Asus P5N7A-VM - Asus P5N7A-VM

By Leo Waldock



Our Score:


Before we consider this comparison let's take a quick look at the Asus P5N7A-VM which really won't take long. It's a Micro-ATX design with four DDR2 memory slots, a graphics slot, a laid-down ATA133 connector and five vertical SATA connectors. There are three USB headers across the foot of the board along with some unused parts that have been marked for a TPM connector and a Firewire chip. Five SATA connectors may sound weird but the sixth connection has been used for an eSATA port on the IO panel along with six USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, the audio connectors and no less than four graphics outputs in the shape of VGA, DVI-I, HDMI and DisplayPort. It's hard to find fault with that little lot.

The chipset is passively cooled with a heatsink that uses a loop of heatpipe that appears to be included for cosmetic effect as it has no obvious function. During testing the heatsink reached a relatively warm 54 degrees Celsius under load until we added a case fan to reduce the temperature.

Nvidia's briefing about 9300M/9400M makes a point of directly comparing its new chips with Intel G45 and this is where things get a bit sticky. Our PCMark05 and 3DMark06 figures show that there isn't a huge amount to choose between the two IGPs. Curiously enough G45 wins in the graphics element of PCMark05 while GeForce 9300M wins big time in 3DMark06. It's a safe bet that the graphics drivers play a part in all of this and Nvidia was very specific about the installation routine we should use for our Asus board.

First we had to install the nForce 20.07 chipset drivers but had to uncheck the graphics drivers and then we had to separately install GeForce 178.13 graphics drivers. It also listed a number of features that add some whiz to its new chipset; for instance we are told that Adobe Photoshop CS4 has a GPU acceleration feature that zips along on 9300M/9400M but which doesn't work with G45. It is unclear if this is a feature of the drivers or whether Adobe has shown some special love to Nvidia but we don't have Photoshop CS4 so the point is moot.

During the briefing we had on 9300M/9400M Nvidia stressed that its new chip is superior at gaming as G45 suffers from various incompatibilities or is forced to use lower quality settings. We also saw a long list of games that includes Crysis and Assassin's Creed but it had never occurred to us that anyone would play those games on integrated graphics. One point that was spelled out was that 9300M/9400M looks far better than G45 mainly thanks to its ability to display water properly and we happened to have a copy of Far Cry so we gave it a try with both IGPs. The game played surprisingly well at 1,024x768 and we had no trouble using either High or Very High quality settings. We took screen grabs with both the 9300M and G45 and cannot tell the two apart.

Nvidia also stresses that the new chipset supports Cuda acceleration and video transcoding to convert video from one size/format to another e.g. for your iPhone. Fair enough, if you intend to use your integrated PC for relatively serious work you will probably find that 9300M/9400M has an advantage over G45 but the rest of us would find it incredibly difficult to distinguish between the two chips.


nVidia's new 9300M brings some good features to the motherboard table but nothing that blows us away. With regards this particular Asus model, it's fairly basic with a stripped down feature list yet the price is uncomfortably high.

Hans Gruber

October 16, 2008, 4:04 pm

Nice review, Mr Waldock. You explained it all very well and I learned a lot.



October 16, 2008, 5:23 pm

the MSI board with this new 9300 chipset does not have dual-link DVI (so would only output low res)

can you please tell us if this Asus does..?


October 16, 2008, 5:43 pm

I'm afraid I'd have to disagree I found this a disappointingly thin review - was it rushed?

On the 3dMark chart the labels indicate you're comparing 2 Gigabyte boards - wrong chart or wrong labels?

Ok so there is not a lot of difference between this and a G45 although the Nvidia supports faster memory and has a PATA interface. By the way it would be helpful to know the driver levels you used on the G45 comparison board.

Leo Waldock

October 16, 2008, 6:35 pm

HDMI up to 1,920 x 1,200 so 1080p

DVI up to 1,600 x 1,200

VGA up to 2,048 x 1,536

Display Port up to 2,560 x 1,600

Driver versions are bang up to date for 32-bit Vista and are nForce 20.07 and GeForce 178.13 for the 9300M and INF and GFX for G45

As for Nvidia supporting PATA there is a JMicron JMB368 controller so in that respect it is just like Intel.

Hans Gruber

October 16, 2008, 7:26 pm

@Epic. I didn't know anything about integrated graphics options on motherboards, currently available today so did find it useful in that regard. I felt that part at least was well explained.

My own interest for the board did not extend any further than this, as I have a P45 board and have no use for it. Whether the review covered over features sufficiently, I'll leave for you and others to judge.

I've been browsing through some of Leo's past memory reviews and found those interesting and somewhat enlightening, too. So, I appreciate the effort in providing a readable (though less dense) overview of the differences to some of the computer components out there today. It all helps. Cheers. :)

Guilherme Mello

October 16, 2008, 11:29 pm

what CPU was used for the charts?

Leo Waldock

October 16, 2008, 11:59 pm

The CPU should have been listed on the test results - it was a Core 2 Duo E8500 running at stock 3.16GHz on 1,333MHz front side bus. 2GB dual channel DDR2 - 800MHz on the 9300M, 1,066Mhz on G45. OS was 32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate Edition.

Singulariter 1

October 17, 2008, 12:11 am

I would say check out the: ASUS M3A78-EM

It's pretty much all the same features on 780G for half the price


October 18, 2008, 1:29 am

Does this board have overclocking enabled for the GPU? I know Asus has been shy about allowing it on 780G boards, so I would assume it to be the same for the 9300M. It might be a good way to save some cash to look for a board that allows it.


November 4, 2008, 7:32 pm

Question: How many screens can the 9300M chip drive at the same time?

I'd love to use this as a second computer, but be able to drive my main TV to watch DVDs etc.. while still having my computer monitor plugged in.


November 4, 2008, 9:25 pm

Answer: Two

Looking at the manual on the Asus site it states you can run VGA at the same time as the DVI/HDMI. But you can't run two digital outputs at the same time. I can therefore drive my monitor via VGA (it's old) and have a hdmi connection to my TV.


November 14, 2008, 8:54 pm

Thanks for the review Leo. You helped me finally decide for this board :)

Now that i have it, i have some questions (maybe others can help too). I've mounted it on a Antec Fusion Remote Max case with a E8400 with a Xigmatek HDT-s1283 (yes, it fits inside that case). I'm only using the Antec 12 and 14 cm fans provided with the case, and I didnt check the temperature of the chipset until todays update of Speedfan wich told me my chipset was at 75 degrees celsius on IDLE!!! I've checked it with GPU-Z too. In your article you say you mounted a case fan to lower that temperature. You mean you mounted a case fan on the chipset? I'd like more info on this if possible

Thanks a lot, and keep the good work


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