The audio section from this motherboard provides 7.1 audio, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of a Realtek ALC883 codec. This codec provides a low (for today’s standards) signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs – only 85 dB. So it is not advisable to use this motherboard for professional audio capturing and editing (the minimum recommended for this application is 95 dB), unless you install a professional add-on audio card on it. Also the maximum sampling rate for its inputs is of 96 kHz, while its outputs supports up to 192 kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio for its output is of 95 dB.
This board has one coaxial and one optical SPDIF outputs soldered directly on the motherboard, which is great as you can easily connect it to your home theater receiver. ASUS P5N-E SLI does not provide an on-board optical SPDIF output.
Another advantage of this model from ECS is that it has independent jacks for all analog inputs and outputs on the rear panel, so you can easily install a 5.1 or 7.1 analog speaker system without “killing” your line in and mic in jacks. ASUS P5N-E SLI does not provide this: it has only three jacks on the rear panel, not making it possible for you to connect a set of 7.1 analog speakers and also “killing” the line in and mic in jacks when a 5.1 analog speaker system is used. On the rear panel (Figure 2) you can find the Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, analog audio inputs and outputs, coaxial SPDIF output, optical SPDIF out, serial port, PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard connectors. This motherboard does not have a parallel port, not even through an I/O bracket.
Some of the capacitors from the voltage regulator circuit are solid, which is great. On this circuit the ones that are not solid are from Toshin Kogyo (TK), a Japanese vendor that uses rebranded OST (Taiwanese) capacitors. Outside the voltage regulator circuit we found capacitors from another Japanese vendor, Sanyo. Even though ECS is finally using very good capacitors on the voltage regulator circuitry and even across the board, the capacitors used on the audio section are from G-Luxon, which is a Taiwanese company (Japanese capacitors have a better quality). We think ECS should have used all-Japanese caps, but at least ECS is finally on the right track.
In Figure 4, you can see all accessories that come with this motherboard.
This motherboard comes with one CD, containing its drivers and utilities.