Asus P5ND2-SLI Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £151.00

This was meant to be a head to head between the Asus P5ND2-SLI and another SLI board; sadly the other one didn’t run any of the 3D tests properly. So here we are, with the Asus P5ND2-SLI on its own.

Having now tested three nForce 4 Pentium 4 Edition SLI motherboards and experiencing stability issues with each I must admit to having some concerns. It’s undeniably a very fast chipset, but the issues I have encountered have made me hesitant about it being a viable option at this early stage, for anyone who wants Intel inside and SLI. That said, I did at least manage to get a near full suite of benchmarks from the Asus, which is more than can be said for the other board.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the P5ND2-SLI to see what it has on offer. Once again Asus has managed to impress in terms of features as the P5ND2-SLI is riddled with components. The downside of having this many features is that the layout is quite cluttered and once you’ve got your CPU cooler and two graphics cards fitted, it’s actually quite hard to get to some parts of the board.

The nForce 4 SLI Pentium 4 Edition chipset offers a wide range of features and Asus has taken advantage of all of them. This means that you get four SATA connectors with support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5. Asus has on top of this added a further two SATA connectors via a Silicon Image controller, although these are located in quite odd locations. One is actually part of the rear I/O connection block, which means that it’s actually accessible from the exterior of the PC and thus suitable for hot plug external SATA devices, though these are thin on the ground at the moment. The second one is located between the top PCI Express x16 slot and the chipset heatsink. Both controllers are SATA II and support transfer speeds of up to 3GB/s.

nVidia has stuck with two IDE controllers, so there’s support for up to four IDE drives. One of the IDE connectors is unusually placed at the side of the board at an angle, which has the advantage of making it easy to access. The other one however, is squeezed in between the 24-pin power connector and the memory slots. This means that when the power dongle is connected it will be difficult to reach that IDE connector. Above the power connector is the floppy drive header, which I think should swap places with the second IDE connector.

Asus has also included dual Gigabit Ethernet; one controller courtesy of the chipset and the other, unusually, from Intel. The downside with the latter is that it’s PCI rather than PCI Express and will as such not perform anywhere near as well as the integrated controller and will hog the PCI bus bandwidth if used at Gigabit speed.

The features don’t end here though as you also get FireWire and 7.1-channel sound. Sadly, Asus hasn’t gone for High Definition audio but rather a bog standard AC’97 solution. The I/O panel consists of two PS/2 and a parallel port, optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs, the aforementioned SATA connector, four USB 2.0 ports, two Ethernet connectors, a six-pin FireWire port and six audio connectors.

Taking a deep breath, the feature list continues. There are three brackets coming off headers on the motherboard. One offers a serial port, one with a single FireWire port (could these two not have been fitted on the same one?) and finally one with two USB 2.0 ports and a game/midi port.

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