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NVidia nForce Reviewed 211

CtrlPhreak writes: "The highly awaited NVidia nForce is finally here. Anandtech has a review of an nForce 420 reference board. This is the one with integrated dolby 5.1 sound, a GF2 MX core at 6x agp, and dual-channel DDR RAM! Go check it out."
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NVidia nForce Reviewed

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  • Too much bandwidth? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ( 184378 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:21PM (#2342382) Journal
    The review seems to say that there's too much bandwidth available on the 420 series. Granted, it is used if you stick with the built in video, but won't someone paying a premium for the 420 most likely stick their own AGP card in? Maybe a Radeon 7500 or a GeForce 3...

    At any rate, I'm wondering if the nForce is set for a multiprocessor future, especially since it offers so much bandwidth. One Athlon can't take full advantage of all that bandwidth, but I'll bet two could.

    With nVidia positioning themselves as the bandwidth gurus on the AMD side, I wonder how long it will be before ServerWorks steps in and showers us with their chipsets (for AMD). My guess is ServerWorks will wait for AMD chips to support 4+ processors in a single box.
    • Well, one Athlon can't saturate that bandwidth, two could.
      What do you think, how long before nforce supports Hammer? There's twice as much width (64bit), so maybe, just maybe, even one Hammer could bring nforce down to its knees..

      Anyway, I'd REALLY like to see NF with two athlons, although it's not really probable.. (It took AMD 3+ years to make 760MP and nvidia can't even make their video drivers work reliably in SMP). And please don't start mumbling about those things being like comparing apples and bananas. They DO relate.
      Nvidia just doesn't seem to have processor SMP knowledge in-house. Maybe GPU-MP but not proc.
      That makes me think. Didn't 3dfx had the "smp" of GPU's? yeas it did. And whos slave it's now? That's right, NVidia!!

    • Not sure. ServerWorks might be avoiding an AMD motherboard for the simple fact that Intel has been making motions of ceeding the high-end Intel chipset market to them.

      i.e. ServerWorks doesn't want to loose a license to the Pentium 4 and Itanium busses. ;)

      Regarding the 420 series and a built-in AGP card. It's likely that the cost difference between the two versions will be lower than the cost of a clearly better AGP card. This chipset is designed for a lower-end user. One who wouldn't be able to afford a GeForce 3 or a Radeon 7500, or at least doesn't want to spend the money on it.
      • Not sure. ServerWorks might be avoiding an AMD motherboard for the simple fact that Intel has been making motions of ceeding the high-end Intel chipset market to them.

        i.e. ServerWorks doesn't want to loose a license to the Pentium 4 and Itanium busses. ;)

        I have to agree with you there. I'm sure ServerWorks would love to grab Intel's high end chipset market, and I think we would all be better off if that happened. ServerWorks' chipsets are much better than Intel's (with cool things like ChipKill and hot-swap DIMMs.

        But regarding your second statement, I'm a bit concerned. That's the kind of thing that will get Intel thrown in court. Remember when Microsoft said "If you sell non-MS OSes with your PCs, you will lose your reseller contract." That one ended up against Microsoft.

        Granted, ServerWorks might not get new licenses from Intel (and that is unlikely, ServerWorks has a name for themselves in the high-end market). But for Intel to breach its contract and take away those licenses would be asking the Justice Department to make Intel's life a living hell.

        If I were AMD I'd be pushing ServerWorks to build an AMD solution, or, alternately, to license some technology to AMD (and maybe some engineers) so AMD can do it themselves.
        • See, there are ways that Intel can work around this.

          For one, even if they can win in court over Intel, a legal battle is expensive and annoying and can do them in even if they win.

          For another, Intel no longer has a monopoly. AMD owns a substantial portion of the market. IBM/Sun/HP/CompaQ own a bunch of the server market. It will be much harder to prove an Intel monopoly than a MS monopoly.

          And finally, some companies just love to cosy up to a single platform, contractual issues beside it. Perhaps Intel has been very nice to ServerWorks in the past and present. Perhaps it isn't the explicit threat of trouble, but more a desire to not end up like Via and have a chipset they will have legal troubles shipping.

          Granted, I'd absolutely LOVE to see a good workstation-friendly ServerWorks chipset for either the P4 or Athlon that was aimed at the high-end hobyist market. But remember what happened to SGI when they went from hardcore hardware to lower-end stuff, hmm?
    • Just wait (Score:3, Informative)

      by interiot ( 50685 )
      Time passes, processors get faster, bandwidth requirements go up.

      For the same reason, rambus will become more desirable as time passes.

      • Rambus has latency issues. It's great for accessing lots of data sequentially, but for random access you keep tripping on the latency. DDR memory doesn't have this problem.

        So, for some applications like cranking through a pile of video frames and compressing them, Rambus is great; but for many typical desktop computer operations, it's not so great.

        The nForce chipset that runs two 64-bit wide buses in parallel has more memory bandwidth than an Athlon can use right now. That's a lot of bandwidth. If bandwidth is why Rambus could become more desireable than DDR memory, it won't happen anytime soon.


