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The ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe

The ASUS AM2 ATX motherboard lineup
ASUS casts the first stone in the race for AM2 dominance

With the AM2 and MCP55 launches just around the corner (May 23, 2006), motherboards are already starting to trickle into the retail channel.  DailyTech recently obtained the complete ASUS AM2 launch roadmap, including ATI, NVIDIA and VIA offerings.

The spearhead of ASUS's AM2 offerings will be the nForce 590 SLI and Xpress 3200 motherboards, labeled as the M2N32-SLI Deluxe and M2R32-MVP Deluxe respectively.  The M2N32-SLI Deluxe features everything you'd expect to find on nForce 590, including dual gigabit LAN ports from the nForce MCP, eight SATA 3.0Gbps (of which one is external SATA) and dual full x16 PCIe graphics interfaces.  NVIDIA's LinkBoost technology will also make an appearance on the M2N32-SLI Deluxe, which ASUS's box art claims will automatically overclock the PCIe and MCP HyperTransport link by 25% when a GeForce 7900 or 7950 GPU is inserted into both PCIe x16 interfaces. The M2N32-SLI Deluxe will also come in a workstation version dubbed the M2N32-WS.

The high end M2R32-MVP Deluxe features similar specifications and uses the fabled ATI SB600.  The motherboard features dual full x16 PCIe graphics interfaces, dual gigabit LAN and six SATA 3.0Gbps interfaces. 

Continuing to work down the line, ASUS will also offer an M2N4-SLI motherboard based on the nForce 4 SLI chipset.  Aside from the obvious PCIe lane configuration differences between nForce 4 and nForce 5xx, the M2N4-SLI uses a bog standard AC'97 5.1 channel codec with four SATA 3.0Gbps interfaces.  ASUS's M2V will be the only VIA offering from the company at AM2 launch.  The M2V, based off the K8T890 Northbridge and 8237A Southbridge, will only feature a single x16 PCIe interface and one SATA 3.0Gbps devices.  To round off the low end, ASUS will also offer an nForce 430 motherboard with all the GeForce 6150 trimmings.

ASUS also has plans for a few MicroATX AM2 motherboards on its roadmap, including the M2NPV-VM (GeForce 6150, nForce 430 with dual video outputs), the M2NPV-MX (a slightly cheaper version of the M2NPV-VM) and the M2N-MX which will be the first ASUS MCP61S motherboard.  Expect to see this motherboard begin to sample near the end of June, with the other MATX offerings showing up just after the AM2 launch.

ASUS's high end boards feature a new player in the integrated motherboard audio market for the company: Analog Devices.  ASUS first experimented with the ADI's SoundMax digital processor on a few Intel 965 prototypes, but it appears SoundMax will have a permanent home on new high end ASUS offerings going forward.  The ADI SoundMax 1988B features 7.1 high definition audio and special optimizations for voice recording.  The ASUS M2N SLI offerings come with an array microphone that uses multiple mic heads for a slightly less distorted sound.

Once again, the majority of ASUS's high end offerings will offer 8-phase power in the form of dual 4-phase serial circuits.  Some offerings, like the M2N32-SLI Deluxe pictured, will also come with an 802.11b/g WiFi card with an omni-directional antenna. All high end motherboards also come with a fanless heatpipe design.

We don't have prices on these motherboards yet, but expect to see them at your local Fry's or Newegg within the next few weeks!


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Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 3:21:31 PM , Rating: 2
I notice these motherboards have Ultra DMA ports - arn't these big bulky ports obsolete.

Interesting about 2 lan ports - is that usefull on a desktop system.




RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By AllYourBaseAreBelong2Us on 5/12/2006 3:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
Most people still need an Ultra DMA port for the CDROM/DVDROM units.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 4:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
But SATA Optiical drives are available and likely would be quite abundant by end of summer.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Bull Dog on 5/12/2006 5:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well right now, they are still bloody expensive.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By defter on 5/12/2006 5:20:33 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But SATA Optiical drives are available and likely would be quite abundant by end of summer.


And? If I want to just upgrade motherboard & CPU, why should I buy a new overpriced optical drive if the old one works just fine?


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 5:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
Well the cost of SATA Optical drives are not much different then normal drives. A pioneer 110d SATA DVD burner was 75.

Anyway I think most people who would be purchasing this system will likely be upgrading every thing. Some like myself still have AGP cards - this is first AMD systems with DDR2. So its likely means memory.

If you going upgrade almost everthing, why not the whole system and keep the second as spare/server...


