The retail version of M2N32-SLI Deluxe has been beefed up quite a bit in comparison to NVIDIA's reference vanilla nForce 590 SLI design (which itself was far from being plain). Third party controllers that you'd find on the M2N32-SLI Deluxe include two Marvell 88E1116 PHYs used to support the chipset's dual Gigabit MACs, a standard 2-port Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A FireWire-400 controller and ADI's AD1988 HD Audio CODEC. The audio component is not something we usually see these days, but the SoundMAX CODEC provides DTS Connect functionality through S/PDIF and ASUS even throws in a microphone array setup.
ASUS has never known to skimp on their high-end boards and the M2N32-SLI Deluxe is no different. As if two native Gigabit LANs and six SATA 3.0Gbps connections are not enough, the M2N32-SLI Deluxe features a secondary PCI Express SATA 3.0Gbps controller (Silicon Image SiI3132) to provide the board with exclusive eSATA ports, though we can't say we care very much for where it is located. The Wireless Edition will also be bundled with an exclusive 54Mbps IEEE 802.11g WiFi-AP Solo component allowing the board to serve as a wireless hub or an Access Point for your home network.
What makes the M2N32-SLI Deluxe a step apart from its competitors however, is its cooling and power components. Just like its Socket-939 A8N32-SLI Deluxe counterpart, the M2N32-SLI Deluxe is also fitted with an 8-phase power design, contributing to cleaner and more stable power to the CPU with an extra side effect of lowering heat output. Stack Cool 2 remains a standard feature so there's nothing new there, but the board sports an elaborate 4-part heat-pipe that is even more impressive than the one found on the older A8N32-SLI Deluxe. This time, the system is more highly integrated with two radiators cooling the heat-pipes. Considering how hot the nForce 590 SLI runs, it is a good thing that ASUS took such a serious view on motherboard cooling.
For a motherboard with such a wealth of features, the M2N32-SLI Deluxe actually has a very decent PCB layout design. However, ASUS doesn't get off the hook completely though. Because of its large heat-pipe construction, the board sacrifices on some expansion capabilities. Thankfully, the board is more compatible the variety of PCI add-on cards today.
In order for the heat-pipe to work optimally, the radiator must be above the heatsink block for proper evaporation and condensation of the cooling liquid to take place. Thus, there are some considerations to take when installing the M2N32-SLI Deluxe. Most regular ATX or desktop installations wouldn't have a problem with it, but if you have a special rig that requires the board to be mounted upside down, take note that the heat-pipe will not function properly.
Just like the Foxconn C51XEM2AA motherboard that we reviewed earlier, the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe sports a commanding set of overclocking and tweaking functions in its BIOS. True to what NVIDIA has been outing about its capabilities, a romp in the BIOS of an nForce 590 SLI board can be a wet dream for the hardcore enthusiast, but not at all friendly to the average Joe. All the performance features native to the chipset like LinkBoost and GPU Ex are available as well as ASUS' own optimizations such as PEG Link. However, we noticed that nTune wasn't as extensive on the M2N32-SLI Deluxe as it was on the Foxconn C51XEM2AA. Certain menus were unavailable and even its monitoring feature didn't pick up on many of the board's functions like voltage. We expect that to be rectified as the motherboard drivers and nTune application mature soon, as at this point of time, the final release versions are not available yet.
Overclocking the M2N32-SLI Deluxe yielded even better results than what we've seen from the Foxconn C51XEM2AA. BIOS overclocking allowed us to push the HT link (CPU-MCP) to 315MHz with a 5x HTT multiplier, just like what the C51XEM2AA achieved. However, the M2N32-SLI Deluxe showed more leeway when using NVIDIA's nTune software for overclocking. Under nTune, the board would run stable at 340MHz / 5x HTT - a 70% overclock delivering a whopping 13.6Gbps bandwidth to the processor. We haven't yet had a board that can deliver this level of overclocking while being rock stable, so keep your eyes (and wallet) open for it if this is high on your priority.