    • I don't see any complaints about the bandwidth issue when the memory is used in conjunction with the dual-memory controller IGP-128. If you look at the integrated video scores, the 420 board loses a large chunk of speed due to the use of the memory bandwidth for graphics. So if you're planning on using this board, don't plan on using the intergrated video for stellar performance compared to a regular GeForce2 MX.

    • Heat problem (Score:2, Insightful)

      by beanball75 ( 126064 )
      Unless they work out heat problems: .html []

      I can't think of a circumstance where I would want to trust a 4-way server to an AMD chip. Love it for my desktop though.

    • The CPU and integrated video aren't the only things using that bandwidth.

      Everything on the MCP southbridge does too. The IDE drives can DMA up to 100 MB/s, the Ethernet chips in a bit, and the audio DSP can actually use a great deal of it when rendering audio effects (which it does to the system RAM - it doesn't have RAM of its own).

      nVidia have said that the MCP southbridge can use over 500 MB/s of the available 800 MB/s HyperTransport link between the two chips, when you turn everything on. That bandwidth will also be coming out of system RAM. A shame none of Anand's tests covered that, though I guess he was a little limited in what he could make it do without an S/PDIF output on the reference board (why did they leave that off?!)

      I would bet that the 420 will show a clear advantage over the 220 when doing disk I/O and heavy sound processing, even without using the integrated video. That's a good reason for enthusiasts to spend the extra on the 420, even with an AGP card being used.

  • Very interesting.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:25PM (#2342426) Homepage
    It's very interesting to see that chipset out.

    Definately not what I would consider a performance motherboard, but I'd rate it better than an i810 or similar in terms of a chipset that has everything integrated. I mean, really, if you look at the benchmarks, your average PC manufacturer can make systems that don't need ethernet, sound, or video cards. And because it's all done by nVidia, you can bet that people who were preprogrammed by the local geek to loathe onboard Intel video will break programming and pick up an nForce based board because nVidia has got to be good, right?

    Of course, the much touted dual-bus DDR-SDRAM doesn't net you too much performance over a single-bus DDR-SDRAM motherboard, mostly because it is more bandwidth than the CPU can pump. But it does make an onboard video card suck slightly less than trying to make a video card share a single PC133 SDRAM chanel. ;)
    • "Definately not what I would consider a performance motherboard"

      Why not? According to the review it pretty much shares the AMD performance crown with the KT266A. And knowing nVidia, there'll be plenty of driver releases to streamline things even more (though I'm not sure how much impact drivers have on motherboard performance). But I would definately call this a performance part. With a 1.5Ghz Palomino and an GeForce 3 Ti500, this thing'll make pretty much the ultimate gaming rig.
      • Mostly because the KT266A will be cheaper for the same performance and advantages. The major advantage of the dual DDR-SDRAM channels is to make the onboard video bite slightly less. If you are going to stuff it with an AGP video card, etc. you might as well just get the KT266A.
        • If you are going to stuff it with an AGP video card, etc. you might as well just get the KT266A.

          Except that the extra bandwidth is also needed for the onboard sound DSP processing, disk I/O, ethernet etc.

          If you use any of that, particularly the 3D sound, the dual DDR will deliver higher overall performance. If you used a plugin 3D soundcard with its own onboard RAM, that'd eliminate most of the bandwidth drain, but it'd also push the cost of a KT266A well past that of an nForce...

        • Mostly because the KT266A will be cheaper for the same performance and advantages. The major advantage of the dual DDR-SDRAM channels is to make the onboard video bite slightly less. If you are going to stuff it with an AGP video card, etc. you might as well just get the KT266A.

          Or, it makes sense to use the nForce 220 (single DDR channel) with a seperate video card, to get the benefit of the awesome integrated sound for (potentially) significantly less than the cost of a KT266A + SB Live.

          You are right that the 440 makes no sense as a high-end chipset, only as a good mid-end OEM chipset (integrated video means lower assembly cost).
  • The dolby digital 6.1 is cool, but all of nVidia's new graphics stuff seems like overkill to me. Getting 130 fps in Quake doesn't really seem worth an extra $150. Past 60 fps, you really can't tell the difference anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      130fps in Quake 3 = 30 fps in Quake 4.

      If you don't want to upgrade hardware every time new software is release then, when you do upgrade, it is best to do so to something more powerful than the current software
    • Is this a troll? Graphics technology is just touching on what it could be. For instance in Operation Flashpoint it's one of the very first games to actually have forests, yet to have the forest the trees are very simplistic boxes, and of course trees outside are several polygons jutting out with a tree texture on them. The reality is that the only situation where current 3D cards are visually adequate is simplistic indoor situations, but if you try to visually model the outdoors even a GeForce 3 Titanium is woefully ill equipped. I dream of "OpFlashpoint" in the future when there are ditches, better foliage (despite the fact that it already has CLEARLY the best foliage of any game yet created, though years ago people were already saying that computer grpahics had gone as far as they need to go), a deformable world, etc.

    • There is more to gaming than Quake (thankfully).

