When nVidia first introduced SLI, supporting motherboards were, initially at least, worryingly unstable. Fortunately, thanks to new BIOS revisions and board updates, this seems to have cleared up. In our tests the Asus A8N-SLI Premium proved to be rock solid, which is more than could be said for the Asus web site, which kept throwing up errors while I was checking facts for this review.
Be that as it may, it wouldn’t put me off recommending this heavyweight board, which comes packed with almost all the performance, features and accessories you could wish for.
This is the third version of this board, which supports all Socket 939 AMD CPUs and offers dual PCI Express slots for SLI, with a standard version and a Deluxe underneath this Premium Edition. This might be the most expensive version, but it’s the most interesting, for two primary reasons. Firstly, on this board Asus has done away with the flip chip PCB that has to be turned round to enable SLI as on other motherboards. Instead, this function is controlled by the BIOS, so that when if you put in a second graphics card, it will just work. For some reason, the BIOS option, labelled AI Selector, has three settings, Auto, Single and Dual, though I’m not sure why you might need the last two settings.
The second reason it earns its Premium status is that instead of there being a fan on the motherboard chipset there's a heat-pipe, drawing heat away into a heatsink that sits above the Mosfets. Radial Fins help direct the heat away from both of these. This is effective but it means that you need to ensure that your PC case has good airflow to move that heat out of the case, to avoid heat related problems.
Aside from these two headlining features you get a long list of features, as is traditional with Asus. A quick look at the BIOS demonstrates that this motherboard is set-up with overclocking in mind. When enabled, the AI-NOS function automatically overclocks your system depending on system load, with a claimed near instant response time. This can be set in the BIOS or performed in Windows using a supplied utility. Alternatively, you can use AI Overclock which contains presets for overclocking the motherboard by a fixed amount, with the choice between three, five, eight and ten per cent. Alternatively, you can do things automatically, enabling you to increase the FSB and adjust the voltages for the memory, CPU and chipset. Of course you could also leave it as the standard default setting, but that would be really boring and a bit of a waste if your spending money on a board such as this.