For a platform and CPU that were almost invisible before their May 23rd launch, AM2 and the supporting AM2 chipsets are proving to be remarkably mature. Part 1 and Part 2 of our AM2 roundup examined four AM2 motherboards based on the nForce 500 family of chipsets. Three were based on the top-end 590 SLI chipset and one was based on the mainstream 570 SLI chipset. Part 3 looks at two of the most exciting nForce 500 motherboards that have been evaluated - the readily available top-end ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe and the mainstream Epox MF570SLI.


The ASUS M2N32-SLI was quickly out the door as the Reference Board supplied by AMD for the AM2 launch. CPU manufacturers are always careful about Reference Boards and AMD's confidence in the ASUS AM2 platform speaks highly of the board's stability and performance. Our review here is based on the full retail version of the M2N32-SLI Deluxe, complete with on-board wireless 802.11 b/g and dual-Gigabit LAN ports that can be "teamed" to create a 2Gb port. The review board is currently available at many on-line e-tailers and local computer shops. For more information on pricing and availability of the M2N32-SLI Deluxe please refer to the just-published Price Guide, June 2006: Motherboards


Just below the nForce 590 for AM2 is the single X16/dual X8 nForce 570 SLI. The 570 SLI uses the same new 590 chip as the top-end chipset, but it does not supply the second SPP chip for the additional X16 PCIe support.

nForce 500 Specifications
  NVIDIA nForce
590 SLI
NVIDIA nForce
570 SLI
NVIDIA nForce
570 Ultra
NVIDIA nForce 550
Segment Enthusiast SLI
(2 X16)
Performance SLI
(2 X8)
Performance Mainstream
CPU Suggestion Athlon 64 FX
Athlon 64 X2
Athlon 64
Athlon 64 FX
Athlon 64 X2
Athlon 64
Athlon 64 FX
Athlon 64 X2
Athlon 64
Athlon 64
Sempron
SLI Technology Yes Yes No No
NVIDIA LinkBoost Yes No No No
NVIDIA FirstPacket Yes Yes Yes No
NVIDIA DualNet Yes Yes Yes No
Gigabit Connections 2 2 2 1
Teaming Yes Yes Yes No
TCP/IP Acceleration Yes Yes Yes No
MediaShield Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA / PATA Drives 6 SATA
2 PATA
6 SATA
2 PATA
6 SATA
2 PATA
4 SATA
2 PATA
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1
NVIDIA nTune 5 Yes Yes Yes Yes
PCI Express Lanes 46 28 20 20
Links 9 6 5 5
USB Ports 10 10 10 10
PCI Slots Supported 5 5 5 5
Audio Azalia Azalia Azalia Azalia

570 SLI also does not support all the NVIDIA auto-overclocking features like LinkBoost as you can see in the above chart. 570 is clearly a mainstream part, but performance should be at the same level as nForce 590. The most important distinction is support for dual X16 PCIe on 590 versus support for dual X8 PCIe on 570 SLI. For more information and a detailed comparison of the nForce 500 family chipsets please refer to nForce 500: nForce4 on Steroids?

The Epox MF570SLI is based on this mainstream 570 SLI chipset. You will see in the review of this board that you can still find an incredibly well-appointed board with almost every overclocking option you can imagine in a mainstream-priced board.

ASUS: Features & Board Layout
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  • Missing Ghost - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    yep the choice of I/O ports on the back panel is pretty poor Reply
  • Larso - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    Perhaps someone should clarify this for me. I have been noticing how there is a growing interest in how the motherboard makers have done the power conversion for the CPU. Why has this become an issue to investigate?

    I don't think there was a similar focus on the power converters for the netburst chips, which I believe soaked a lot more juice than these AMD chips. I believe they managed to deliver stable power to the netbursts without needing an 8 phase converter cooled by heatpipes??

    I'm fearing that the motherboard producers will start to create extravagant and foolishly designed converters to please the reviewers. I believe there is no good reason to go for an 8 phase design, when a 4 phase would do the job, considering the money that can be spend on each phase. And that ASUS need to cool the converter by heatpipe seems to indicate that the convertion have a bad effeciency, is this really a step forward?

    I really enjoy reading more about the technical solutions on the motherboards, but it just seems to me that the power converter should be less of an issue now, than with the power hungry netburts?
    Reply
  • Operandi - Friday, June 30, 2006 - link

    A 8 phase design is more efficient then a 4 phase, not less. Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    It seems to me that the heatpipes are more for cooling the chipset in fact. Reply
  • erwos - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    What WiFi chipset does it use? "It has WiFi" is not terribly precise.

    -Erwos
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    The WiFi chip used on the Asus WiFi module is Realtek RTL8187L. The Features have been updated to reflect this. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    Asus refers to the Wi-Fi in specifications as "WiFi Home USB wireless module supporting IEE 802.11 b/g". There is no mention at all of the supporting chip. The module is attached to the motherboard and the chip is loacated behind heatpipes. We can't read the model number, but the logo is clearly Realtek. Reply
  • highlnder69 - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    On page 8 under Half Life 2 - SLI Gaming Performance, I think that the Asus Single/SLI results are labeled incorrectly. It's currently showing the Single card configuration with the highest FPS results and the SLI with the lowest. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    You are correct, the labels were reversed. They are now corrected. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    Someone needs to teach the idiots at Asus about how to design the proper motherboard layout. With an SLI setup with dual width cards, there's no PCI-E slots available. Reply

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