As we talked about in the launch review of the nForce3-250 chipset, the high-end versions of the nF3-250 feature nVidia on-chip LAN and nVidia Firewall built into the chip. Since the original chipset launch, it has been clear that readers were very confused about what the nVidia on-chip LAN actually was and which boards had the on-chip LAN.

We have been working with nVidia to try to provide some answers to your questions and clear up the confusion. This should make your buying decision a little easier when shopping for nForce3-250 motherboards.

What is nVidia On-Chip LAN?

The Gigabit LAN capabilities on certain nForce3-250 chipsets is not really a fully integrated LAN. Like solutions in a few other chipsets that remove the LAN from the confines of the PCI bus, nVidia provides a port for direct communication of a Gigabit LAN PHY (Physical Layer) with the nForce3-250 family chipset. There is still an external Gigabit LAN chip providing PHY Gigabit LAN capabilities, which communicates directly with the nF3-250 chipset.

As a result, you cannot determine if an nVidia nForce3-250 family board has on-chip Gigabit LAN merely by looking at the specifications for other brand LAN chipsets. The on-chip LAN will still have an external Gigabit LAN chip providing PHY Gigabit capabilities. This makes the on-chip LAN more like a port to communicate with the external Gigabit LAN PHY than it is a fully integrated Gigabit LAN chip. The end results are the same however - removing the Gigabit LAN from the constraints of the slower PCI bus.

Do ALL nForce3-250 chipsets have On-Chip Gigabit LAN?

The answer to this question has been spelled out in the chipset reviews for the various nForce3-250 family, but it is still a source of confusion. The ONLY nForce3-250 chipsets with on-chip Gigabit LAN are the nForce3-250Gb and the nForce3 Ultra. The other chipsets in the nForce3-250 family do not offer on-chip Gigabit LAN or nVidia on-chip Firewall.

This means that a motherboard based on the nForce3-250, without a Gb or Ultra extension, does not have the nVidia on-chip LAN or nVidia Firewall.

How Can You Tell if a Board Has On-Chip Gigabit LAN?
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  • ZobarStyl - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    sorry log post; didn't the article say that a 250 Gb or Ultra could have an external LAN chip that was still removed from the PCI bus which was the same end result? I looked up the Gigabyte board and saw the same thing as #1 did and I'm a little confused though, NewEgg lists the K8NSNXP as 250 vanilla, can we clear this up? Reply
  • ZobarStyl - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • Palek - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    On a related note, there is at least one motherboard for the Socket A family that also has nVidia Gbit LAN and firewall, namely the EPoX 8RDA6+Pro. This mobo uses the new nF2 Ultra400+Gigabit MCP. People not yet ready to make the jump to AMD64 can stick with Athlon and still enjoy these new features. See http://www.ocworkbench.com/2004/epox/8rda6+pro/g1.... Reply
  • gtech41 - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    Neither Gigabyte board uses the on-chip GB LAN. The
    k8nsnxp uses only the basic 250, while the 939 uses the Marvell 8001 PCI controller (not the 88E111 PHY like the Asus or MSI). Both also use the ICS 1883 PHY for for a second LAN port, but that's just a 10/100 link to the chipset. Easy way to tell-look at the drivers. If any LAN controller uses drivers other than nVidia's unified ones then it's a PCI part.
    Reply

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