If Asustek seem to be producing a confusing quantity of nForce 6 series products right now, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Although the Striker Extreme was incredibly feature rich, it is also seriously expensive, giving reason for many to look elsewhere for their Core 2 plus SLI experience.
The P5N32-E SLI Plus was released in relative incognito, in what seemed like Asus were trying to keep it under the radar. Why? Asus were using combinations of components from NVIDIA to create a cheaper, Frankenstein motherboard that uses an nForce 650i SLI northbridge paired with an nForce 590 SLI MCP southbridge used on AMD boards?
Asus is one of the few companies big enough, with enough purchasing and selling weight to actually make this feasible, which in contrary to normal market mechanisms actually benefits the consumer more by increasing choice.
Naturally, as a far cheaper alternative to the Striker, Asus has cut down on the frilly extras to provide a raw product. Of course, we found out if eau naturelle and a bolt of electricity provides a pleasurable experience. Oh yeah, and we tested the motherboard as well.
Asus P5N32-E SLI Plus Features
Support for all Intel LGA775 processors, including Pentium 4, Pentium D, Pentium Extreme Edition, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme;
Support for up to 8GB of DDR2-533, DDR2-667 or DDR2-800MHz memory, with additional support for NVIDIA SLI-Ready Memory up to 1200MHz;
Two PCI-Express x16 slots for SLI (blue, running at x16) and one PCI-Express x16 slot (white, running at x8), one PCI-Express x1 slot and two PCI slots;
Asus SupremeFX Audio Card with 7.1 channel support via ADI1988B HD Audio codec, complete with jack sensing, multi-streaming, jack-retasking and noise filter, along with co-axial and optical S/PDIF out ports;
Dual Gigabit Ethernet PHY via a pair of PCI-Express based Marvell 88E1116-NNC1 network controllers;
Six native SATA 3Gbps ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD;
Support for ten USB 2.0 ports (four on rear I/O panel, six via on-board pins/expansion brackets);
Two IEEE1394a Firewire ports (one on rear I/O panel, one via on-board pins/expansion brackets);
One ATA133 connector and one floppy connector.
Four red SATA cables;
Two molex to four SATA cables;
Two USB 2.0 port PCI backplate;
One 6-pin Firewire port PCI backplate;
One black IDE cable;
One black floppy cable;
Driver CD and manual;
The compliment of extras is a bit thin, Asus giving you only four out of six SATA cables and only two extra USB ports out of the available six on-board. Considering SATA hard drive connectors have been on PSUs for at least three years, substituting the power connectors for SATA cables would have been a plus. Also, the Firewire and USB backplates are separate but could have easily been included on the same one saving PCI space. Whilst it’s unmistakably bare compared to the Striker bundle, the package fits the bill reasonably well, especially considering the "budget" orientation of the board. However, other products around a similar price do offer more comprehensive packages.