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Heat pipes
The A8N32-SLI's most unique feature is easily the copper heat pipe that snakes across its VRMs, and north and south bridge chips.

This copper cooler oozes industrial elegance, and apart from potentially interfering with some heat sink retention clips, it doesn't get in the way at all. But best of all, the passive cooler is completely silent. Passive cooling is a definite improvement over the original A8N-SLI's rather noisy active chipset cooler, and there's more to like about the design than just its nonexistent noise levels. The passive cooler is also immune to fan failure, something that can strike the tiny fans used on most chipset coolers without warning.

Even passive coolers require airflow, and the A8N32-SLI relies on active processor and chassis cooling to keep air moving over the copper cooling fins. If your system relies on passive or water cooling, there may not be sufficient air flow around the CPU socket to keep the chipset and VRMs cool. For systems that lack sufficient airflow around the socket, Asus ships the A8N32-SLI with an optional blower that's surprisingly quiet. We didn't need the blower on our open test bench, which uses an active CPU cooler but has effectively no chassis cooling.

Save for a flexible SLI bridge connector, the blower is the only significant extra to be bundled with the A8N32-SLI.

Certified memory?
For our A8N32-SLI testing, Corsair sent along latest TWINX2048-3500LLPRO dual-channel memory kit is branded as "Asus-Ready" and best for use with the A8N32-SLI.

The Corsair DIMMs pack 1GB per module and are rated for 2-3-2-6-1T timings at speeds up to 438MHz. That's not quite as low as the 2-2-2-5 timings you'll find on extremely low latency DIMMs, but it's quite aggressive for high-density modules. Tight memory timings don't always have a big impact on real-world performance, anyway.

Labeling a specific set of DIMMs as "best for use" with a specific motherboard may be more of a new frontier in marketing than in technology. After all, quality DIMM manufacturers like Corsair and Kingston already work with major motherboard makers to ensure compatibility. We will test these DIMMs with the A8N32-SLI in our memory benchmarks and overclocking endeavors and see whether they offer any eye-popping advantages over the modules we normally use.