Conclusion: The Winning Scores
After the first nForce was introduced a year ago, it was only to be expected that NVIDIA would not be content with a simple overhaul of the product. As a matter of fact, the nForce2 is a completely new product that harks on the technology of its predecessor.
NVIDIA is not the only one to support DDR400 - VIA is set to go with its KT400, and SiS isn't standing by idly either. However, the latter two products should work with only one memory controller, in contrast to nForce, which provides two.
AGP 8x is gradually becoming the standard, but again, the nForce2 is not alone in providing support for this feature - KT400 and P4X400 (for Pentium 4) also function well with graphics cards of this elite caliber.
The first nForce failed to attain the desired success, due to delays as well as its unfortunate positioning (i.e., the graphics unit was first included). This time around, however, NVIDIA seems to have learned from its past mistakes. The various Northbridge chips (IGP and SPP) allow NVIDIA to fulfill the demands of individual manufacturers: nForce2 with IGP, for example, can be targeted towards business and home users, while nForce 2 with SPP can be geared towards workstations and gaming PCs that have their own, faster 3D graphics card. Moreover, there are two Southbridges available, which can be mixed and matched with the two Northbridge chips. The MCP aims for the masses, while the MCP-T targets multimedia PCs with high-end sound and FireWire.
nForce2 is also the only chipset to natively support USB 2.0 and FireWire. Another unique feature is DualNet: no other chipset is equipped to control two network adapters. The nForce2 even seems to be well-suited for low-end server platforms.
The sound system is not exactly new, but it's still one of the best that the market has to offer. Note here that the APU is part of the chipset, and not a separate sound card.
For all its efforts to reach perfection, it's still not quite clear to us why NVIDIA decided not to go for Serial ATA. Promise, Seagate, Adaptec, Highpoint and others already have fresh new products ready to go. It wouldn't have hurt to delay the nForce2 in order to integrate Serial ATA, but it would seem that NVIDIA had other priorities.