As we explained when we reviewed the A7N with the 420, the way the nForce chipset works is very interesting. Despite the fact that the board has three RAM slots, the board can only accept five banks of RAM. Banks of RAM are defined by the strips of chips on a stick of RAM, for simplicities sake. If you have a stick of RAM with chips on both sides, it will use two banks on the motherboard. Generally the larger memory modules have chips on both sides Ė 256MB, 512MB, and 1024MB. You must pay attention to how much RAM you buy when assembling your system. Itís a shame that this fact is not better known. This essentially makes the third slot useless, as it can only be filled with a stick RAM that isnít very large. You can only have two double-sided sticks in the system, so make them count. The first slot is one array, and the other two slots count as the second set.
Another tidbit particular to the nForce is that it runs best if you have two sticks of RAM. The way the memory subsystem is designed you are better off putting a stick in each of the separate slot groupings. So if you decide to get an nForce you had better think ahead. Donít skimp on the RAM early on, because youíre most likely going to have to replace them all if you want to move up by a substantial amount later on.
The differences between the A7N266-E and A7N266-C are few in terms of physical layout. A visual comparison yields only two major differences. The 420-D has a heatsink/fan combo, whereas the 415-D has only a heatsink. This reduction in cooling efforts makes sense as the bulk of the heat probably came from the graphics dedicated portion of the chip. The heatsink seems to be fairly large enough to handle whatever heat issues crop up. The second difference arises on the I/O plate. Where there was once a video output, there is nothing. Itís really a rather odd site, as weíve never really seen only on serial port on a computer. Weíre not complaining as the last time a serial device was hooked up to our computers was almost three years ago. Should you require the use of a second serial port, ASUS has your back covered. A second port can be attached internally, at the loss of a PCI slot opening.