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Trisped on 5/12/2006 7:15:21 PM , Rating: 3
I have 2 DL-DVD burners and 2 120GB hard drives that work just fine. If I upgrade my system I would leave only one of each in the old system and move the other two to the new one. That way I would have a back up, non-SATA drive for playing DVDs and CDs as well as 120GB to back up all the old data files from my previous computer.

Besides, there are still floppy drives, even though the floppy is so out dated the only thing I would use it for is updating my BIOS. If floppy is still there I don't think IDE is going to leave for a while.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By trabpukcip on 5/14/2006 9:21:31 AM , Rating: 2
SATA optical drives are currently thin on gorund and have been for some time, the manufacturers just don't seem to be that interested in developing them. I reckon at least end of 2007 before you see them commonly shipping in new systems.

Even the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD prototypes I have seen have all been PATA. There is no performance gain just less obtrusive cables. Future high speed Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives might require SATA 300Gbps for the bandwidth.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By bob661 on 5/14/2006 1:11:32 PM , Rating: 2
I don't plan on upgrading everything. Just the required stuff. Also, I can get a UDMA DL DVD burner for $40. $75 is too expensive just to get a SATA port.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By plonk420 on 5/14/2006 4:30:29 PM , Rating: 2
will likely to be abundant?

i see all of 2 $100 SATA drives on The Egg. i found all of three other models, the cheapest of which was a $50 or $60 burner, made in 2004. no $20 DVDROMs to be seen like there are with IDE/ATAPI. i guess this is the cost of licensing SATA chipsets?


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 5/12/2006 4:22:39 PM , Rating: 2
Actually no. I have an Asus P5WD2 Premium right now, its got dual gigabit ethernet. In the past I've had rare instances where one of them would act funny, so I can simply move the cable to the other port and its fine, usually this happens when certain games patch their stuff strangely. Advantage is that my ethernet ports are Intel gigabit, and Marvell Gigabit respectively so its 2 different chipsets controlling it. IF they are the same chipsets on both ports (likely the case), the only benefit is in LAN parties in which case you can connect both and bridge them for extra bandwidth if you want to setup your box as the server, or have a better potential throughput to the server :)


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Trisped on 5/12/2006 7:18:48 PM , Rating: 2
I have also heard of them being used to connect one computer to two different internet lines (like combining 2 DSL lines to get 6.0-12.0Mbps with 1Mps upload). I don’t know how well that works though…


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Missing Ghost on 5/12/2006 4:27:31 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you say that? Even the new 750GB drive is available for IDE. IDE still works very well and has enough performance for today. Sure, you may prefer the small cables, but don't spit on another older technology that still works.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 4:47:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well I been looking at systems with SAS which are also compatible with SATA and can handle up 16256 devices. IDE cables can be so bulky - no IDE would make system so much neater and simpler.

Maybe not this year, but I would say by next year IDE will be obsolete and gone.


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By Zoomer on 5/14/2006 2:07:55 AM , Rating: 2
There is only 1 ide connector. Bad!


RE: Ulta DMA - is it obsolete
By bob661 on 5/14/2006 1:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
One connector is fine nowadays. I know there some people that have two burners but it's not really necessary unless you need to burn two things at once (is that possible?). Also, you can get IDE to SATA converters too. I use them at work with no issues.


AM2 is a bad idea
By photoguy99 on 5/12/2006 2:28:15 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, let's buy lots of AM2 cpus - even though within 60 days we'll be able to get the same performance for 1/2 the price.

Go Conroe!




RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By heulenwolf on 5/12/2006 2:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
Being able to get same performance for half the price by getting an AMD over a P4 never stopped most folks from buying Intel in the past. Turnabout's fair play;)


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By drebo on 5/12/2006 2:52:14 PM , Rating: 3
It's going to be funny when all that comes out in 90 days is a bunch of water.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 3:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't read anything about these motherboards being watercooled.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By animedude on 5/12/2006 5:37:23 PM , Rating: 2
I think he meant intel's release.

"Being able to get same performance for half the price by getting an AMD over a P4 never stopped most folks from buying Intel in the past. Turnabout's fair play;)"

Thats because of Intel's marketing + channel harassment.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 7:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
To be honest, I was joking.. his joke deserves another one.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 7:31:22 PM , Rating: 2
second though, mine was true - so I was actually implied that the water comment was a joke.

