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Asus A7N8X nForce2-SPP Motherboard Review

Asus A7N8X nForce2-SPP Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Asus have been producing motherboards, videocards, and countless other OEM components since 1989, and today we're going to be examining the Asus A7N8X nForce2 SPP.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Asus Feb 14 2003   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Asus A7N8X nForce2-SPP

Heatsink Clearances and Overclocking

Curiously, Asus have chosen to use some pink thermal interface material instead of silicon based thermal paste below the passive northbridge heatsink. Under normal circumstances this is a sufficient thermal material to use, but since BGA chipsets are rarely if ever flat, problems can quickly arise.

For example, we removed the passive northbridge heatsink with a little bit of force (indicating that the TIM had apparently made a good seal between the nForce2 BGA chipset and the aluminum) only to find that about 70% of the NF2 was not in direct contact with the heatsink TIM.

On closer inspection it seems as though the metal heatspreader in the Nforce2 is slightly lower than the rest of the package. Thus, as the heastink was applied, the outer plastic rim kept most of the TIM from coming in contact with the NF2 chipset. Since the nForce2 does generate quite a bit of for those users who are using the A7N8X and want to hit high FSB's, remove the pad and put some paste on there!

The AMD AthlonXP is a toasty chip, so many of our readers like to know what's the largest heatsink that they can slap on, or in some cases bolt on to the motherboard.

Since AMD doesn't currently use any standardized heatsink retention mechanism there is a lot more freedom in terms of the overall size an Athlon heatsink can take. Throw in the mixed layouts of many different mainboards and you have a problem on your hand. Not all AMD heatsinks will fit cleanly on all AMD motherboards, especially if the heatsink is large, or requires the use of now obsolete mounting holes.

PCStats Heatsink Clearance Measurements
Top Clearance: 7 mm
Bottom (cam) Clearance: 11 mm
Left Side (arm) Clearance: 28 mm
Right Side Clearance 25 mm
Socket Mounting Holes: 5 mm Ă˜dia
Max. Heatsink Base Dimensions: ~107x80 mm

Note: Approx. measurements are made from the edge of the socket (not the clips) to the closest obstacle taller than the ZIF socket itself.
The socket is 51mm across, and 62mm from top to bottom.

The Asus A7N8X is one of the roomier motherboards out there on the market, you will have absolutely no problems installing the larger heatsinks such as the Alpha PAL8045!

Update:
It has come to my attention that the Thermalright SLK-900 does not fit on the A7N8X. It's because the top fins are too wide and hit the capacitors/Northbridge heatsink.

Overclocking is fun!

Because Asus try to cater towards everyone, they have never really produced any "awesome" overclocking motherboards. However we heard quite a few good things about the A7N8X from a few folks in the PCStats forums, so we had some high hopes.

We first flashed the board with the latest 1002 BIOS to gain access to multiplier controls, but for some reason the multiplier settings on the A7N8X didn't seem to hold very well. Sometimes the board would keep the multiplier we selected, sometimes it would boot with the default multiplier and this made testing quite difficult! After a bit of frustration, we decided to forget about multiplier settings and just started to raise the FSB.

Starting at 166 MHz, we began to go up slowly with the AthloXP 3000+ processor. At 175 MHz, we had to increase the CPU core voltage to 1.75V to help stabilize things. At 183 MHz we had to raise the core voltage yet again, this time to 1.85V to keep things going. In the end, anything higher then 187 MHz FSB and our system would crash back to desktop in 3DMark, and no matter what memory timings we tried, nothing helped.

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Contents of Article: Asus A7N8X nForce2-SPP
 Pg 1.  Asus A7N8X nForce2-SPP Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Heatsink Clearances and Overclocking
 Pg 3.  The Asus BIOS
 Pg 4.  System Spec's and Benchmarks
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Winstone2002, Winbench99
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Sandra 2003, PCMark2002
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001SE, 3DMark03
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Q3, UT2003
 Pg 9.  Final words on the Asus A7N8X

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