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Those looking at upgrading to the new AMD AM2 platform will no doubt select a motherboard sporting a chipset from the latest NVIDIA nForce 500 series.
There are plenty of AM2 motherboards to choose from already, and almost all of them are driven by a NVIDIA chipset. However this is not to be considered a bad thing given how impressive NVIDIA's latest chipset is. The nForce 570 Ultra and SLI are excellent mainstream parts offering exceptionally good performance along with an amazing list of features. Topping this off, the majority of high-quality nForce 570 motherboards are currently retailing from $100 and up to $150.
Alternatively, if you are willing to spend even more than this the nForce 590 SLI would be your number one choice, as this is what NVIDIA likes to call a "MCP (media and communications processor) engineered for enthusiasts." Currently, there are only a few nForce 590 SLI motherboards available, or at least there is only a select few I would bother looking at. Early last month we reviewed the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe which at the time held a retail value of $220. The M2N32-SLI Deluxe was an exceptional motherboard offering a broad range of features, superior performance and overclocking abilities.
That in mind, the Gigabyte M59SLI-S5 has a tough test ahead with the M2N32-SLI Deluxe having already set such high standards. On paper there looks to be very little standing between these two motherboards. Even the design and layout of this Gigabyte board bares numerous similarities to that of the ASUS version. Given both motherboards feature the nForce 590 SLI, the feature lists are also very similar.
The ASUS motherboard includes a few optional extras, such as the WiFi device with remote not available in the Gigabyte. Although this is a feature not everyone will use, I would have preferred to find some kind of wireless solution offered on the Gigabyte M59SLI-S5 as well. The average retail price for the M59SLI-S5 is about $200, making it roughly $20 cheaper than the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe however.
The real comparison test lies within the performance of the M59SLI-S5. I could anticipate the general performance and stability of this motherboard would be first rate, but I wasn't as sure about its overclocking abilities. Then again, overclocking is another of those features not all users are interested in. Nonetheless, good overclocking performance is a positive sign of a good motherboard these days, as there is much more to producing a good overclocker than just offering tweakable options through the BIOS or Windows.
Recently I have found that both AMD and Intel motherboards developed by ASUS are among the best overclockers in the industry. I have also stumbled across several Gigabyte motherboards that can turn a low-end Athlon64 processor into FX killers. Could the M59SLI-S5 be another of those highly regarded boards? Well the M2N32-SLI Deluxe set the benchmark with a maximum 340MHz FSB which resulted in a total clock frequency of 2.72GHz for an Athlon64 3800+ (default clocked at 2.4GHz), now it is time for Gigabyte to answer.