There is no mention of watercooling in the article.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By mendocinosummit on 5/12/2006 7:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
AM2 is being launched now with the technology that is in current 939, except the memory controller, that is why there is no performance gain. AMD never said there would be a substantial performance gain, consumers were just expecting one. AM2 being launched now will make it easier for AMD to release K8L in the 1st half of 2007 and then we will see a performance gain.


RE: AM2 is a bad idea
By Live on 5/12/2006 5:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
Conroe might beat a AM2 CPU in performance but availability is looking to be very low and hence prices are likely going to be very high. The thing isn't even released yet and the prices are already going up in every report I read. First report out they were labeled as cheap. Next report prices were much higher and fewer models was available. If the trend continues Conroe looks to be limited edition with street prices much higher then MRSP for the rest of 2006.


By hstewarth on 5/12/2006 6:41:51 PM , Rating: 2
I have heard no indications of low available of Conroe. In fact it should be the oposide - you likely find low indications of older Netburst - Netburst will start be fading out in 2nd half of 2006.

Besides this article is not talking about Conroe.


external sata
By chickenselects on 5/12/2006 4:24:25 PM , Rating: 2
looks like it even has an external sata port. Are there easily accessible consumer products that actualy use it yet?

I still plan on jumping on the conroe wagon but AM2 should be a good step for AM2 assuming they stick with the socket for more then a year.




RE: external sata
By chickenselects on 5/12/2006 4:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
AMD* i hate the lack of the edit button....


RE: external sata
By NilsE on 5/12/2006 9:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think that's an HDMI port you're looking at. I could be wrong.


RE: external sata
By NilsE on 5/12/2006 10:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind--just realized that this wouldn't even have onboard video. Heh. Whoops.


RE: external sata
By trabpukcip on 5/14/2006 9:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
I saw a picture the other day of an onboard HDMI connector can't remember what site it was.


RE: external sata
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 5/15/2006 10:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
First to market woes
By Stele on 5/12/2006 10:45:49 PM , Rating: 3
I'm a little wary about first-to-market-hyped products... no telling what corners they cut (especially with respect to ironing out bugs and/or design/engineering quality testing) in order to rush the product out the door. This is especially so considering that a number of ASUS' supposedly high-end products have been making shaky first impressions lately - e.g. the A8N-SLI family and even the A8R32 - with a laundry-list of problems in some cases. I'm so hoping this new crop of products would be better.

Of course the flip side is that manufacturers might just feel that consumers might think this way and so deliberately hold back their products just to avoid being 1st to market. *shrug*

Many have advocated leaving Asus for DFI etc for good motherboards, but while I agree DFI boards rock in many ways, none can match Asus' 3-year warranty (at least in this part of the world) and also look 'professional' rather than garishly 'vibrant' - imho, of course.

Also, it looks like the audio subsystem is contained on its own daughterboard, a la DFI. Not sure if it's merely copying the concept or a sign of an increasing awareness among motherboard manufacturers of the need to improve onboard sound quality. Or perhaps they just ran out of motherboard real estate after cramming all the other features in :P




RE: First to market woes
By Cincybeck on 5/13/2006 3:21:48 AM , Rating: 1
Professional? I don't think most people who show off their boards with case windows don't have professional in mind, although I do like the black PCB, which DFI uses too.. kind of wish i could get all the plastics in black or a dark blue tho...

Oh and the daughter-board--
That's the SLi board so the audio is built into the nvidia chipset. I bet people are going nuts "OMG soundstorm 2!" Yea screw ss2 I still want an x-fi... Anyways the daughter-board is the built in Wi-Fi card you can tell because the "Omni directional" antenna is plugged into it.. =D


RE: First to market woes
By Stele on 5/13/2006 5:20:54 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I don't think most people who show off their boards with case windows don't have professional in mind


Which is exactly the point - there are many users who don't intend to have case windows nor show off their boards and prefer a more 'sedate' - if that's the better word - design. DFI's boards, while very attractive to their target market, come across as - well, punkish? for want of a better word - which is a shame considering that people who want serious, rock-solid quality and stability would very much like to consider their products. It's all personal taste of course... it can after all be argued that those who don't intend to show off their boards wouldn't have side panels and hence wouldn't see the board much, whatever it looked like.

About the daugther-board and audio ... the main audio processing may be done in the chipset, but the codec circuitry would still be outside (for instance, remember the Realtek ALC650 on the SoundStorm nForce2 boards?). It is thus still vulnerable to crosstalk and EMI since the circuitry is in such close proximity to the rest of the densely-packed motherboard's circuit traces. This has traditionally been a common problem with onboard audio solutions. So regardless of whether it's SS2, x-fi or just generic HD Audio, it would be better off sitting on a physically separate board as DFI has been doing lately. Being on the motherboard, however, isn't fatal to the sound quality - it just needs more careful grounding to keep stray signals out.

