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Faster and Faster, nForce2: The Latest Boards Put to the Test

Other Boards - Abit, Biostar, MSI

Early in the year, we took a look at these three nForce2 boards (Abit NF7-S, Biostar M7NCG, MSI K7N2-L/ K7N2G).

Ancient Rocks - Asus, Chaintech, Leadtek

Our first nForce2 test looked at the boards from Asus, Chaintech and Leadtek (Asus A7N8X, Chaintech Zenith Series CT-7NJS, Leadtek WinFast K7NCR18D). These three manufacturers jumped onto the nForce2 bandwagon at an early stage. Even if their benchmark results lag slightly behind those of today’s latest models, the performance is generally okay (see Benchmark section).

Epox EP-8RDA3+

Board Revision : 1.1

BIOS Version : April 2, 2003

The Epox board is already based on the nForce2 Ultra 400 and produced a good set of results in our test. The overall picture is spoilt slightly, however, by the board’s inability to complete two parts of the SPECviewperf benchmark : during the 3D Studio Max and the Data Explorer benchmarks, 8RDA3+ crashes out, failing dismally. It is therefore all the more surprising that it completes all the other benchmarks without any hitches, and that not even reducing the memory timing or using a different graphic driver made things any better. Irrespective of this, we did manage to run our memory modules from Corsair and TwinMOS at full whack (5-2-2, CL2).

Epox has gone the whole hog in terms of the equipment incorporated on this board, where a FireWire controller from Agère and a serial ATA controller from Silicon Image round off what is otherwise the solid basic feature configuration of the nForce2 with MCP. Epox also makes use of both network interfaces, which means that two ports are available for 100-Mbit connection. As such, this board is suitable for simultaneous connection to Internet accesses via DSL and the home network, or as a low-end server for network services.