) are actually fueled by x16 bandwidth while the other (the white one) has x8 PCIe bandwidth going to it. There are also two legacy PCI slots, a single x1 PCIe slot and a custom slot for the audio riser card.
Looking at the bottom corner of the board we see the various SATA and storage connections the board supplies. There are leads for the power and reset buttons that we found on the Striker board, indicating that the same or similar PCB was used on this P5N32-E SLI Plus motherboard.
The six included SATA 3.0 Gb/s connections are facing outward from the motherboard to prevent any interference with other components such as graphics cards. There are also two fan headers located directly beneath them.