      However, for the truly competitive players, higher fps makes a difference. For the rest of us, higher resolutions at playable fps is a nice to have.
    • Depending on your monitor, past 80fps or so and you can't even refresh the screen that fast, let alone see a difference.
      • Yeah, but keep in mind thats 80fps on average.

        Generally that means it'll dip to 40 during the rough spots. Perhaps you don't notice it so much -- but it's there when it's a tight battle which is exactly when you want a high refresh and low ping.
  • lacks the typical "punch" that nVidia products usually carry. It's odd that nVidia, a company that has always been a leader in its field, would introduce a fairly plain-vanilla product. There really aren't any truly exciting features built into the "all-in-one" board. But at 120-150 dollars, i guess it's fairly decent.

    The really odd thing, i guess, is that nVidia didn't try to integrate a GeForce 3 chipset into the equation. Then this board would have been truly awesome, even if it cost $300-$400.
    • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:37PM (#2342517) Homepage
      Naw, it's smart business.

      Consider all of the laid off ex-dotcommers who don't have large disposable incomes right now. ;)

      Playstations for the poor!!! ;)
    • Um...yeah. nVidia hasn't always been a leader in the field. They have publically said that their first video card was a complete and utter failuer, because they chose to accelerate quadrilaterals instead of triangles, and triangles became the standard.

      Why bother with a GF3 though? Yes, it has some more features that alleviate bandwidth some, but it would have made a larger die, and therefore cost more, and only given marginally better performance (though admittedly, the quality would probably have been better). But, given that the integrated video is already bandwidth limited why should they stuff a bigger, more expensive core in there that wouldn't perform much better?
      • so nVidia hit a bump in the road with their first product. Who cares? They're still the industry leader, without question.

        And as far as using a GF3, I chose that particular chipset for the sake of forward-compatibility. I'm saying that they should have at least made a "top of the line" version with the bleeding-edge chipset, and performance enhancments to accommodate it. Doing so would have been more in tune with their current trend of innovative products.

        It seems you missed the point of my post completely.
    • Microsoft paid nVidia $100 million to create a motherboard with an integrated GPU for the XBox. The GPU for the unreleased XBox will be better than the GeForce 3.

      Microsoft allowed nVidia to sell the technology that was developed (the nForce), as long as they didn't sell it with anything higher than a GeForce 2, because then there would be no reason to buy the XBox. In short, nVidia can't sell the nForce with a GeForce 3 because that would violate their agreement with Microsoft.
  • I'm sorry, but it has to be said. It's 4:20!!
    • bah...most ppl dont realize the 4/20 is just hitler's birthday; i know it seems to carry a rather different conotation, but nevertheless...
      it sounds rather dumb when ppl scream it out as done in the parent of this post...;-)
  • by DG ( 989 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:35PM (#2342506) Homepage Journal
    Something about this motherboard seems strangely familliar.....

    - On-board, highly-advanced graphics processor? Check.

    - On-board, highly-advanced sound processor? Check.

    - On-board, almost every other connector and whoosit you could want in a PC? Check.

    Oh my God, they've invented the Amiga!


    • Oh my God, they've invented the Amiga!

      Or a Commodore 64 or an Atari 800 (the latter of which was released in 1979).

      It is interesting to note that the blitting capabilities of an Amiga can be emulated in software on a 486 and still be significantly faster than the Amiga hardware. It wasn't _that_ fast.
      • Not to get drawn into a huge Amiga-zelotry argument over a joke, but the Amiga was screamingly fast _for its time_.

        Remember that we're talking about a computer who's first iteration was 1985, its second 1990, and its third 1992.

        Given that the 486 et al were a generation (hardware wise) later on, it's not at all suprising that it was superceded.

      • It is interesting to note that the blitting capabilities of an Amiga can be emulated in software on a 486 and still be significantly faster than the Amiga hardware. It wasn't _that_ fast.

        The Blitter, yes, that can be emulated in realtime. But the Copper, it's an entirely different story.
        The Copper (it stands for CoProcessor) was a very simple processor, that executed simple statements trigged by the SCANLINE POSITION of the monitor!!! With the bang-the-hardware programming model typical of the Amiga, you could do some terrific tricks without ANY main processor overhead:

        - at position 10,30 change the background color from black to yellow
        - at line 125, change SCREEN RESOLUTION (!!) from low-res to hi-res

        ...and so on
        It was widely used for graphical demos. I had UAE (an Amiga Emulator) installed on my K6-2 300Mhz, and some scenes of "State of the Art" couldn't go faster than 9 fps (they were 50fps on a 7Mhz Amiga). I didn't try on my 850Mhz Duron...
        • The Blitter, yes, that can be emulated in realtime. But the Copper, it's an entirely different story.
          The Copper (it stands for CoProcessor) was a very simple processor, that executed simple statements trigged by the SCANLINE POSITION of the monitor!!! With the bang-the-hardware programming model typical of the Amiga, you could do some terrific tricks without ANY main processor overhead:

          Hmm. This is a really neat-looking piece of hardware, but I think I see a sneaky way of emulating this functionality quickly.

