Asus is the first motherboard manufacturer to release a product based on NVIDIA's nForce 500-series chipsets for Intel's Core 2 Duo processors. The P5NSLI uses the mainstream nForce 570 SLI chipset that inherets almost exactly the same feature set as the AMD variant. However, since Intel CPUs don't contain an on-die memory controller, the nForce 570 SLI Intel Edition chipset incorporates a DDR2 memory controller in the northbridge.
The P5NSLI is the very basic model in Asus' range of SLI-ready motherboards supporting Intel's Core 2 Duo processors and it comes with an attractive price and a feature set that reflects the low price. But does budget equate to being no good though? We dive in to find out.
Support for all Intel Socket 775 Processors, including Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme, Pentium 4, Pentium 4 XE, Pentium D and Celeron D;
Four DDR2 memory slots supporting up to 16GB of DDR2-667 memory;
NVIDIA C19 SLI Northbridge and MCP51 southbridge;
Gigabit Ethernet provided by the Marvell 88E8001 PCI Gigabit controller;
Two PCI-Express x16 slots (that either operate in x16 and x1 or x8 and x8), two PCI-Express x1 slot and two PCI expansion slots;
Six channel ADI SoundMAX ADI1986AB High Definition audio codec with jack sensing and co-axial S/PDIF Out;
Four SATA 3Gbps ports and two IDE ports supporting 4 devices, all supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD;
Support for eight USB 2.0 ports (four on back I/O panel and four via on-board pins, two used by ASUS WiFi-AP module);
One floppy connector.
SLI bridge (ribbon type);
Rear I/O Shield;
Two IDE cables (one ATA133 and one ATAPI);
One floppy cable;
Two USB 2.0 port PCI bracket;
Two SATA and two molex to SATA power adapter cables;
Driver CD and Manual;
And that's it. Not that you'd expect a comprehensive list in a budget box but at least you do get enough to get you going. Asus saves money by not including cables for everything it offers on the board, and people upgrading will probably have some of their old kit left over already. If people are buying from new then they won't be buying this board and enough kit to fill every single port from the get-go without having the money to throw on a few more cheap cables.
It's not that easy to find extra USB 2.0 PCI brackets, but quite a few cases these days have front USB 2.0 ports so two pin-outs on the board could be used by the USB PCI bracket and the other two to the front of the case, or an internal USB peripheral like a 'million in one' 3.5" card reader. There is no PCI bracket to support the SLI bridge; this comes as no surprise, since Asus uses a ribbon cable 'soft' SLI bridge. As long as the cards are secured in the case, there's no need to worry about needing extra support.