Basically, there are four different chipset combinations, as nVIDIA offers two north bridge and two south bridge chips. The two north bridges both include the fancy memory interface, and differ by only one feature: the IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) comes with a powerful, integrated graphics engine that matches a GeForce4 MX 440. Performance users should go for the SPP (System Platform Processor), which does not include graphics and requires an AGP graphics card.
I already mentioned the two south bridge chips MCP and MCP-T. The T-version includes nVIDIA's APU (Audio Processing Unit), and is your first choice if you value sound and Firewire. The simpler version only has one network controller, instead of the MCP-T's twin interface.
Based on this information, two reasonable chipset combinations can be derived. One is for business machines with some, but little, demands for 3D. They would consist of the IGP and the MCP. Power users, rather, should go for the other combination, consisting of SPP and MCP-T. A mighty AGP graphics card would satisfy the thirst for performance, while the MCP-T offers excellent connectivity and audio features. The three boards we received for this review all target the performance market, and are based on SPP and MCP-T.
Athlon Chipsets: VIA, SiS, NVIDIA
This time, we did not include former chipset generations for comparison with nForce2. For one thing, most of them are no longer available. Also, most do not look particularly attractive when comparing features with nForce2.
|Chipset||VIA Apollo KT400||SiS746||NVIDIA nForce2|
|Launch||August 2002||September 2002||July 2002|
|Platform||Socket 462||Socket 462||Socket 462|
|Processors||AMD Athlon XP||AMD Athlon XP||AMD Athlon XP|
|Northbridge||VIA KT400||SiS746||NVIDIA nForce2 IGP/ SPP|
|Southbridge||VIA VT8235||SiS963||NVIDIA nForce2 MCP/ MCP-T|
|Front Side Bus||100/ 133/ 166 MHz DDR||100/ 133 MHz DDR||100/ 133/ 166 MHz DDR|
|Memory Clock||100/ 133/ 166 MHz DDR||100/ 133/ 166 MHz DDR||100/ 133/ 166/ 200 MHz DDR|
|Asynchronous Memory Mode||yes||yes||yes|
|Max. # DIMM||4||3||3|
|Max. RAM||3 GB||3 GB||3 GB|
|DIMM Support||1 DIMM@DDR400
|1 DIMM@DDR400 Single
2 DIMM@DDR400 Dual
2 DIMM@DDR333 Dual
3 DIMM@DDR333 Single
|DDR-SDRAM Support||DDR200, DDR266, DDR333||DDR200, DDR266, DDR333||DDR200, DDR266, DDR333, DDR400|
|UltraDMA/33/66/100/133||yes/ yes/ yes/ yes||yes/ yes/ yes/ yes||yes/ yes/ yes/ yes|
|Max. # PCI||6||6||6|
|Integrated Graphics||no||no||yes, GeForce4 MX (IGP)|
|Integrated Sound Chip||yes||yes||MCP: AC97MCP-T: APU|
|4x/ 8x||yes/ yes||yes/ yes||yes/ yes|
|USB 2.0/ FireWire||yes/ no||no/ no||yes/ yes|
- Power To The Athlon! nForce2 Chipset Motherboards
- nForce2: Features
- nForce2 Vs. nForce2 "Light"
- The Boards
- Asus A7N8X, Continued
- Chaintech Zenith Series CT-7NJS
- Chaintech Zenith Series CT-7NJS, Continued
- Leadtek WinFast K7NCR18D
- Test Setup
- OpenGL-Performance: Quake 3 Arena
- DirectX 8 Games: 3D Mark 2001 SE
- DirectX 8 Hardcore Game: Unreal Tournament 2003
- MP3-Audio-Encoding: Lame MP3
- Multimedia Performance: PC Mark 2002
- 3D-Rendering Performance: SPEC Viewperf 7
- Memory: Only CL2!
- Motherboard Comparison Table