          It was widely used for graphical demos. I had UAE (an Amiga Emulator) installed on my K6-2 300Mhz, and some scenes of "State of the Art" couldn't go faster than 9 fps (they were 50fps on a 7Mhz Amiga).

          It should be possible to do better than *that*. Now you've got me all curious about the implementation problems :).

          Do you have links handy for the UAE emulator (ideally source) and for details of the amiga hardware (ideally complete)?
      • IIRC, the blitter copied bitmaps (and also drew lines) at 1 million pixels per second. Small bickies by our current gigapixel standards, but for comparison, the Macintosh at the time could barely manage 110,000 pixels/s. (PC? Hah! Pixels? What are pixels?)

        I seem to recall that outran some dedicated graphics machines of that era.

        And of course, as other people have pointed out, there was also the copper, the sound & sprites hardware etc etc. The 2090A disk controller had a Z-80 CPU on it, and even the keyboard was driven by a 6502 variant...

    • Amigas rule, and always will!!! ;)
    • Exept the "chipmem" isn't running at 100+ns :)
      and it won't take an eternity to redraw a 1027x768 window hehe :)

      Still... I'd say "true... true..."... Now I need a beer :)

  • Wow, this comes in at the right time... I'll Ask /. this:

    I'm going to buy some stuff and build a computer. Actually it is going to be my first personal (it took me 15 years to get my own...). I want a quite powerful box, but I don't care too much about the graphics on the screen or the sound. What I care a lot about is that the manufacturers I buy from are Good Guys. Also, everything I buy has to be well supported on Linux (I plan to get Debian Woody on it). I plan to get a 1.2-1.4 GHz AMD chip and 512 MB of RAM.

    Now, what do you think, is this chipset something I should go for? Would it work well with Woody, do think? Are the NVIDIA guys Good?

    I was looking for this stuff on Saturday, and I came up with the following stuff:

    • CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz Socket A 266MHz
    • RAM: DDR SDRAM 2100 2 * 256 MB Socket A
    • Harddrive: Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM 40 GB
    • Motherboard: Asus A7M266, AMD761-chipsett, Socket A
    • Sound Card: Creative Soundblaster Live! 1024
    • Video Card: Matrox Millenium G450 32MB DDR-Ram, Bulk
    • CRT: Samtron 96P
    • CD-ROM-drive: Creative 52x IDE

    Does that sound like something good to use with Linux?

    • >Now, what do you think, is this chipset something I should go for? Would it work well with Woody, do think? Are the NVIDIA guys Good?
      > I was looking for this stuff on Saturday, and I came up with the following stuff:
      > CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz Socket A 266MHz

      AMD is GOOD.

      > RAM: DDR SDRAM 2100 2 * 256 MB Socket A

      RAM is GOOD

      > Harddrive: Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM 40 GB

      Big HD is GOOD.
      WD SUCK. WD fail to report their "extensions" to ATA standard, and sometimes screw your data bad. Not only in linux.

      > Motherboard: Asus A7M266, AMD761-chipsett, Socket A

      ASUS is GOOD.

      > Sound Card: Creative Soundblaster Live! 1024

      Creatise SUCK. There's still no active support for linux. At least they opened specs. Or didn't.

      > Video Card: Matrox Millenium G450 32MB DDR-Ram, Bulk

      Matrox is GOOD.

      > CRT: Samtron 96P

      Big CRT is GOOD.

      > CD-ROM-drive: Creative 52x IDE

      Any ATAPI CDROM does it.
      If you have any money left, opt for SCSI.

    • > CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz Socket A 266MHz
      > RAM: DDR SDRAM 2100 2 * 256 MB


      > Harddrive: Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM 40 GB

      Get a cheap Maxtor 40gig instead - faster, more reliable and standards compliant.

      > Motherboard: Asus A7M266, AMD761-chipsett,

      Not one I know about, but sure :)

      > Sound Card: Creative Soundblaster Live! 1024

      Either stick with the onboard audio, get something that Linux has OS drivers for, or an Audigy.

      > Video Card: Matrox Millenium G450 32MB DDR-Ram, Bulk

      Pretty good card, if you're not after the latest games. If you are, get a Radeon.

      > CRT: Samtron 96P

      CRT? Pah. Get the Planar 17.4" LCD [] instead - 25ns refresh, DVI+analog. Have a look at Anandtech Forums [] for some comments.

      > CD-ROM-drive: Creative 52x IDE

      The Liteon 24x is possibly the best drive on the market, especially if you want to be able to make backups (for legit use).

    • * CD-ROM-drive: Creative 52x IDE

      Get a DVD drive instead. You can get a toshiba/hitachi for just 10 bucks more.
      • Well, yeah, this is a very interesting issue.

        The reason I chose this CD drive is that it was the cheapest one I could get that reportedly worked under Linux. I'm not sure I want a DVD drive at this time....

        It looks like the whole DVD industry is busy abusing consumers as much as they possibly can. Obviously, you have the DVD-CCA, I would certainly not want any of my money getting into their hands.