In this board's case, the codec circuitry is still very much on the board itself: the ADI codec is the tiny square at the edge of the motherboard nearest to the viewer, between the small green front panel audio header and the double bank of brown-and-white KZE capacitors.

But you're absolutely right about the daughter-board being the Wi-Fi card... I took a second look at the photo, noticed the cable and followed it to the antenna - d'oh!!! Somehow I focused on the gold connector and the nearby audio jacks, so my first thought was "digital audio coax" and got all excited about daughter-board audio that I completely missed the antenna. That was one blooper :P Thanks for setting me straight! =D


RE: First to market woes
By bob661 on 5/14/2006 2:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
ASUS' supposedly high-end products have been making shaky first impressions lately
How so? You're not one of those people that thinks if the board can't run 1GHz over stock stably then it's POS, are you? The boards are extremely stable at the manufacturers intended operating range. Shit, I'm still running on the original shipping bios (1002) on my A8N-SLI Deluxe and it's ROCK solid. Couldn't ask for a better board and I was highly skeptical about the stability of Nvidia chipsets when I got this thing.


RE: First to market woes
By Stele on 5/14/2006 10:33:01 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You're not one of those people that thinks if the board can't run 1GHz over stock stably then it's POS, are you?

lol heavens, no, I'm not one of those people. I'm not an overclocker (anymore, anyway) so I don't really mind if a board doesn't overclock well - it's not an important criteria for me in deciding if a board's good. In fact, I've run a variety of brands since the PII days and found Asus boards to be consistently at the top with respect to quality and stability - dramatically highlighted when my Abit KA7 burst its caps all over while my K7V-based system, built at the same time, continued to run - to this day as my backup server! However, over the last year or so Asus have raised an eyebrow or two over occasional initial stumbling blocks and/or design decisions.

Take for example ASUS' latest S939 board, the A8R32-MVP. To quote Anandtech, it had several problems when first reviewed, including:

quote:
...ASUS applications and Creative drivers not playing nice together, a humming turning to whining noise when utilizing certain memory modules, game play lag while online, stuttering in graphic intensive games, random benchmark scores, RAID 5 issues with the ULi SATA controller...

and, if you read the full review at http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2743 you'll find that I specifically left out the overclocking-related problems - which actually constituted just 2 points in that list.

As for design decisions, a good example is probably the fact that Asus stayed with PCI gigabit LAN far longer than they should have. Even when Intel introduced CSA LAN controllers, Asus doggedly stuck to the older interface (even on then-high-end boards like the P4C800) until pressured into releasing a newer version using a newer controller (the P4C800-E).

Even now, after PCIe showed up, Asus lagged behind and went back to PCI GbE controllers again while the competition quickly deployed PCIe-based ones in their products. Of course it can be argued that

1) many if not most users would not even fully saturate a 100Mbps connection (along with the fact that not many users have full GbE networks) so a GbE is generally a marketing plus anyway

2) by using the 3Com 3c920 and Marvell PCI controllers they've been using all along, they are keeping to a tried and tested solution for maximum stability and reliability while letting the lab (and the competition) test the newer stuff until they're sufficiently mature to make the switch.

After searching for and reading up several recent Asus board reviews, it seems that generally the initial problems are teething ones related to early BIOSes that updates later corrected (or should correct). Some problems, like the whine on the A8R32 and audio EMI interference on some other models, seem like design and engineering problems with signal and/or power - a rather more serious issue which required replacement boards to fix if at all possible.

As far as BIOS is concerned, it's a small issue, no doubt, and doesn't affect every single product line (as your own board has shown). It may be present in other brands as well, but it does go back to my comment about how companies may try to rush products out the door just to be first to the market, and how all these may give many the impression that Asus seems like an overpriced, technological laggard that can't even ensure flawless performance out of the box, for its price.

Impressions aside, however, Asus boards remain a force to be reckoned with - and a potent one at that. I eagerly await their AM2 products and the reviews thereof.


minor typo
By johnsonx on 5/12/2006 4:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
K 8 T890




RE: minor typo
By DigitalFreak on 5/12/2006 8:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. Is VIA even relevant anymore in the chipset market?


RE: minor typo
By theprodigalrebel on 5/14/2006 6:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
its pretty big out here in asia for budget computers. the ati/nvidia IGP mobos are pretty rare out here.


