Other features are less fundamental. If you so choose you can set the motherboard to talk to you as it boots, informing you what it’s doing at each step in a pre recorded American style voice. It’s gets fantastically irritating, very quickly, but it might be worth enabling if you’re troubleshooting at POST, as it will tell you what isn’t working, such as CPU or memory and is less cryptic than a series of lights.
A feature labelled Instant Music caught my eye and claims that it will enable you to play back audio without booting up the PC. Asus supplies a plastic strip that sits over the F keys of your keyboard to indicate what keys control the feature. However, though I enabled the feature in the BIOS and selected the DVD-ROM drive as the Instant Music Drive it didn’t work for me.
Another feature is the LAN Cable status option which will tell you if an Ethernet cable is live, and even estimate its length, which again could be used for troubleshooting.
As well as supporting Socket 939 Athlon 64 CPUs including dual-core X2s, and offering SLI, the board has a lot of technology going for it. The nForce4 chipset sports nVidia’s NVFirewall and NVActiveArmor. It’s a better option than the Windows Firewall and offloads data packet inspection tasks from the CPU.
The chipset also supports SATA-II, the highlight of which is a data transfer rate of 3GB/s, ready for the latest generation of drives. Another tasty supported feature is Native Command Queuing, which can offer a nice performance boost on compatible drives.
There’s a Dual-RAID option, with the nForce4 SLI chipset providing four SATA connectors with the option for RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD. Clearly this isn’t good enough and Asus has added a Silicon Image controller that adds another four SATA ports and the option of RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10. That’s more like it.