        But you have zoning and stuff too, and while I hear it is easy to work around it, and that it is probably even legal to do that here in Norway, I still don't feel like it. As long as the industry doesn't respect their customers, they should not exist.

        That's why I figured I would just get a cheap CD-ROM drive right now, and get a DVD drive or whatever later, when the industry gets a clue.

        However, I might be barking up the wrong tree, I guess, so if anybody is aware of a manufacturer who aren't in on this, I would certainly consider it.

    • I upgraded to a machine very similiar to this a few days ago. I'm running Windows 2000 and part of my focus was on games, so my decisions may not be relevant to you.

      CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz Socket A 266MHz

      It's only a little extra to get a 1.4. Athlons run hot, I like the idea of being able to underclock my processor if things get a little too toasty.

      RAM: DDR SDRAM 2100 2 * 256 MB Socket A

      RAM here is tricky. Notice that most DDR boards only support 2 DIMM slots, you're cutting off an important future upgrade route. I went with a high performance 512MB from Mushkin.

      Harddrive: Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM 40 GB

      Maxtor seems like the best bet currently. I'd lean towards them.

      Motherboard: Asus A7M266, AMD761-chipsett, Socket A

      This is the motherboard I got. I really like it, but note that it's pricier than most of the competitors. It's nice to have a motherboard that just works.

      Sound Card: Creative Soundblaster Live! 1024

      I like my SB Live and generally recommend them. Note that they do have a problem with the VIA 686b chipset, which is the southbridge on the ASUS A7M266. I haven't experienced any problems, but others have.

      Video Card: Matrox Millenium G450 32MB DDR-Ram, Bulk

      If 3D games are in your future, I recommend going with an nVidia Geforce 2/3. I tossed my Matrox G400 a few months ago because I got few up with it. Matrox's do have great 2D support though, and I can't speak of their reliability under Linux.

      The rest isn't worth commenting on. Sounds like you're on the right track, good luck.

    • CPU: AMD Thunderbird 1.2GHz Socket A 266MHz


      RAM: DDR SDRAM 2100 2 * 256 MB Socket A

      good, but how can you get Socket A ram

      Harddrive: Western Digital Caviar 7200 RPM 40 GB

      I've had bad exp with Western Dig....

      Motherboard: Asus A7M266,

      too expensive, Sis735 cheaper and performs better. KT266A is even better if you can wait

      Sound Card: Creative Soundblaster Live! 1024

      sb live is well supported, just dl the drivers from creative's site. (kernel drivers aren't as good)

      Video Card: Matrox Millenium G450 32MB DDR-Ram

      I would go nvidia here, easier to get 3d working well (unless 3d is not as important)
      • It seem everyone here has had bad experiences with Western Digital and love Maxtor, but my experiences have been the exact opposite. I have had two Maxtors (a 20 GB and a 40 GB, both at 5400 RPM) crap out on me for no reason whatsoever. My Western Digital has never given me problems.
  • ... integrated.

    We all know what history has done to integrated.

    The reason I'm using a PC is that there is nothing integrated. Unlike a console, or obviously a future nForce based motherboard.
    • Integrated motherboards have been around for quite some time. It's just that before, most of them sucked. If you don't like the integrated stuff, then you can still install 3rd party parts on an nForce. I'm planning on getting one and installing a GeForce 3 Ti500 (probably). You could throw in your own sound card if you wanted too. Or ethernet or pretty much any other standard PCI card. So in this case, the integration doesn't really prevent you from playing with things.
    • That's how I used to feel...BUT,

      Considering how much CPU socket/slots and memory standards have been changing, the reuse value of a lot of PC components has been dropping quite a bit. The last 3 systems I built, I only reused harddrives and CDROMs from older systems...Considering this trend, integrated motherboards aren't quite as bad as they once seemed. I'd rather buy an integrated kick-ass solution once a year than buy all new parts and deal with the associated incompatibilities...So, if PC makers must continue with these upgrade-forcing standards-obsoleting changes, I'll probably start going integrated...

  • Will the Athlon XP make any better use of that extra bandwidth?
  • Well, it isn't the killer performace piece I was hoping for, but still not a bad chipset. I'd like to get one just to get rid of my God damn SBLive card, if nothing else!

    It's isn't really meaningful until we're looking at the end product from the mobo manufactures. Still, I wouldn't mind picking up one of the 220-D chipsets, a nice cheap thunderbird, and some of that fancy Dance Dance RAM. I'd just drop my GF1DDR in there until the GF3's got nice and cheap.

    • I'm right there with ya on the SBLive. I also really like the all-in-one driver situation. Saves a lot of trouble. And nVidia have a pretty good record with drivers. I'm getting really sick of trying to figure out which of the Via 4-in-1 drivers I'm supposed to be using, and which ones will make the machine unstable and such. When nVidia makes pretty much everything that needs a driver, life'll be much easier. Well, as long as I can still buy somebody else's stuff if nVidia does get complacent and starts sucking.
  • "nForce supports a robust new feature set designed specificallyfor the new capabilities of Windows XP, including: digital music, DVD playback, 3D graphics, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, networking, and more. The pairing of nForce and Windows XP is a perfect match--the world's best platform processor powering the world's most advanced operating system."

