Electronic Design

Motherboard: ASUS

ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard will support single- or dual-core 64-bit AMD Athlon processors. It has four memory sockets that can handle up to 4 Gbytes of RAM. The motherboard employs 400-MHz dual-channel DDR memory. The motherboard has a number of features. On optional feature that was not installed on this version is WiFi support. This adds an on-board adapter and a socket for an external antenna.

The motherboard incorporates NVidia’s nForce4 SLI x16 chipset that supports two x16 PCI Express video card slots. The two SLI-compatible video cards can be linked using the Scalable Link Interface (SLI). A cable connects to the top of each video card. Of course, the cards must support SLI as well. Check out the review of the MSI Computer 7800GTX board for more on SLI. The slot layout also takes into account high-performance SLI video cards by separating the cards by two PCI slots.

The Stack Cool 2 system is designed to provide fanless cooling. The system employs a special layer under the motherboard to dissipate heat. A heatpipe system supports the NVidia chipset. An 8-phase power module design allows better power control that can reduce heat and increase the lifetime of the processor.

The motherboard can take dynamic power and performance management in both directions. It can slow down the processor as the compute load lessens. It can also push past the limits of the processor with non-delay overclocking if enabled. Most overclocking systems always push a system past its limits, potentially reducing processor life. Users can also tweak voltage and speed of the front side bus and the PCI Express interface.

The NVidia support also includes NVFirewall and NVActiveArmor that is integrated with the dual NVidia Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The system incorporates anti-hacking technology and packet inspection technology.

Additional on-board peripheral interfaces are extensive. There is the typical parallel port, PS/2 mouse, and keyboard plus four external and four internal USB 2.0 ports. The serial port is provided via an internal connector.

The audio support is impressive as well. There are 8-channel audio port connections plus an optical or coax S/PDIF connection. It is also possible to have multiple stereo inputs instead of the multichannel inputs. This system can handle any speaker or amplifier system you throw at it.

The storage interfaces are also extensive. There is an external SATA-II interface that can support up to 16 devices via an external multiplexor. There are four interal SATA-II drives plus an additional SATA-II interface with RAID support. RAID configurations include RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5, and JBOD. A pair of internal IEEE-1394 connections can be brought to the backpanel with the supplied connector.

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