Retroview #2 – A8N32 SLI Deluxe (AMD Socket 939)

*First off I wasn’t able to do this review within a monthly timeframe as I wanted, life threw me a few curveballs and delayed my being able to get it done but finally….Here it is.*

 

This time I’ll be covering an AMD Socket 939 board, namely the A8N32 SLI Deluxe.

This board model can be called a direct ancestor of the now famous ROG series of boards Asus has been making for sometime now. Since the ROG line represents the top boards within the Asus lineup this one can be referred to in the same light since it too was a top of the line board model for Asus when made.

As far as things go the A8N32 is a ROG in every way except by name itself.

In general:

In reference to the A8N32, for those wanting to have a powerhouse of a system specifically for gaming use the ROG series is a tailor-made lineup of boards for gamers wanting a setup capable of delivering outstanding performance yet remain cool under fire.

ROG boards have an extensive BIOS for tweaking with plenty of options for that purpose and the A8N32 is clearly such an animal. The BIOS for the A8N32 is extensive enough that you can tweak away and get good performance from your setup yet simple enough that most of it’s features are easily understood.

It’s true the more modern ROG boards are crammed full of tweaking options to the point that you’ll probrably never use them all, this one has plenty in it’s own right but not enough to overwhelm a user to the point of confusion like it can be with a true ROG.

Asus never made a ROG board for 939 because the ROG model line didn’t come into being for AMD chips until after Socket 939 was phased out, it was with Socket AM2/AM2+ that the very first of the breed came about in AMD form.

Intel equivalents came along first and eventually gave rise to the now infamous Socket 775 REX (Rampage Extreme) that was a model within the ROG line for Intel chips.

To sum up, it’s the same thing as a ROG before there was an actual ROG board made for AMD based setups.

Right down to the beefier heatsinks, heavier power phases of it’s circuitry, additional features and all else the ROG series is the one many gamers go for, the A8N32 during it’s time was the same but like all of it’s class it was also one of the most expensive boards too.

Features:

The A8N32 is loaded with features and was a fully equipped board for it’s time.

Let’s take a look and get an idea of what’s available.

CPUs:

Support for all Socket 939 CPU’s including Opteron chips.

Chipset:

Has the NVIDIA ® nForce4 SLI x16:

Northbridge: NVIDIA ® nForceTM SPP 100

Southbridge: NVIDIA ® nForce4 SL.

Memory:

Dual-channel memory architecture

4 x 184-pin DIMM sockets support unbufferred ECC

non-ECC DDR400/333/266 memory modules

Supports up to 4 GB system memory.

SLI Function:

SLI TM mode supports:

– 2 x identical SLI TM-ready PCI Express TM x16 graphics

cards – In SLI mode, the PCI Express x16 slots work

at the full bandwidth of x16 each, for a combined

bandwidth of x32

ASUS Soft SLI Bridge

ASUS EZ PlugTM

ASUS PEG Link for dual PCI Express graphics cards.

Storage:

NVIDIA ® nForce4 SLI supports:

– 2 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33 connectors

for up to four IDE devices

– 4 x Serial ATA devices (3 Gb/s)

– NVRAID for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5, and

JBOD configuration that spans across Serial ATA

drives

Silicon Image ® 3132 SATA controller supports:

– 1 x Internal Serial ATA device (3 Gb/s)

– 1 x External Serial ATA device (3 Gb/s)

(for SATA On-The-Go)

– RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations.

USB:

Deluxe/WiFi: Supports up to 9 USB 2.0 ports

Deluxe: Supports up to 10 USB 2.0 ports

(NOTE) The model being covered in this article is the non-wifi model, the wifi specs are only for the wifi version of this board model.

Audio:

Realtek ® ALC850 8-channel CODEC

1 x Coaxial S/PDIF out port

1 x Optical S/PDIF out port.

IEEE 1394:

TI ® 1394a controller supports 2 x IEEE 1394a

connectors at midboard.

Rear Panel layout:

1 x Parallel port

2 x LAN (RJ-45) ports

USB 2.0 ports (5 ports on Deluxe/WiFi model; 4 ports

on Deluxe model)

1 x Wireless LAN antenna port (Deluxe/WiFi model only)

1 x Wireless LAN activity LED (Deluxe/WiFi model only)

1 x External Serial ATA port

1 x Optical S/PDIF Out port

1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Out port

1 x PS/2 keyboard port (purple)

1 x PS/2 mouse port (green)

8-channel audio ports.