    I don't know about other people, but those kind of statements do not exactly encourage me to buy. Actually, I decided to buy something else instead. A cake, for throwing.

  • First of all, I'm 100% against any on-board chips, but the nForce isn't 'bad' for a first computer. From what I read, the memory bandwidth benched very high, and the audio benched very VERY well, but the gfx weren't so hot. I'd still take a Via KT266A anyday of the week over the nForce. And as far as the 4.2gig of memory bandwidth, although very nice on paper, doesnt really matter because 10 other things start to bottleneck. All in all, its a nice chip for manufacturers like Dell and IBM to start putting on their systems (as we all know, their integrated stuff SUCKS), but that's as far as I would go with it. I cant see the nForce taking off in the hardcore-user arena.
    • "I cant see the nForce taking off in the hardcore-user arena"

      As a pretty hardcore user who is dying to get my hands on one, I'm gonna have to disagree with you. Its performance is comparable to the KT266A (so they're tied for best in the pack), and some of the integrated stuff could be pretty useful. I'll be pretty damned glad to get the SBLive out of my system. The special ethernet streaming stuff (not mentioned in the review...check out the preview) sounds pretty cool too. And if you want to use your own hardware, you can still install it. Most of the first round of nForce boards are probably going to be full ATX form factor with plenty of PCI slots plus AGP and that thing I didn't recognize (looks like a backwards PCI slot). And it's not really all that expensive. In fact, if memory serves, it costs less than an Abit KG7-RAID. So, while I don't like not having the option to install my own parts, in this case I don't see any real drawbacks of the integration. And I do see a few real benefits.
    • Is there any particular reason you think Dell would manufacture a PC with an nFORCE in it?
    • I'd have to disagree too - this baby will sit in a muffled case in my lounge room, connected to the TV & 5.1 sound system, possibly with a Radeon 8500DV in it.

      The bandwidth performance is up there with the best, the low-latency ethernet is a bonus, the integrated video provides a decent fallback if I decide to relocate the main gfx card, but I'd buy it for the high-performance Dolby Digital sound alone. A single connection to the amp, and I get full 5.1 speaker support in all my games :-)

      Well worth a little extra, for the enthusiast. There's a lot more to this board than the integrated video!

  • Is the driver source available. Open source or not, I may want to use my own exotic OS.

  • by Malc ( 1751 )
    What is an ACR slot?
    • (N/T)
      Cat got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)
    • Advanced Communications Riser
    • ACR, stands for Advanced Communications Riser.
      I'm not sure if its like the old modem risers that used to be on motherboards (which was a bus for ultracheap software modems). Hopefully this will be used for good, like dolby digital sound output, instead of evil, cheap sound/modem/ethernet output.
      • by Malc ( 1751 )
        Ahhh. So the card would have outputs for each of the devices supported by the system. I guess that would mean that each of the motherboard manufacturers would have to supply their own ACR card based on what features of nForce they support?
  • Forget the do-it-yourself Tivo, and this still could have a role in a geek's home theater. I'm looking for a solution to use my home theater for gaming. I don't necessarily need earth-shattering Quake scores, but I need something that will look good on my high definition-ready monitor and sound good on my surround-sound system.

    My fiance wouldn't like the TV becoming a gaming console for 1st person shooters, but for more communal games, it would be nice. I'd love to play group games like Heroes 3 on a TV with a wireless RF or IR mouse/trackball and keyboard. While playing audio CDs, running visualizations, etc.

    The support for Digital Output without the connection is kinda silly. I haven't been able to find what video-out (if any) is supported because of slashdotting. Component Video out supporting 480p is a minimum, and 720p and 1080i would be useful as well.

    This could make it possible to make PC-based stereo components, supporting gaming, integration with your home LAN (wired or wireless), etc., but it needs to support all the desired options.

    • My fiance wouldn't like the TV becoming a gaming console for 1st person shooters...

      Sounds like you need a new fiancee.

    • The support for Digital Output without the connection is kinda silly. I haven't been able to find what video-out (if any) is supported because of slashdotting. Component Video out supporting 480p is a minimum, and 720p and 1080i would be useful as well.

      You're asking for technology that doesn't exist. You need a dedicated TV out card, and it'll look like crap anyways, since even an HD ready TV has odd verticle resolutions (720, 960 and 1080).

      As a refresher course, let me remind you that 720i means interlaced, while 720p is progressive scan... and I know you don't have a 720p capable TV. My Toshiba [] doesn't even do it. Don't forget that component video is not digital.

      • Many of the newer boards DO support HDTV frequencies.

        There is an application called Powerstrip [] that is made for just that - you just need adapters (and Windows .. not a perfect world). Many HDTV's also come with a VGA-in plug.

        As well remember that the X-Box will output to HDTV as well and the core is .... what ... can't hear you ... the nForce you say ?

