Asus K8N4-E Deluxe/Extreme N6600 – Motherboard & Graphics Card Bundle Review - Asus K8N4-E Deluxe/Extreme N6600 Review

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The board layout is rather unusual with the x16 PCI Express slot positioned in the middle of the motherboard. Above the x16 slot are three x1 PCI Express slots and below it are three standard PCI slots. Asus has fitted plenty of fan headers as well, with two at the top of the board close to the CPU and a further two usable fan headers further down. The chipset heatsink is fairly small and Asus has chosen to fit a small fan to it. To be fair, it wasn’t all that noisy, but considering that the x16 PCI Express slot is out of the way of the chipset cooler I would have preferred a passive solution.


The ATX power connector on the K8N4-E Deluxe is one of the new 24-pin types, but Asus has fitted a universal ATX connector that allows you to use a standard 20-pin ATX power connector.


Apart from the three rear brackets Asus also supplies four SATA data cables, three SATA power splitters – each with two SATA power connectors – two ATA133 IDE cables, one ATA33 IDE cable and a floppy cable. You also get a copy of interVideo WinDVD Suite and Norton Internet Security 2005. The manual is pretty good and covers most of the information you need to know and then some.


So far so good, so let’s take a look at the graphics card. The Extreme N6600 is a fairly standard 6600 PCI Express card with 3.6ns memory. Asus has fitted a custom cooler which produces a reasonable amount of noise. The card has D-SUB, DVI and S-Video outputs and Asus supplies a DVI to D-SUB adapter as well as an S-Video to composite video cable.


It might not be the best graphics card on the planet, but this bundle isn’t really intended for anyone who’s into high-end gaming. For anyone with a GeForce FX5900 XT or slower, this will definitely be a decent upgrade.


To test the performance of this bundle I used an Athlon 64 3400+, 1GB of PC3200 DDR SDRAM and a 120GB IDE hard drive. These are components I could see a potential buyer using with this bundle. The overall SYSmark 2004 score of 163 isn’t breathtaking but it’s not terribly slow either. The PCMark 2004 score of 4140 is more in line with what I expected to see from a setup like this.


As this is a bundle I also ran a full set of 3D benchmarks, but limited them to 1,024 x 768. Half-Life 2 put in a very playable 51.2fps and Doom 3 managed no less than 52fps with 8x Anisotropic Filtering enabled. Far Cry was not quite as fast at 46.8fps while 3DMark05 managed a fairly paltry 2115.


What it finally comes down to is cost, and at £159.80 inc VAT this Asus bundle offers pretty decent value – especially when you consider that you can easily spend far more than this on a graphics card alone. This is not a high-end kit, but if you already have a Socket-754 processor and want to upgrade to a PCI Express platform, then your choice is somewhat limited. Asus offers the motherboard on its own at a lower cost of course, if you would rather fork out for a faster graphics card, but on the whole the supplied card seems like a fair complement to the Socket-754 CPU that will be driving it.


”’Verdict”’


Asus isn’t the first company to bring out a PCI Express based board for Socket-754 processors, but it is the first company to bundle a motherboard with a graphics card. For those looking for a complete upgrade package at a reasonable price, the Asus bundle is worth a look.