Asus P5N-E SLI Review (Page 11 of 11)

Page 11 - Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion

The integrated audio subsystem of the Asus P5N-E SLI is based on the Realtek ALC883 and offers 6-channel output, as mentioned earlier. The ADI 1988B offered on higher end Asus boards such as the P5W64-WS Professional offers much better EAX audio performance, but notice I said higher end -- meaning, you got to pay a huge price premium. And for that price premium, you can certainly spend on a dedicated sound card if that's what you are looking for.

There's a single coaxial out on this board, but let's talk about the analog aspect. There are three 3.5mm jacks as I mentioned on page 3 -- meaning if you need 5.1 sound over an analog connection, you will lose the line in and microphone jack -- posing an inconvenience for certain users.

As usual, integrated sound is acceptable, but certainly not spectacular. By default, you can hear there's a large emphasis on the lower frequencies whereas losing details on the higher frequencies -- creating less balance. You probably won't expect some very clean sound audio from analog integrated out as well. But, it's acceptable and great for most users -- as long as you are not going to use 5.1 analog and a mic all at the same time.

Now this is where it gets tricky. The maximum overclock I got on this motherboard is a joke. Not that this motherboard is a joke, is because my result is going to be a joke among everyone, haha.

Let me explain what I was doing before you giggle. Shh. Quiet! Don't say anything just yet.

The main problem I experienced with this motherboard is during overclocking, the biggest bottleneck is not my CPU -- I've reached 2.94GHz on the abit AB9-Pro (That was when I was newer to Core 2 Duo overclocking, and I must also mention that I don't think my chip is really that overclockable). Anyway, at 1.30V, I reached 2.84GHz. Higher voltages would cause my NVIDIA 650i Northbridge to run way too hot, causing random system lockups during stability stress testing. If I did not put that Noctua 80mm fan under the Northbridge to draw air over it, I couldn't even get past 1450MHz QFSB (2.54GHz CPU clock). What this means to you is that, you will need either a case with absolutely incredible airflow -- something similar to a wind tunnel -- or a much better Northbridge heatsink. Or maybe a combination of both haha.

What I am trying to say is that high overclocks are possible -- I've seen it myself. But the overheating Northbridge, so hot that it can literally give you skin burns, will be severely limiting your overclock once you raise that front side bus and core voltage. The NF430 Southbridge is absolutely bare; you might want to consider cooling for that part as well. I don't understand why Asus did not implement a better cooling solution on this motherboard, because, I know this is the second time I said it, is completely unacceptable once the enthusiast crowd gets their hands on it.

Another thing I want to mention in regards to the Asus P5N-E SLI is stability. On certain reboots, the board shows up nothing on screen until I power it down and turn the system back on again. In other times, after an unsuccessful overclock, the system will refuse to boot until sometime later. I later found out that there are two things that contribute to this factor. Firstly, overheating Northbridge -- if it gets way too hot, it will need some time to cool off before it works again. A big factor is the yellow RAM slots. They cause so much trouble, I don't even want to get into the details. Stick with the black RAM slots, and life is much, much better. In fact, the majority of odd problems went away and stability was greatly improved afterwards!

It seems that there are many pros -- and cons -- to this board, so since I assume that I have made my point in regards to the cons very clear, I want to also highlight the positive aspects of this board. Yes, don't get me wrong, there are many positive aspects of this board, and I apologize if I emphasized the negatives too much.

Firstly, It's an SLI board -- with a handful of features found on high end boards now available on the Asus P5N-E SLI. The price to feature ratio is by no doubt excellent; with an enthusiast welcomed array of overclocking and tweaking features in the BIOS, it's really not bad at all. The performance is incredible for a mainstream product, and I found the board layout to be almost perfect with exception to the floppy connector oddly located at the bottom. Maybe just that few more minor things you can complain about in terms of layout, but it should be nothing too major that I've highlighted earlier.

I've heard many great things about overclocking capabilities of the Asus P5N-E SLI, and while mine did not exactly disappoint me, if you were to purchase the Asus P5N-E SLI -- I would definitely recommend an aftermarket cooler to replace the stock Northbridge cooler, as well as adding a heatsink to the Southbridge. 2 of the 4 RAM slots are not stable, so don't expect to use 4 memory modules on this motherboard. Therefore, to conclude, in future revisions of this motherboard, I want to see Asus implementing a better Northbridge cooler (Preferably heatpipes) as well as a Southbridge heatsink. And make sure all 4 RAM slots are actually usable!

Special thanks to Charlton over at Asus for making this review possible.

Rating: 6.8/10 | APH equal.balance
- The rating 6/10 means "A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing".
- The rating 7/10 means "Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing".
- More information in our Review Focus.

You know, this is actually not a bad motherboard at all. I enjoyed this motherboard and would have loved to give it a much higher score -- so just fix those unstable RAM slots, and put in a better Northbridge cooler, and it will wow us all in no time!

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Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout
4. Test System; Benchmark: 3DMark06
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: Cinebench 9.5, SuperPI 1M
7. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
8. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
9. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
10. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory Latency, HDTach
11. Onboard Sound, Overclocking, Conclusion