Thus far, Conroe mobos boasting SLI compatibility have been missing from the performance picture. It seems Nvidia has been holding off on its NForce 5 and 6 chipsets until the release of the G80 GPU. Now the 8800GTS is all systems go, the floodgates appear to have opened.

One of the earliest SLI-for-Conroe boards, The P5N32-SLI from Asus, brings Nvidia's flagship NForce 5 chipset to the land of Intel, and that means Core 2 Duo owners can finally use SLI for some of the best hi-res games performance possible.

The NForce 590 chipset competes with Intel's own top-end 975x core logic on performance, and this particular iteration has better features than most Intel boards.

Feel the NForce

A long feature list gives you three PCI-Express slots, two for an SLI setup, with the third reserved possibly for an as-yet-unannounced Nvidia physics processing card. The rear panel layout is interesting - ancient serial/parallel ports are out while dual gigabit ethernet and E-SATA connectors are in, which better reflects the needs of 21st century computing.

Rear audio output is also missing and instead provided via a separate 7.1 daughterboard, minimising the hiss and crackle of interference.

The two points where this motherboard falls down are its scope for overclocking and the lack of support for quad-core CPUs. There's the usual overclocking presets, but they garner worse results than a 975x-based mobo.

The Premium offers great performance, and one of the only choices for marrying SLI with Core 2 Duo - until the NForce 690 chipset hits. Orestis Bastounis