Since the N7AD-SLI is intended to be an economy motherboard, I decided to build an economy rig around it. I didn’t have a pair of identical video cards to run in SLI, but neither will most people building an economy rig. Not including operating system or peripherals this rig would run under 600 bucks, give or take. Not bad for a rig that will play any game and otherwise do anything you’d want in a timely fashion.
Prepare the CPU and CPU cooler and apply thermal compound per the manufacturer’s instructions. Install the CPU and cooler on the motherboard, then install the system memory. Install the power supply and optical drive into the case.
Install the hard drive, then place the motherboard’s I/O shield into the I/O opening. Install the motherboard into the case.
This was where I had a problem that I hadn’t previously noticed. The CPU socket is much closer to the upper edge of the motherboard than any I’ve seen, normally there is about 2″ clearance, the N7AD-SLI has only about 1″. This prevented me from using the 120mm cooler I had intended to use. I opted for a 92mm cooler instead.
After mounting the motherboard, wire things up, install the video card, and you’re done. Yeah, I know, my wiring is pretty sloppy.I’ll tidy things up later.
ASRock Instant Boot/Overclocking
I guess the biggest complaint I see on the various hardware forums is how long it takes to boot Windows, both XP and Vista. Oh, it doesn’t take that long if you keep your start-up list tiny, maybe 20-30 seconds running only the required stuff, but add your anti-virus, favorite IM program, Spybot, Catalyst Control Center if you have an ATI video card, Java, PDF Reader, Steam, the list goes on..the average enthusiast rig probably takes the better part of a minute to start.
ASRock has overcome the technical obstacles for a quick-booting system and created their exclusive ASRock Instant Boot. Rather than the long process for Windows to load, Instant Boot when run on Fast speed takes 3-4 seconds to go from S3 state to full running. It saves energy, and doesn’t try your patience.
Besides the N7AD-SLI, Instant Boot will work on any ASRock motherboard. And it will work with both XP and Vista. Nice!
With the size of the NB cooler, I decided to keep my overclocking pretty conservative. I easily took my E-8400 from 3.0gHz to 3.62gHz. I probably could have gone much farther, but I was happy with that overclock on a low-budget rig.