Overclock.net › Forums › Overclock.net Forum › FAQs › Info: Asus A8N-SLi Motherboard – An Introduction
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Info: Asus A8N-SLi Motherboard – An Introduction

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Asus A8N-SLi Motherboard – An Introduction:

(NOTE: A long read and a living work in progress… )

This is to help you with the initial build and setup of an Asus A8N-SLi motherboard and how to take control of the BIOS to ensure that you can OC, even a little bit. While the screen shots are from a Deluxe model they are applicable for the range, the Premium having a few extra voltage controls, it can even be applied to some of the other A8N MBs as the BIOS options are very similar as is the Asus way of taking manual control of the BIOS.


It is hoped that though this guide you will be able to more quickly get up to speed and to a point where you have control and can OC & tweak more, further squeezing extra performance from the components within your system.


BIOS: 1011 is used throughout these examples and for the latest BIOS check the Asus site – A8N-SLi Deluxe and the A8N-SLi Premium

BIOS Flash:
It is best to flash the BIOS to the lastest version before running up the OS. Assuming you have a floopy drive, make a bootable floppy and then using the file attached at the bottom of this FAQ - extract the files and copy across to the floppy disk (This has the Awdflash and BIOS 1014 included).

Boot the system and when prompted to save the BIOS select No as there is not enough room to place a backup copy of the existing BIOS onto the floppy disk, then select Yes to proceed.

If you have Windows installed then you can use this FAQ here for updating (98SonomaMan)

NOTE: If using BIOS 1013 or later then you must use the nVidia Chipset drivers 6.65 or later for stability.


CPU: This example shows an AMD A64 3500+ Newcastle CPU which runs stock @ 2.2 Ghz and has a multi of x11 and we will show how to provide a small OC to 2.475 Ghz – a 12.5% increase extra speed all for free


Memory: The memory used in these examples are GeIL Ultra-X PC3200 2-2-2-5, these turned out to be UTT and so require high DRAM voltage (Vdimm) to get the best from them. As the Asus MB is limited to 3.0v, the OC is reduced. This is why you need to clearly know what memory you have or are considering for use in this MB – recommended would be good TCCx type modules which can run high FSB at a low Vdimm – 2.65-2.85v.

Tasks:
- Know what the CPU type you have and the max multi it can operate at
- Find out what chips your memory modules are using and what Vdimm are required to keep good timings.
- Work out what is the highest FSB the MB can support
- Run Memtest and Prime at Stock settings this way you know that you have a stable system from which to start with – you cannot OC a system that is not already stable.

Memorise all these, as together they will allow you the options to find the sweet spot of your system.

Tools:
You will need or at least be able to access the following utilities to make life easier. (Will fix links and add extra tools once approved)

Memtest+ 1.65 .iso here to test your memory and timing changes before running the OS.
ImageShack Imageshack to host your images and screenshots for pics of your success.
CPUz latest version for checking CPU / Memory Speeds
A64 Tweaker v0.60 beta
ClockGen nF4
Prime95 or Similar prettier Prime tool
Super PI mod 1.4 (Thanks to Transonic)
OCCT
CPUz

FAQs:
Find the Limits of your CPU, Mem, MB
HDD Database for comparing drives and configurations
CPC 1T vs 2T Timing – Any difference?



PSU & Power Connections:
It is recommended that you have a PSU with a minimum of 480W and 26A on the +12V rail for a single card and 36A if running dual GPUs. The PSU should have a native 24-pin Main Power connector – this does not mean a 20-pin with an adaptor but one that complies with the ATX12V v2.0 spec. (Yes there are people who run 20-pin but we are not here to debate this just follow the Asus specifications).

The PSU is often overlooked and will strike just when you want to push that OC harder, better to get the right one up front and one that will last a few upgrades because you WILL add something extra to drive off it – a few more fans, cold cathode lights, an H2O system, an extra GPU or more Hard Drives.

The MB has three (3) power connections – 24-pin Main, 4-pin ATX12V and a Molex, while the manual suggests that this is only required for dual GPU’s it is recommended that it is connected to ensure all parts of the MB are supplied power… after all the designers place it there for a reason and it maybe that they use some of it even without a 2nd GPU

A8N-SLi Deluxe MB




Hard Drives and SATA Ports:
The nVidia controller is recommended for all SATA hard drive connections, be this a single drive or a RAID array configuration as it sits on the PCIe bus and supports SATA II drives plus outperforms the Sillicon SATA I controller which is PCI bound. The trend towards using SATA drives is more prevalent and there are performance gains to be had over using PATA or IDE/EIDE drives and they are also more flexible and easier to connect due to the use a narrow bus cable.

