Asus A8N-SLI FAQ – Configuration
***UPDATE 05/04/2005 - new BIOS and drivers added***
The Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe is one of the first SLI motherboards that made it to the market, with initial availability just before the end of 2004. All the A8N-SLI motherboards that have shipped and are currently shipping, up to this date, are based on the same design and all carry the same rev. 1.02 version number. Despite the motherboard revision number being identical many of these boards ship with a different BIOS. This is one of the biggest problems and cause for many issues across the board as the initial BIOS it shipped with, 1001, lacks many of the improvements found in later BIOS versions. We’ll outline below how to go about making sure a system featuring the A8N-SLI is set up properly starting with picking parts and the simple procedure of upgrading the BIOS to the latest version.
The A8N-SLI is rather picky about what powersupply is used with it, and that’s partly due to the fact it is designed as an ATX 12V v2.0 motherboard, featuring a 24-pin power connecter and dual 12-volt rails coming from the powersupply. Although this recommendation goes for all systems, the A8N-SLI demands you have a good powersupply, the minimum requirement is 400-watts. It doesn’t have to be an ATX 12V v2.0 powersupply per se, nor feature a 24-pin plug, but it needs to be able to supply at least 18-amps of current or 200-watts on the 12-volt rail. Of course there’s a difference between running a single PCIe video card with this motherboard and running two in SLI. Up until two GeForce 6600GTs you can get by with the following powersupplies:
Power supplies tested with a single GeForce 6x00/GT/Ultra or up to 6600GT SLI
- Zalman ZM400B-APS, 400-watts
- Antec TruePower 430, 430-watts
- Tagan TG480-U01, 480-watts
- Enermax Coolergiant EG435AX, 430-watts
- Antec NeoPower 480, 480-watts
- PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 SLI, 510-watts
Power supplies tested with GeForce 6800GT and 6800 Ultra in SLI
- Tagan TG480-U01
- Antec NeoPower 480
- Fortron Source FSP550-60PLN*
- Antec TruePower 550 EPS12V*
- PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 SLI**
**The PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 510 SLI is currently the best PSU for running an SLI configuration or a high-end PC and comes with dual 6-pin PCIe connectors.
The power supplies designated with a * are needed if you want to run the A8N-SLI with an Athlon 64 FX 53 or 55 processor, two GeForce 6800 Ultras and two or more high capacity Serial-Ata drives. However they need to be modified in order to convert the 8-pin 12-volt connector, coming off of the 2nd 12-volt rail to two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, this is a simple procedure that means extracting the pins from the original connector and splitting them out to two 6-pin PCIe connectors. These will be connected to the GeForce 6800 Ultras directly, hence powering them off of their own 12-volt rail within the power supply. From our testing this is the only way to guarantee absolute stability. Take notice that when running SLI the EZ-Plug must also be connected to guarantee stable operation.
Picking other parts isn’t that difficult but we’d recommend to go with an Athlon 64 3500 based on the new 90nm, Winchester, core. This processor offers enough performance to power an entry level, mid-range SLI, or single video card system. If you want the best possibly performance and opt for GeForce 6800GT or Ultra cards in SLI you should pick either an Athlon 64 4000+ or FX 55.
Unless you plan on bleeding edge overclocking, some good, cas 2-2-2-5 DDR400, PC3200, memory will do just fine. Brands that offer excellent memory are OCZ, Crucial
and Corsair. Please stay away from memory featuring led readout or other extras or memory from lesser known manufacturers. We’d recommend a 1GB dual channel kit for this motherboard, regardless of whether you pick an Athlon 64 or Athlon 64 FX processor.
A GeForce 6600GT is a good pick for an entry level system, and a 6800GT or Ultra is a good choice for mid-range. If you want to go the SLI route realize that a system featuring two 6600GTs performs about on par with a 6800GT, but two 6800GTs perform slightly better than a 6800 Ultra. So the obvious choice for SLI would be two 6800GTs or Ultras, otherwise you’re better off with a single 6800GT or Ultra.
Any Serial-Ata harddisk would do fine, we’re pretty fond of Hitachi ourselves and have used up to two 250GB 7K250 discs in RAID and that performed admirably. Make sure these are connected to the NForce 4 chipset RAID controller though. More on that later, in the section about setting your drives up properly.
There are some problems with getting Serial-Ata Divers to work, so I certainly would not go that route. There are no benefits for doing so, other than a small reduction in cable clutter, but that really isn’t worth it. Good DVD/CD/ROM drives are Lite-On and older Toshibas such as the SD-M1802. For a DVDRW we’d pick a NEC 3500A or 3520A.
Upgrading the BIOS
One of the first things to do when you got the motherboard is upgrade the BIOS to the latest non-beta release, which is 1007. The proper way of doing this is by using a floppy drive as a startup disk. You’ll need to have access to a second computer to create the needed startup files, according to the following procedure.
- Download the latest 1007 BIOS and BIOS flash tool here: http://www.asus.com.tw/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=A8...ype=Latest
- Download the BIOS and flash tool under the BIOS section of above mentioned URL.