  • I keep reading that it is possible to use another AGP card with this mothergoard. What I would really like to know is wether I can hook up two displays to the box. One on the nForce output and one on a card of my choice.

    I know it should be doable with an old PCI card and the nForce, or even with an old PCI card and a new AGP card (circumventing the nForce completely).

    The one reason I can find (correct me if I'm wrong) is that the nForce is already an AGP card, and there can only be one such card on the mb. Is that true?

    If it's possible, then I would have no problem buying a mb based on the nForce as soon as it becomes available (my dual Celery466 + TNT2 M64 is getting a bit too long in the tooth). Otherwise, for me at least, it would be a better option to go with the AMP chipset (is it the 760), which is probably cheaper. and just go with a GForce3 (which I would get anyways)
    • You can't use the integrated video and a separate card for dual display unfortunately. I read that in a preview somewhere.
    • Technically it should be possible to use the builtin chipset as one display and a PCI card as another. But would you really want to? The 2D display quality of a nvidia chip pales compared to a Matrox G4xx. If you want stunning 2D go with Matrox or someone else...

      Just my 2 cents - I've used a Geforce2 32mb and a TNT2 16mb (both AGP) extensively. The 2D quality just isn't as good as a G200/G400/G450.
    • I don't know the specifics of the board, but I can tell you that since AGP is defined as a port, not a bus, you are only allowed one connection to it (and IIRC AGP is wired into the system in such a way that only one port is possible), so an off-board AGP card would have to disable the onboard one. As far as a 2nd vid card on the PCI bus goes, unless they've gone out of their way to disable such functionality it should work like any other system.
    • The Register (I think?) said recently that inserting an AGP card disables the integrated video completely. No dual displays that way.

      However, they also said that this was planned for the next revision of the nForce chipset.

  • by wct ( 45593 ) on Monday September 24, 2001 @03:26PM (#2342854) Homepage
    I really don't want to sound like a zealot or anything like that, but I would like to know if the integrated peripherals (sound, video, NIC) will be supported under Linux. It seems like a no-brainer for the video, given NVIDIA's commendable (though closed) Linux drivers. I remember jumping out and buying a TNT2 when they announced Linux support for the card, then waiting a year for the 4.X drivers to finally arrive. Now that I'm finally going to upgrade my computer, the nForce features are attractive, but I would like to know they are supported at the time of purchase instead of having to while away months wishing I'd bought products with existing support.

    Really, this isn't a whinge about NVIDIA. Any company that supports Linux to the parity of their Windows releases deserves respect (are you listening ATI? Cirrus Logic? Guillemot? Creative?) After a few initially iffy driver releases, the very latest versions have been pretty much perfect for me. I just want to know if the features of this chipset will be supported off the bat this time. A kernel module for the NIC is probably not a major issue, but a closed sound-card driver will be hard to reconcile with the ALSA project, set to be the new Linux sound standard in 2.5.x. But any support is better than none, as they have proven in the past.

    Flame away zealots :)
    • Nvidia basically writes only one driver for all of their video chipsets. I'm sure there are depends in the code for different chipsets but the download is one file. Basically the graphics chipset in this motherboard chipset is already supported by the existing nvidia drivers so no new drivers will need to be written (nor likely tweaked specifically as the Geforce2 MX is sold on regular AGP cards too).
  • what would be the best choice of card I could get for a box that doesn't have an AGP slot? I got a dual P3-800 from a former employer; the motherboard (Asus CUR-DLS) has a server chipset without an AGP slot. Anyone know of a PCI version of the GeForce 3?

  • As posted above... it definitly seems that the nforce is going to be a dual or could we say quad board. Now that would be a hell of a machine. I'm currently using a dual pIII 1 gig on a Vp6... and its a great box, however the single memory bus with pc133 is a pretty decent hit. We may find that this chipset will be the one... quoting the matrix in regards to taking AMD to a new level of domination.
  • that we railed on the impersonal juggernaut that was 3D-FX, and cheered the peppy little underdog that was known as nVidia.

  • Good that it's nearing release. I check almost every day for "A7N266" on Pricewatch. Still no hits so far, but hopefully it should be close.

    My PII-450 is getting quite sleepy. I've been wanting to upgrade for some time, but have been holding out until the PC market stabilizes on a decent stable platform. There's just been too much change recently.

    I'm looking forward to building a system with GeForce3, nVidia nForce, DDR 266 memory, and a 1.4GHz or better Athlon... there's never been a better time to upgrade, because with this economy, it's a buyer's market!

  • Forget about the GEForce2 vs. GEForce3 issue, but remember all that memory bandwidth and the off-loaded high performance connects for networking and disk access.

    I want a cluster of Palomino'ed 420's running Mosix scalable linux clustering (see []) to do my meteorology/air quality forecasts (see [] with.

  • Now you need to make a "real interresting product", if you wanna make cash, go attack against the 760MP chipset. I mean, I won't pay an extra 50% on a motherboard for 10-15% better performance, if I can pay 75%% for doubling it (without counting the price for the extra cpu) (prices of the cpu are so cheap right now anyways :)).

    I won't buy a single cpu motherboard in these times, with the hammer around the block, and the fact that I know I'll be outdated rapidly, my next syste1m will be like my current: Dual cpu, overclockable a bit and will last me at least 2 years, well hopefully :) (I am using it primarely for 3d rendering so you see where I am going).

    My current system is a BP6 (dual celery 366->550). I am waiting for the "next BP6". I thought about dual durons, but now the price of Athlons is so cheap that I am just waiting for the 1.2GHZMP to take a small drop, and the Tiger MP to get a competitor so it reaches decent level (like the BP6 was). At least with that, I won't cry out when the Hammer will come out with a bigger price tag and 3x the performance over a single processor machine, I'll be on par and over the barrier on the price/performance issue (at least for a good while).

  • What I'm looking forward to with the nForce is only one set of drivers to worry about. In my job, I simply need to use at least one Windows machine and this chipset and its drivers will make that one burden significantly smaller. Looking forward to the commerical boards and long-term stability reports with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. As for Linux, I'll keep rolling my own systems with a plethora of components.
  • Test Procedure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wicked_Will ( 524116 )
    According to Anand's system specs it looks like there was just a single DDR266 memory module used in the nForce board. According to the nVidia information I've read the proper configuration for a 256 MB system would be to use 128 MB in Bank 1 and 128 MB in Bank 2. Otherwise the system is only using one bank, which would explain the marginal bandwidth increase (3%) over the VIA KT266A. It would be nice to see the board with one and two memory modules installed to see how the second bank inhances bandwidth and overall performance.
    • Re:Test Procedure (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZZane ( 144066 )
      It was posted later in their forums that the 420-D (or 440-D or whatever :) was indeed tested with 2 128MB DDR-SDRAM chips.

  • wow, the ati radeon7500 performs almost as well as a geforce3 in those performance reviews. pretty sweet considering the 7500 is basically free when compared to the price of a gf3!
  • Those comparing this to other cards should keep in mind that MX is the cheap version of the nVidia cards.

    A real graphics speed test should be done v. a Geforce2 GTS.

    I don't udnertand why nVidia made this card with an MX unelss they were trying to keep its cost down.

  • Does anyone remember Diamond back in the good old days before S3 bought them and immediately turned one of the finest American component companies to shit?

    Remember that Diamond specialized in taking reference boards and just tweaking the crap out of them and then crowing it all with rock steady drivers? Whether it was Voodoo, Nvidia, Aureal or whatever. Diamond products where as solid as bank vaults and then raised the bar for everyone else. (The Soundblaster Live! Turned out as good as it did because Diamond was the first company to release a PCI audio card that was not only magnificent, but could be found at your local Best Buy, unlike Turtle Beach products, which were also excellent but not as widely or as well distributed. Since the Soundblaster AWE was Ubiquitous and still an ISA part. This kinds of terrorized them)

    Okay my point. Not only am I somewhat excited by the potential of the nForce, but I am kind of giddy to see that NVidia groks audio as well as it does video. I am not happy Soundblaster has a lock on Audio peripherals (though the Hercules Game Theater XP is pretty hot) and would love to see real geeks with solid parts and solid drivers up on those same shelves.

    Has anyone heard if NVidia is thinking about releasing the audio end of the nforce as a separate PCI part? Does NVidia have any plans to enter into the aftermarket component market?

    No one has yet to fill Diamonds shoes, It would be fun to see Nvidia try.
  • I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for the nForce to reach production quality, and it seems that it hasn't been worth it! Looks like the KT266A is the one to go for. Especially as it looks like nVidia is selling you a gfx card that is pretty much redundant.

    The question that no-one seems to answer is: When and where can I get one?!? The Via 266A chipset was reviewed a long time ago, yet no-one seems to have them available. Can anyone help me here?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @12:54AM (#2345270) Homepage
    Some of you don't get it. This isn't a part for high-end systems. This is a part for low-cost systems. Low parts count, 4-layer boards, and very likely slotless PCs in a compact form factor. After all, if you have audio, networking, disk interface, USB, and more graphics power than a business PC will ever need, why have slots? Most PCs are never opened after they leave the factory.

    I suspect we'll see some nice-looking desktops for business, and low-end machines for the home, based on this. The big push for businesses will probably be lower cost of ownership.

  • At least, they will never see me buying one of their cards until they release the source of their drivers for inclusion in XFree 4.x !!

    Is their anyone at Nvidia who can read and pass on the essay from RMS (esp. the appendix from the Magic Cauldron) :
    Why Closing Drivers Loses A Vendor Money []

  • It the past there was a strong hot rod culture, where people would activily take apart there engines etc etc. However with modern cars, due to the invention of things like overhead cams, this has all but died. The reasion for this is the almost total intergration of part's into cars nowadays. Now couldn't the same thing be said to be happening with computers.

    With almost all the components you need and no doubt in a better box why would anyone assemble a computer today is beyound me. Now with it all one the main board it is starting to seem more and more "hardcore".

    It seem's to me that we are witnessing the end of a era, wheather this is good or bad I leave up to you guy's.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire