Articles: Mainboards

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Specs and Bundle

In the first place, this article could be written because we got a Socket 479 mainboard capable of working with Intel Core Duo processors. So we guess the ASUS N4L-VM DH mainboard is worthy of a closer look since if it were not for this mainboard, which is one of the first serial Viiv platforms compatible with the Core Duo, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to check the performance of Intel’s new mobile processor in desktop applications.

The ASUS N4L-VM DH is targeted at Digital Home computers and this fact has affected its design. First of all, it is made in the MicroATX form-factor which is rather disliked by PC enthusiasts. Second, this mainboard is based on a chipset with an integrated graphics core – performance-conscious users will hardly want to use it. Fortunately the mainboard allows using an add-on PCI Express x16 graphics card, but its cost is higher due to the integrated graphics. It is selling currently for $140-150 – quite a high price for a MicroATX product.

And this one and a half hundred dollars will buy you the following functionality:



Intel Core Duo/Core Solo for Socket 479


Intel 945GM (i945GM + ICH7-M)

FSB frequency, MHz

100-500 (with 1MHz increments)

Overclocking-friendly functions

Adjustable Vmem


2 DDR2 DIMM slots for dual-channel DDR2-667/533 SDRAM

PCI Express slots

1 x PCI Express x16
1 x PCI Express x1

PCI expansion slots


USB 2.0 ports

8 (4 – on the rear panel)

IEEE1394 ports

2 (1 – on the rear panel, via TI 1394a controller)


1 ATA-100 channel (in the chipset)

Serial ATA

2 Serial ATA-150 channels (with RAID support in the chipset)
2 Serial ATA-300 channels (with RAID support via JMicron JMB363 controller)

ATA RAID support

RAID 0, 1, Matrix Storage by the chipset
RAID 0, 1 by JMicron JMB363 controller

Integrated sound

8-channel HD codec - Realtek ALC882M

Integrated network

Gigabit Ethernet контроллер Intel 82573L

Additional features

Intel GMA950 integrated graphics core


AMIBIOS v02.58


MicroATX, 245mm x 245mm

Despite the modest dimensions and integrated graphics, the mainboard’s characteristics are good. Of course, there are fewer expansion slots than usual due to the MicroATX form-factor, but the mainboard features an additional RAID controller, a fine HD codec and a FireWire controller. It wouldn’t be a shame for a desktop, enthusiasts-targeted mainboard to have such specs.

The accessories supplied with the mainboard aren’t gorgeous, but sufficient for a mainstream product. I found the following in the box:

  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • Two Serial ATA cables and one power cable for two Serial ATA drives
  • One Parallel ATA cable and one floppy cable
  • I/O shield for the back panel of your system case
  • Back-panel bracket with a FireWire connector
  • Back-panel bracket with two USB ports
  • User manual
  • Aluminum cooler for Socket 479 processors

Note that there is a special cooler included with the mainboard. Since Socket 479 processors are meant mainly for use in mobile computers, appropriate coolers cannot be easily found in shops. ASUS took care about proper cooling, but I think it would be better if they had put some standard cooler installation mechanism on the mainboard for using any widely available CPU cooler with it.

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