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NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400Gb MCP Preview

Former staff writer    -   February 26, 2004


Benchmarks
HDTach
The nForce2 Ultra 400Gb took a commanding lead when looking at how much less CPU usage it uses versus the nForce2 MCP-T. There was also a slight increase in "READ" speed but not enough to make it a major advantage.
HDTach IDE Test
- Read Access Time
- Read Burst Speed
- CPU Usage
nForce Ultra 400Gb
14.5ms
113.9MB/s
13.4%
nForce2 MCP-T
14.5ms
110.1MB/s
24.1%



Conclusion

Jason's Thoughts
Taking a step back and looking at the total package, not just the new hardware features (Gigabit LAN, Firewall), but the updated software package makes this one of the most full featured boards I have ever seen. A lot of people are saying Socket A is dead, but the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb is a slap in the face to those who said that. With the Cross Controller Raid and built-in Firewall this will make for one hell of a consumer board, or even server board for that matter. I would of like to of gotten a little more intimate with the overclocking options of the board but the early BIOS did not offer any multiplier adjustments. We will have to wait for retail boards to see how overclocking friendly the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb is. The only gripe I have is the missing SoundStorm APU as the SPDIF and Dolby digital encoding is very important to me as I’m sure it is to a lot of you. Other than that this is the Chipset to own if you are looking for Socket A motherboard. Factor in the price of a gigabit network card and a hardware firewall makes this an even more attractive chipset. Ultimately we will have to see what manufacturers have to offer from board layout to I/O configurations. NVIDIA has impressed me once again with there latest incarnation of the nForce2 chipset. More motherboards need to be this feature packed, not just hardware but software wise too. The hardware would be useless with out the awesome driver and system utility package offered by NVIDIA.

Matt's Thoughts
We did have a couple of problems with the reference board that we had. When playing audio it sounded as if there was not enough power being delivered to drive the audio, as we could barely hear the audio with the volume on MAX. Hopefully this was just an isolated case with our reference board, or can easily be fixed. I found a small bug in the Network Access Manager, where it would display a page that stated "Page could not be found" when navigating to the log files a specific way. I'm sure this could easily be fixed as it is only a software related bug.

I have always been big in to the security side of things and now with NVIDIA providing an integrated hardware based firewall in the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb, it should bring a more secure computing environment to consumers. The firewall that is built-in the nForce 2 Ultra 400GB makes the chipset very attracting to me and if you consider a good software based firewall could set you back $50 bucks, the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb seems like the ticket to take. I love the NVIDIA UDA Package, as it provides all of the system drivers you need in one installation. This saves users time and the hassle of searching and downloading multiple drivers. Overclocking within Windows has come a long way with NVIDIA's System Utility. While we were not able to fully test all of settings because of an early reference board, NVIDIA has told us that are working on System Utility 2.0. While I cannot disclose when it will be released, it should provide more features for nForce based boards. However, version 2.0 will only support nForce2 boards and higher. NVIDIA's System Utility does not work on all motherboards currently. The motherboard vendors are required to send BIOS "hooks" to NVIDIA for them to unlock the features and to make the System Utility operate fully. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to get our hands on a nForce2 Ultra 400Gb retail board with System Utility support.

To sum it up, I think NVIDIA has done a good job with the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb and has packed it with many great features like the GigE nic, firewall, and the assortment of RAID options. The native SATA support is also a big plus. I'm looking forward to seeing some vendor boards based on this chipset to see how they take advantage of all the features on the chipset.



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  1. Introduction & Chipset
  2. UDA Package & System Utility
  3. NVMixer
  4. NVIDIA Firewall
  5. NVIDIA Firewall (Continued)
  6. NVIDIA Firewall (Continued)
  7. Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra & 3DMark01
  8. Benchmarks: Far Cry & UT2K4
  9. Benchmarks: HDTach & Conclusion
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