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nForce2 Vs. nForce2 "Light"

Athlon On The Fast Lane: Three Motherboards with nForce2-Chipset and Dual-Channel DDR

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
Multi-Processor Support no no no
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
# USB 6 6 6
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
ACPI yes yes Yes
USB 2.0/ FireWire yes/ no no/ no yes/ yes
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