RE: minor typo
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 5/13/2006 2:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you, fixed.


Analog Devices
By ceefka on 5/14/2006 3:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
Creamware Audio has been using Analog Devices DSP chips for a long time now. Audio is nothing new to Analog Devices. Funny that a mainstream boardmaker picks them up. Good thing also.




RE: Analog Devices
By Stele on 5/14/2006 10:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Funny that a mainstream boardmaker picks them up.


Actually AD codecs have been in and out of motherboard for many years now. However, over the last 2-3 years, Realtek have been dominating the motherboard AC'97 codec scene - partly (or largely) because, as Anandtech pointed out some time back, they can be had for dirt-cheap prices compared to competing brands.

While I don't know how the AD 19xx stacks up against the ALC88x in terms of performance and quality (documentation on the latest and greatest AD codec is hard to find), the competition should keep both companies on their toes - which is a good thing for us.


it's just time to upgrade
By lethalchronic on 5/15/2006 12:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
I'll admit I'm so far behind in my pc tech that an upgrade of any kind would be great. Now when i say I'm behind I mean as far as what I own, I keep up on all the latest stuff but I've haven't bought anything in awhile (except hard drives, two of my WD drives failed in a few months time, I'm a seagate man now). I'm running on an athlon xp 2500+ barton, 9800 pro, 1gb mushkin ram, and an asus a7n8x deluxe, that's nForce 2 for the people without exceptional memory. I've been itching to upgrade for years but I'm stuck in the upgrade paradox, which I'm sure all of you are familiar with =). And that is the whole, should I upgrade now and be obsolete again in six months or should I wait for the next big thing. God I've been in this cycle for at least a year and a half. This time with AM2 I am GOING TO DO IT. I mean I'll buy the new DDR2 800 RAM and the AM2 CPU, well I'm pretty much buying EVERYTHING NEW, monitor, speakers, keyboard/mouse included. And when (not if) AMD releases then next big thing (K8L as mentioned above) all I'll have to buy is CPU/MOBO again. Unless DDR3 comes up and bites me in the ass, that might sting. Anyway someone give me some input on what you think, and i appreciate those that might try to convert me to the Intel religion but I have what you might call a firm faith in AMD. Don't hate me you Intel fans I'm not dissing you or whatever, I'm actually excited about Conroe too, for the sake of anyone I LAN with that might have OEM computers (ughh). Let me know fellow Daily Tech'ers.




RE: it's just time to upgrade
By asforme on 5/24/2006 1:51:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm in the same situation, I just wish all this went down a month or two ago. The rate the mobo's and cpu's are being released may end up being just a bit too late my birthday. The computer gods must have it out for me. Oh well... work, get paid, buy comptuer parts, repeat.


Lots of hot air.
By NilsE on 5/12/2006 9:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
Is it just me, or are there seven fan headers? :-o
(On a passively cooled chipset, no less...)




Wouldn't touch an Asus mobo with a ten foot pole
By cornfedone on 5/13/06, Rating: 0
By Sh0ckwave on 5/18/2006 9:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, bring on the DFIs


More pictures
By electriple9 on 5/13/2006 1:14:46 AM , Rating: 2
Go here to see more pictures of this board
http://sg.vr-zone.com/?i=3636
Thanks




ESata very usefull
By electriple9 on 5/13/2006 1:17:19 AM , Rating: 2
The reason I think external sata is very usefull is that is faster then the usb, and will give you the exact same speed of the sata drive while being external. I wish Asus would have chosen to make both of the silicon image sata ports external ports, or at least provide us with an adapter.
Thanks




By theprodigalrebel on 5/14/2006 7:01:49 AM , Rating: 2
My money is on a month.




upgrad path
By Artdent on 5/15/2006 2:59:20 PM , Rating: 2
the last Intel chip I had was a 486 DX 66 but If conroe does the business well I'm buying one. I have to change everything for AM2 ie memory graphics mobo cpu so why not back the fastest chip for the things I want to do. I loved AMD getting one over on Intel but that doesn't mean I will buy their product for the rest of my life.




Asus = First & WORST !
By Beenthere on 5/13/06, Rating: -1
RE: Asus = First & WORST !
By RichPLS on 5/13/2006 2:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have an A8R-MVP and a A8R32-MVP deluxe and both are very good Asus boards which do exactly as they state.
Granted, the jr board does not overclock as high as I would like it too, due partly to not enough voltage regulation, but it is a performer none the less.


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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