Now, there is general concern that SATA drives will drop off or stop working if you OC to high FSB (> 300Mhz or DDR600) but thankfully this is not valid as the nVidia controller is locked and unaffected by such high FSB, it will come down to other components which may require stabilising by voltage and/or timings.

At one point I was also one who thought that this was an issue and went through a whole set of testing of PATA vs SATA drive configurations running at high FSB’s (305-330). Initially, it did fail with frequent BSOD’s but this happened not only for the SATA drives but also the PATA drives. The fix was CPU and Memory timings and voltage changes and now they work at any FSB the system is able to deliver. So it will be best to look at your BIOS configuration before changing out any hard drives.


RAID and Loading the OS:
RAID arrays are common practice now and even easier to setup and use with the onboard controllers of current motherboards. There are many descriptions of RAID available and is worthy of its own thread, so we won’t get into the details here.

For this example there are two hard drives placed in a RAID-0 array, which is actually not really a RAID as there is no redundancy but rather a set of striped disks. It is by far the fastest configuration for any set of drives and with this brings with it the added performance in reads and writes of files. (See the HDD Database for comparisons). For those who fear that a failure of such an array will lose your data, you are right but just the same loss as if your single drive failed – When did you last back-up your valuable data?

These briefly show what is required to enable the nVidia controller to run a RAID array, enabling the separate controller BIOS. On here you assign the Drives to be used, array type and stripe size. For optimum performance try to keep the array Stripe to OS Cluster size at a ratio of 4:1.

Find the XP OS RAID drivers attached at the end of this FAQ.

[BIOS RAID Screens]


[BIOS Boot Screens]




BIOS Settings:
As with any MB the BIOS is the key to taking control and ensuring that the MB does what you require. Unfortunately the Asus MB has some idiosyncrasies which will cause you frustration and confusion as you will see later on.

Below are some example screen shots which outline some of the devices or settings that help keep the MB running without unnecessary CPU interrupts or the OS loading drivers which will not be used. Of course you will need to apply those which are applicable to your system.

[BIOS Misc. Device Screens]


Adv - Onboard Devices

IDE Function Setup
IDE Channel (disable channels not in use - ie no CD Drives connected

USB Config
USB Controller : Disabled (if not using any USB devices)
USB Legacy Support : Disabled (If all USB devices are V2.0)

Disable the Ethernet ports not in Use : NV Lan and / or Marvell Lan

PCI IEEE 1394a : Disable
Serial Port1 Addr : Disable
Parallel Port Addr : Disable
Game Port : Disable
Midi Port : Disable



OC Settings:
Now that you have finally made it to this point you should be ready to start and OC your system. It is important that you become familiar with these BIOS screens and how they interact as Asus has split the various timings and CPU settings across a number of screens which does not help when you are first getting to grips with it.

Plus there are settings which if changed or set back to Auto will change other settings elsewhere, which is why when you think that you have set it all right and about to F10 to save.. just double check to make sure they are all as per what you are trying out.

[BIOS OC Setting Screens]


The following is an example for the 3500+ NC & GeIL Ultra-X UTT memory so you will need to apply the changes for Now the key settings which will allow you to OC are as follows:

ADV - CPU Config
Hyper Transport (HTT) : x3 (leave this for at x3 for all testing as it will cover you from DDR400-600)
Coo'n'quiet : Disabled

DRAM Config
Set Max Mem : DDR400 (Do not set Max Mem to > DDR400 as this will reset other timings and settings to AUTO elsewhere which will stop your OC)
1T/2T timing : 2T (Asus defaults to 2T and has trouble running over 240 at 1T, there is little real world difference)

Now set the CAS timing and again leave these for all remaining testing

CAS : 2
Trcd : 2
Tras : 5
Trp : 2

JumperFree Config
OverClock Profile : Manual
PCI Express : 100Mhz
PCI : 33Mhz
DDR Voltage : 3.0v (Typically set this to the Max rating of your modules, you can then drop it back later)

The
next ones are the ones that you will need to be changing as you go up in the OC.

CPU Freq : 225 (FSB)
CPU Multi : x11
CPU voltage: 1.525v


MB Volt Mod - see here : thanks to Maxmax22

Memtest:

For any change it is recommended that you use Memtest to check if this configuration is stable.

Some quick checks using this tool are:

Get your Memtest CD - make sure CD boot is prior to HDD in BIOS.

