More nForce2: New Boards from Abit, Biostar and MSI

Summary: No Surprises

The new boards take widely different places in the test panel: MSI far ahead, Abit in the middle and Biostar, unhappily, way behind. Although performance differences are usually very slight, in a few benchmarks there is a good 10% difference from the fastest to the slowest candidate.

We will have to hold the high performance of the MSI board at arm's length, because the values are achieved by slightly enhanced FSB clock speeds - as always, this is not a reliable way to get high scores in the tests. Regardless of this, the K7N2-L offers an attractive price/ performance ratio, while the equipment of the K7N2G is on the same good level as that of the Asus A7N8X and the Chaintech 7 NJS.

The Biostar M7NCG lags somewhat behind in performance. However, the high-quality range of features, including FireWire and overclocking options, in conjunction with the usually lower price of Micro ATX boards makes up for this.

However, the Abit NF7-S offers the ideal overclocking base in the quest for 200 MHz FSB clock speed. Even if the performance could be just a notch better, it still offers a good mix of flexibility and features. Only the bundled software, unlike that of the competitors, strikes one as stingy.

If you need all the features of the nForce2, then the Asus A7N8X still stands as the leader. Owing to its two network controllers, serial ATA RAID, FireWire, generous overclocking options, bundled software, LiveUpdate and Q-Fan control, it provides the highest functional scope and high performance at the same time.

Abit, Chaintech and MSI make a head-to-head run in the midrange, which MSI can chalk up for itself thanks to the Bluetooth interface. It also offers the more flexible serial controller (thank to the additional IDE port), although technically speaking it doesn't hold a candle to the Silicon Image chip of the NF7-S, as the latter already works without performance-eating parallel-to-serial bridges.

You will find the first nForce2 article here: Athlon On The Fast Lane: Three Motherboards with nForce2-Chipset and Dual-Channel DDR