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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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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
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

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