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Asus P5N-E SLI Motherboard Review
Written by Gizmo   
Sunday, 06 May 2007 11:36


(Image courtesy of

Thomas Soderstrom

The Asus brand brings with it a better reputation for quality, and often a price increase to match. Yet, Asus has also proven that it's serious about its push into lower-cost markets: So will its 650i motherboard, the P5N-E SLI, rival ECS' NF650iSLIT-A and prove itself a value leader as well?

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The first thing we noticed when glancing at the P5N-E SLI is a return of the "paddle card" -- the manual selector card that allows a builder to choose between having one PCI Express x16 graphics card slot (with the full set of sixteen pathways) or two PCI Express x8 slots (with eight each, obviously). Other SLI-capable boards we've tested recently used either an automatic electronic switch or, as was the case with the ECS 650i motherboard, dual slots that are locked into x8 mode.

Other than the two graphics card slots, the board includes only two PCI and one PCI Express x1 card slots, for total support of five cards. ATX-sized boards can theoretically support up to seven.

Power connector placement is nearly ideal for traditional cases, with the four-pin ATX12V connector in the top-rear corner and the 24-pin ATX connector along the front edge. Other internal connections include two Ultra ATA connections (four drives), four Serial ATA ports, two USB 2.0 breakout headers (two ports each), one IEEE-1394 FireWire port, a floppy header, a Serial port header, and way back in the far corner, a front-panel audio breakout connector.

Floppy drive users will be disappointed with the connector's placement near the bottom-rear edge, which may force them to drag the cable across every card in the system. Also, we wish good luck to anyone trying to stretch a front-panel audio cable from an upper front-bay location to the lower-rear motherboard corner.

The P5N-E SLI uses a large passive Northbridge heatsink rather than a fan-assisted cooler. This choice prevents overheating due to fan wear but may require die-hard overclockers to use a downdraft cooler instead of a now-popular cross-draft design.

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