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The Dual Graphics Platform Battle, Part 1

Asus A8N32-SLI

Board Revision: 1.01

BIOS Version: 0502

The latest A8N motherboard carries a slightly different name, as the X16 SLI chipset allows for as many as 32 PCIe lanes to be used for dual graphics. The motherboard comes with an additional x4 PCIe slot that could also be used to host mass storage controllers, should you wish to run a workstation with a more powerful disk subsystem than what the nForce4 is capable of powering.

In addition to the integrated NVIDIA GbE NIC, with its ActiveArmor feature, a secondary Marvell chip was placed onto the motherboard. There are as many as ten USB 2.0 ports available - four at the back panel and six more using header expansion modules, or employing the front USB connectors that are popular these days.

We found three 32 bit PCI slots to accommodate your expansion cards. However, deploying two dual-slot VGA cards such as the new GeForce 7800 GTX 512 models, will cost you at least two of these.

All the chipset components, as well as half of the voltage regulators, are kept cool by a sophisticated copper heat pipe cooling solution. This, by the way, makes the A8N32 SLI the heaviest desktop motherboard we've tested yet.

We found some additional nice features that make this motherboard somewhat special. For example, there is one SATA port available within the back panel, allowing external operation of a device such as a SATA hard drive. Another independent port, powered by a Silicon Image controller, was placed close by.