Internal Connectors:

1 x Floppy disk drive connector

2 x IDE connectors

4 x NVIDIA nForce4 Serial ATA connectors

1 x Silicon Image Serial ATA connector

1 x Serial port connector

1 x 24-pin ATX power connector

1 x 4-pin ATX 12 V power connector

1 x 4-pin ASUS EZ PlugTM connector

3 x USB connectors for additional six USB 2.0 ports

(4 x USB 2.0 ports on Deluxe/WiFi model)

1 x CD IN/AUX connector

2 x IEEE 1394a connectors

1 x GAME/MIDI connector

1 x Chassis intrusion connector

1 x Front panel audio connector

CPU, Chassis (x2), Chipset (x2), Power fan connectors

System panel connector.

*The source of these specs are directly from Asus as indicated by the following*: http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/socket939/A8N32-SLI%20Deluxe/E2280_A8N32-SLI_Dlx.pdf

Useage:

Depending on exactly what you’d want it for would determine if it’s the right choice for you. If wanting to build a nice retro-gaming rig then it’s right up your alley and offers just as much as any other typical board for that purpose including the DFI’s.

If wanting it for overclocking or all-out overclocking with 3D benchies then it may or may not be the one…. It’s 16×16 setup in SLI certainly gives it an advantage but compared to the DFI’s it’s lacking in some respects.

Overclocking in general with this board is good and if just wanting to run something in an overclocked config then it’s really no different than the DFI’s themselves as long as the OC’ing isn’t going for records and such.

If wanting one for competitive overclocking then this is where the difference lies between them.

The A8N32 is a really good board for competitive 3D benching because of it’s 16×16 SLI config capability but…. It only has this advantage as long as you’re running a pair of GPUs in SLI ; In single GPU config it then loses out.

For competitive benching the DFI’s are better esp with 2D benching, for 3D benching the A8N can hold it’s own provided the CPU used is one that doesn’t mind going up without having to slam voltage to it. Even with that the A8N32 can throw some juice to a CPU but not to the extent the DFI’s can, this sometimes making all the difference in what you get in the end. Good thing is the A8N32’s max voltage is about as much as you’d want to give one anyway short of having all-out subzero cooling such as DICE (Dry Ice) or LN2 in use.

The A8N32’s also lack the ability to really tweak things as a DFI can , the DFI’s have a finer selection of voltages for such things like chipset voltage. The A8N32’s have only two or perhaps three selections you can use and the voltage for RAM is limited to 3.2v’s as a max. DFI boards in stock config also have a max of 3.2v’s but they also have an offset voltage setting allowing for a bit more to be had….. And on top of that they also have a jumper you’d move to enable extreme RAM voltage, this running all the way up to 4.0v’s for use with BH5 based sticks.

One real advantage it has vs a DFI is they aren’t so fussy about what works and doesn’t work with it such as sticks of RAM. With a DFI they are picky about what sticks to use and with some cases won’t boot at all, in others it will work but be very stubborn about how it acts.

The A8N32’s don’t have this apparent want for certain sticks to be used, in most cases if it’s going to work it will as you’d want and not give you fits about making it go in the first place.

Don’t let the overall cons vs a DFI throw you off, the A8N32 is a good board and will provide what you’d want for a rig inside of a case with a typical gaming setup and it’s ability to run cards in 16×16 SLI makes a ton of difference vs even what the DFI’s can do. Overall they are great boards that can game with anything you could set them up against, even the DFI’s with all of their advantages won’t outpace them by much and in some cases will still fall behind.

Pros:

Made for heavy gaming use right down to the components it’s constructed from for reliability. The board’s layout reflects the best Asus had for an AMD setup at the time of it’s manufacture.

The BIOS has plenty of options to tweak without it being too complicated so tweaking isn’t difficult – Even a novice can get good performance from the board without much trouble.

For Socket 939 it was one of the very best gaming platforms to be had, in fact only the LanParty lineup was better and in some ways this was better than even the DFI’s, esp with it’s 16×16 SLI setup.

Not quirky like DFI’s can be with certain things.

Cons:

Not too easy to come across vs the more commonly seen A8N models of it’s family. However this particular model is top of the line of them all esp if it has WIFI built in.

Final comments:

The example I own has been a nice board to work with and was the direct successor to the previously covered NF4X Infinity for my daily useage when I upgraded and it served me well during it’s time on my desk and still works great today and picured below with an Athlon X2 4800 in the socket.  I will say for retrogaming it’s a good choice and with the right GPU setup will provide a nice gaming experience for about any kind of gaming along these lines plus CPUs and RAM as of this post aren’t hard to find or expensive to get.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I’m hoping to get another review done for next month on time but hey – That’s life and we all gotta deal right?

Yes we do.

One thought on “Retroview #2 – A8N32 SLI Deluxe (AMD Socket 939)

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar