The board is dominated by the large heatpipe that cools the North Bridge, South Bridge and some of the PWM regulators located next to the CPU socket. We didn't have any issues with the placement of components - the connectors are all close to the edge of the motherboard, meaning that there is very little need to stretch cables across the board.
This is an improvement over the A8N-SLI Deluxe, which had a power connector located right next to the far end of the top PCI-Express x16 slot. ASUS recommended that the power connector was used when running two video cards in SLI mode. This meant that a cable had to be routed across the board when running SLI - it looked a little untidy and cumbersome and we're glad that they've changed this with the A8N32-SLI Deluxe.
On the A8N32-SLI Deluxe, the 24-pin ATX power connector is located next to the memory slots and is joined by the EZ-plug, which has been moved to an area that is much more accessible. The 4-pin 12v plug is located next to the 8-phase power circuitry that is partially cooled by the dominant heatpipe solution, while the PWM regulators along the top of the board are cooled by an ASUS branded aluminium heatsink.
The area around the CPU socket is a little hindered, in that there's only one way you can put your heatsink/fan on. Normally, you have the option to choose which way you want the heatsink to be installed to ease cable management, but the heatpipe solution hinders this slightly. Our heatsink would only fit on the board in one way. Despite this, heatsinks that were designed according to AMD's heatsink specification will not have a problem being fitted to this motherboard.
The memory slots are coloured according to memory channel and it was possible to populate the motherboard with four DIMMs in dual channel at 400MHz 2.0-2-2-7 using the slower 2T command rate memory timing. With only two DIMMs, we were able to run the board just fine in dual channel with a command rate of 1T.
The CPU fan header is located on the edge of the board next to the memory slot closest to the CPU socket, while there's a fan header labelled PWR_FAN
just to the right of the floppy drive connector. Interestingly, ASUS has decided to have one of the IDE connectors rotated 90 degrees so that it runs parallel with the motherboard instead of the more conventional perpendicular attachment to the board. In the past, this has proven to help with cable management a little, but it would have been nice to see both IDE connectors rotated the same way.
The 3.0Gbps SATA ports are located next to the blue primary IDE connector, and are sandwiched between two more fan headers. While on the subject of disk drive connectivity, there is another SATA port located next to the back I/O panel. This is powered by the Sil3132 3.0Gbps SATA controller. There is also another E-SATA port located on the back I/O panel - we'll come to that in due course.