Boot system with CD in drive - Memtest should auto run and for 10-20 loops make sure that these key tests are OK – 5, 6, 8

Once running, to select Test #5

Type C 1 3 5 <enter> <enter>

Now Memtest will loop in Test #6

And for Test #6

Type C 1 3 6 <enter> <enter>


Now Memtest will loop in Test #8 (20 loops best)

And for Test #8

Type C 1 3 6 <enter> <enter>


If you get errors in any of these tests you will need to recheck you BIOS settings, timings and / or voltages. There is no silver bullet here as each system is different and will react & perform differently – time and patience is required


Memory Dividers:
As you will now know the use of memory dividers becomes important when getting the maximum out of your system. This maybe because the CPU can go higher in Mhz and you need to keep the memory from going over its max limit.

Unlike other MB’s the Asus does not directly have what is seen as a memory divider where you see ratios of 5:6 or 9:10. Instead to get your memory onto an equivalent divider you need to set Max Mem to a lower DDR value, this will effectively place the memory onto a divider.

Eg:
Set Max Mem : DDR333

GOOD LUCK

PSU Recommendations:
Here are some good PSUs to consider for the A8N Motherboards and there are others of course – search the Forum to find them

OCZ 520 Modstream +3.3V(28A), +5V(52A), +12V(28A)
OCZ 520 PowerStream 3.3V@28A, +5V@40A, +12V@33A
Antec SP 500 +3.3V@32A, +5V@35A, +12V1@17A, +12V2@19A, -12V@0.3A, +5VSB@2A
Fortron Blue +3.3V@30A, +5V@28A, +12V1@15A, +12V2@15A, -12V@0.5A, +5Vsb@2.0A
Topower 550 (an OCZ)
Enermax 535
Antec 550
Seasonic 500 +12V1@17A, +12V2@16A
Seasonic 600 +12V1@18A, +12V2@18A : SLi Certified
Enermax 600
OCZ 600 +3.3V@28A, +5V@46A, +12V1@20A, +12V2@20A, -5V@0.5A, -12V@0.5A, +5VSB@2A
PC Power 510 +12V @ 34A, 38A pk : SLi Certified
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 17
Great FAQ! Explains almost everything about configuring with lots of detail.
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardOSMonitor
3700 ClawHammer DFI NF4X Infinity Windows XP pro SP2 Env!sion 17&quot; crt 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
crappy HP keyboard Aspire 520 + micro 193 Scorpio 868 Highly Modded Logitech mx310 :) 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardOSMonitor
3700 ClawHammer DFI NF4X Infinity Windows XP pro SP2 Env!sion 17&quot; crt 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
crappy HP keyboard Aspire 520 + micro 193 Scorpio 868 Highly Modded Logitech mx310 :) 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 17
awesome dude!!!!
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
T5200 Intel 945 Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 2GB DDR2 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
WD 160GB SATA Multiformat Double Layer DVD RW Windows Vista Home Premium 15.4" Ultra Bright WXGA TFT/WestingHouse 22" LCD 
KeyboardCaseMouse
Dynex Gateway Dynex 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
T5200 Intel 945 Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 2GB DDR2 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
WD 160GB SATA Multiformat Double Layer DVD RW Windows Vista Home Premium 15.4" Ultra Bright WXGA TFT/WestingHouse 22" LCD 
KeyboardCaseMouse
Dynex Gateway Dynex 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks - Updated links for tools : cheers
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Updated with some PSU Options
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 17
The Antec 550 is SLI certified as well.
Elite
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
IBM PPC Triple core @ 3.2GHz Custom ATi Xenos 10MB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
120GB DVD ROM XBox 360 Dashboard Dell 24&quot; 2405FPW 
PowerCase
Big Honkin One Black 
  hide details  
Reply
Elite
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
IBM PPC Triple core @ 3.2GHz Custom ATi Xenos 10MB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
120GB DVD ROM XBox 360 Dashboard Dell 24&quot; 2405FPW 
PowerCase
Big Honkin One Black 
  hide details  
Reply
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Updated:

Added Antec SLi Status - Chim3ra
Added initial BIOS FLash, BIOS & Flash tool in zip file plus link to 98SonomaMan's FAQ for Windows flashing.
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Added SATA nVidia & Sillicon drivers
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
post #9 of 17
wow, great job. It looks like you have taken a lot of time writing this
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Added - BIOS 1014 as a separate file and updated the BIOS.zip file to include this version with the Autoexec.bat modified.

Also added Beta 1015-005 BIOS.

Do note that you must use nVidia Chipset drives 6.65 or later with these newer BIOS versions.
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
OS X 10.6.4
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Mac Mini Mac Mini Server 2011 Intel HD3000 8Gb 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Internal drives None OS X / W7 x64 Dell U3011 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Apple Wireless & Wired Internal Mini brick Magic 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: FAQs
Overclock.net › Forums › Overclock.net Forum › FAQs › Info: Asus A8N-SLi Motherboard – An Introduction