Asus P5ND2-SLI - Asus P5ND2-SLI Review

Sections

In the box Asus has supplied five SATA data cables and two SATA power cables with four connectors on each, along with two IDE cables and a floppy cable. Finally, you get an SLI bridge to connect your two SLI cards together as well as a very clever bracket that holds the bridge in place once installed.


Interestingly, Asus has gone for passive chipset coolers, which reduces the noise your PC makes. However, the heatsink on the northbridge is as large as I have ever seen. It got very hot during testing and there is no way to mount a fan on top of the heatsink due to its unusual shape. The power regulation circuitry also has a passive heatsink for improved cooling. The lack of active cooling means that you must ensure you have good airflow inside your case or some components might overheat.


The fan headers are also dotted around the board in rather unusual locations. The CPU connector is logically placed but the others aren’t where you might need to them. One is squeezed in between the floppy connector and the memory slots, while another is located just below the 24-pin power connector. Yet another is found right next to the south bridge and the last one is just above the top x16 PCI Express slot.


Asus has a SLI board for Athlon that dispenses with the selector card to choose between SLI and non-SLI modes, but on the P5ND2-SLI one is present. Above this is a four-pin Molex connector close to the top x16 slot, which is required to supply the board with enough juice when in SLI mode. This means more cable clutter, which doesn’t help with airflow. At least the 12V power connector is placed towards the top of the board, out of the way of everything else.


There are some design issues with the P5ND2-SLI that Asus should look into but at least the performance numbers look good. As I was using a 3.73GHz Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU along with 1GB of Corsair XMS 5400UL memory and two 6800GT cards, anything but top notch performance would have been disappointing to say the least.


With an overall SYSmark 2004 score of 227 there are few boards that can touch the P5ND2-SLI for performance on this test. This is also the first nForce 4 SLI Pentium 4 Edition board that has produced a SYSMark 2004 score in our labs, as the Gigabyte board didn’t complete the test. However, the PCMark 2004 scores of the P5ND2-SLI are slightly slower than those of the Gigabyte GA-8N-SLi Royal but not by much.


The same applies to all of the 3D tests, with the Asus boards slightly behind the Gigabyte. A BIOS update should resolve this, although at the time of writing no new BIOSes were found on Asus website. On the software side a full version of InterVideo WinDVD Suite in included, which is a bonus.


At £150.78, the Asus P5ND2-SLI it’s on the expensive side, although Pentium 4 boards have always been pricier than their AMD counterparts. With that, and the stability issues I encountered during testing in mind, I’d be reluctant to recommend this board as it stands.


I can’t quite put my finger on what’s causing the instability issues I’ve seen with this and all the other P4 SLI boards I’ve looked at. But having tried everything I could think of, including upgrading the BIOS and changing drivers for both motherboard and graphics cards, I’ve run into something of a brick wall and as yet, the manufacturers have not been able to come up with an answer to my problems.


”’Verdict”’


The P5ND2-SLI has a wide range of features, passive cooling and a very good SYSmark 2004 score but with quibbles over its design and question marks over its stability it’s difficult to recommend at this juncture.


Graphs to follow…

Score


Score in detail

  • Value 7
  • Performance 9