- In Windows XP go to the floppy drive
- Format with using the option to create a MSDOS startup disk
- Once the disk is created unpack the 1007 BIOS and flash tool to the floppy
- Configure the motherboard with just the memory, processor and heatsink, video card and floppy drive
- Set the SLI selector card to ‘single card’
- Connect the power supply, including the 4-pin 12volt and 6-pin PCIe
- Hit ‘del’ once the system displays the boot screen
- Go to ‘Exit’ menu and select ‘Load Setup Default’
- Then ‘Exit & Save Changes’
- After the reboot the system will boot off the floppy
- Type ‘awdflash 1007.bin’ to start the BIOS update
- Select ‘No’ to save BIOS and ‘Yes’ to update BIOS
- Once completed press ‘F1’ to reset the system
- Power the system off and unplug the power supply from the mains
Configuring the BIOS:
Now connect all your devices and plug in all your other cards. Reconnect the mains to the power supply and power the system up. Press ‘del’ on your keyboard during bootup to get into the BIOS, in the ‘Main’ section first set the proper time, date and language.
- Make sure all your discs and optical drives are listed
- Enabled HDD SMART monitoring
CPU Configuration > DRAM configuration
- Max Memclock (MHz) : DDR400
- All other settings : Auto
If you know the exact timings for your memory modules you can obviously set those manually as well, by leaving these to Auto the motherboard will use the settings as stored in the module’s SPD, hence it should use the proper timings.
- Hyper Transport Frequency : 5x
- AMD K8 Cool ‘n’ Quiet control : Disabled
- Plug & Play O/S : Yes
- Init Display First : PCIEx
- Resources Controlled By : Auto
- PCI/VGA Palette Snoop : Disabled
Onboard Device Configuration > IDE Function Setup
- All settings : Enabled
Onboard Device Configuration > NVRAID Configuration
- RAID Enable : disabled
Obviously you’d set this to ‘Enabled’ and select which disks you’d like to use if you have more than one harddisk you’d like to use with RAID. Keep in mind that RAID only makes sense with identical harddisks each on their own IDE or Serial-Ata channel.
Onboard Device Configuration > USB Configuration
- All settings : Enabled
Onboard Device Configuration
- Onboard NV LAN : Enabled
- Onboard LAN BOOT ROM : Disabled
- Onboard Marvell LAN : Disabled
- AC97 Audio : Disabled
- PCI IEEE 1394a : Disabled
- Silicon Image SATA Controller : Disabled
- Serial Port1 Address : Disabled
- Parallel Port Address : Disabled
- Game Port Address : Disabled
- Midi Port Address : Disabled
Disable all devices you don’t need or plan to use, this frees up extra IRQs and means there’s less device drivers to load creating less system overhead.
- EZ-Plug Warning : Enabled
- SLI mode : set to SLI for SLI, Normal for single video card
- Overclock Profile : Manual
- CPU Frequency : 200.0
- PCI Express Clock : 100MHz
- DDR Voltage : 2.70v
- CPU Multiplier : Auto
- CPU Voltage : Auto
- PCI Clock Sync : 33.33MHz
LAN Cable Status
- POST Check LAN Cable : Disabled
PEG Link Mode
- PEG Link Mode : Disabled
- PEG Root Control : Auto
- PEG Buffer Length : Auto
- Speech IC Reporter : Disabled
- Instant Music : Disabled
- ACPI Suspend Type : S3
- ACPI APIC Support : Enabled
Power > APM Configuration
- Restore on AC Power Loss : Disabled
- PWR Button < 4 secs : Instant-Off
- All other settings : Disabled
Power > Hardware Monitor
- Q-Fan Controller : Disabled
Boot > Boot Settings Configuration
- Case Open Warning : Disabled
- Quick Boot : Enabled
- Boot up Floppy Seek : Disabled
- Bootup Num-Lock : On
- Typematic Rate Setting : Enabled
- Typematic Rate (Chars/Sec) : 30
- Typematic Delay (Msec) : 250
- OS Select For DRAM > 64MB : Non-OS2
- Full Screen LOGO : Disabled
- Halt On : All Errors
Now that the BIOS is set up properly exit and save the changes and let the machine reboot. We’d advice you to do a full install of Windows XP from a bootable Windows XP disk as outlined below.
Installing Windows XP
You can choose to install either Windows XP Home, Professional or Media Center Edition but we’d recommend you stick with Windows XP Professional. Install the operating system and device drivers according to the following sequence, make sure you already have SP2 on a CDR or different media so you can install that right after the installation of Windows XP completes. Do NOT install device drivers or other software before you have updated Windows XP with SP2. If you know how we’d recommend creating a slipstreamed bootable CD with Windows XP and SP2.
- Download SP2 here: http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/6/5/165b076b-aaa9-443...P2-ENU.exe
- 02/05/2005 - Download NVIDIA chipset drivers ver 6.53 here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/nforce_nf4_winxp2k_6.53
- Download NVIDIA ForceWare drivers ver 71.89 WHQL here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/winxp_2k_71.89.html
- Install Windows XP Professional from the bootable CD
- Install SP2
- Install NVIDIA chipset drivers ver. 6.53
- Install NVIDIA Beta ForceWare drivers ver 71.89 WHQL
Once all of these device drivers have been installed you can proceed to install device drivers for any other components you might have. Keep in mind that if you want to make use of SLI the system will detect you have two video cards installed and ask for them to be set in SLI mode and reboot. Once the reboot is completed you need to manually enable multi-GPU rendering in the driver tab of the video card. To do that you need to enable ‘Show Advanced Settings’ in the Performance and Quality settings pane first and scroll down to ‘SLI rendering mode’.
If you're posting questions posted in the thread, be short, to the point and make sure you applied above BIOS settings first and have the drivers and software installed we listed. If not, we cannot help you. This thread will be strictly moderated to keep it as clean and informative as possible.