Athlon Hit Parade: 10 mobos with the nForce2 Ultra400

Conclusion: DFI And Gigabyte Are The All-Around Winners

It is extremely difficult to choose one winner from nine motherboards. Most of the boards in the test met the requirements extremely well, as not one of them displayed any significant weaknesses.

AOpen is the only manufacturer that would not quite stick to the rules: 2230 MHz for our Athlon XP 3200+ is definitely too high, which explains the slightly higher benchmark results. In fact, it has no effect on system stability, but it does impact the benchmark results. At 2205 MHz, all the competitors are still above AMD's designated 2200 MHz, but within a tight tolerance band.

The Shuttle AN35-N is the odd man out as the board with the least amount of features. But that may be precisely of interest to potential buyers who already have a lot of hardware of their own. At least it should be significantly cheaper than the boards we looked at from Asus or Gigabyte.

Abit, Asus, Epox und AOpen are in the middle of the field of runners, although this description in itself almost does an injustice to all four boards. AOpen supports the user in searching for errors, with Dr. Voice. Asus does even better, because the speech output of Speech Post Reporter is of significantly better quality via the onboard sound system. On the other hand, there is once more little difference between Q-Fan from Asus and SilentTek from AOpen. Epox's debug system, based on a digital display, is significantly less convenient, but Epox supplies IDE round cables plus SATA power adapters. Nobody else thought of that, apart from DFI and Gigabyte.

It is very difficult to distinguish any interesting or relevant differences in terms of performance; in this case the differences are too small and insignificant. It is just a matter of what added value the manufacturers can offer.

Gigabyte scores some extra points because the GA-7NNXP is the only board to offer both an IDE RAID controller and a serial ATA controller. On top of that there is Gigabit Ethernet and a second 100-Mbit port for the familiar DSL connector, DualBIOS - what else could you want?

While it's true that DFI does not offer Gigabit LAN, it does offer IDE RAID with the RAID mode 1.5 (a hot topic of discussion today), and a high-quality carrying strap for the computer, in case you need to carry it about now and again. The IDE round cables also really make things a lot easier. All in all, the LANParty NFII Ultra makes such a good impression that, along with the Gigabyte GA-7NNXP, it takes victory in the test.