We have to wonder what is going on at NVIDIA these days. Of all the companies we have dealt with over the years, they seemed to always be the most aggressive when promoting or launching a new product. As of late, we have seen a kinder, gentler NVIDIA when it comes to the marketing of new products. Who knows, maybe Jen-Hsun Huang is out searching for his thousand points of light or life in San Jose is just a little more relaxed than it used to be a few months ago?

Whatever is happening over at Mean Green (Ed: tm?), we are starting to worry that we might miss a really interesting new product launch with the current soft sell approach. Don't get us wrong, we would rather have laid back product announcements and launch activities than having a marching band, balloons, and a three ring circus show up in our offices any day. However, a little tap on the head or nudge in the right direction every once in awhile when an interesting product shows up would be nice.

We almost missed the product we are previewing today. Sure, we saw the press announcements for the nF560 chipset back at Computex and even noticed a couple of early production samples in the various supplier booths. However, the first products based on the nF560 just sort of showed up at our doorsteps a couple of weeks ago without any fanfare. We thought maybe it was just a product update or replacement for the nF520 (another silent introduction) but it turns out to be the true replacement for the nF550.



We would love to show you a block diagram of the nForce 560 chipset but it is not available yet. However, the actual specification for the nForce 560 chipset is available from NVIDIA. The short story is that the nForce 560 is designed for the mainstream market with a motherboard price target in the $70~$80 range. The nForce 560 offers an expanded feature set over the nForce 520 and 550, including GPU Optimizations for the GeForce 7300GT, 7600GS and 8500GT cards, FirstPacket network technology, and the addition of RAID 5 capability. In terms of I/O features, the nF560 offers four SATA 3Gb/s ports, two PATA ports, one GigE port, ten USB 2.0, and up to four PCI Express slots (1x16,3x1).

The nForce 560 technically offers one less PCIe lane than the nF550, and one less PCIe link; however, it makes up for this by being a single chip solution - one less chip to worry about cooling. While the nForce 520 and 560 officially support the upcoming AM2+ processors, they will not provide HyperTransport 3.0 or split power-plane capabilities.

The nForce 560 has been in the market for about a month now and is currently featured on the Biostar TF560 A2+ motherboard that we are previewing today. (Don't let the name confuse you: while the board supports AM2+ CPUs - like many AM2 boards will after a BIOS update - it is still a standard AM2 platform.) Our article will concentrate primarily on the overclocking capabilities of the board with the AMD X2 BE-2300 and Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processors. NVIDIA and Biostar just provided a new performance BIOS update along with new drivers that include the GPU optimizations. We will provide full test results and a features recap in an upcoming AM2 article.

From a general performance viewpoint, this particular chipset and board combination offer performance levels that are a little better than current NVIDIA 7050 and AMD 690G offerings. On the higher end, this board/chipset are typically equal to or slightly under the nF590/570 SLI boards. Let's take a quick look at the overclocking capabilities of the Biostar TF560 A2+ now.

AM2 Overclocking on the Cheap
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  • chesterman86 - Sunday, August 05, 2007 - link

    any one knows which boards will work with am2+ processors
    i've a evga 590sli, with a x2 4200. it will be great if i could upgrade to a phenom =D
    anyway, even if i do the bios update, i'll not have ht3 right?
    Reply
  • lopri - Saturday, August 04, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the great review. The board reviewed looks solid and the coverage is, as usual, complete and clear. I always liked BioStar's boards and felt their products are not getting much spotlight among enthusiasts. The board and NV's new chipset looks solid and it's really amazing that how much computing power we get for the dollars these days.

    Said that, I'd like to know if Gary thinks the review samples are representative enough for retail products that one can buy, when it comes to overclocking? I haven't kept up with AMD's latest steppings and the overclocking performance of the reviewed CPUs is simply amazing. I remember the time when a 3.0GHz A64 was considered a golden.
    Reply
  • lopri - Saturday, August 04, 2007 - link

    Forgot to ask: What is the thing that going for NF560? There was a brief mention regarding GPU optimazation and PCI-E lane configuration, but overall it looks almost identical to NF550. If one were to buy a either similarly priced NF550 board or NF560 board, what would differentiate 560 from 550? Reply
  • CrystalBay - Thursday, August 02, 2007 - link

    That is some incredible value right there .

    Thanks for the article G.K.!!!
    Reply
  • Powered by AMD - Thursday, August 02, 2007 - link

    Why do you use a U$S 100 Motherboard with the Intel setup and a U$S 80 one for the AMD?
    If we are in the cheap setup, i would like to make a comparision apples to apples.

    I think if you use the U$S 85 JetWay J966GDAG-PB, the tables should be much different.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Friday, August 03, 2007 - link

    You try finding a decent enough Intel motherboard for under $100. Most people I know wouldnt even settle for less than a $150 + board concerning an Intel system. In-expencive/good AMD motherboards with a decent feature list have been around for a while, open your eyes, and do a product search of your own . . . Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, August 02, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Why do you use a U$S 100 Motherboard with the Intel setup and a U$S 80 one for the AMD?

    Good point!

    Also, the processors costs are not equal... (newegg prices)

    Athlon 64 X2 3800+ costs $65
    AMD X2 BE-2300 costs $90
    Intel E2160 costs $95
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ costs $170

    So the AMD setup would be $50 cheaper for about equal performance.
    Reply
  • DeepThought86 - Thursday, August 02, 2007 - link

    2 PATA ports supproted but only one implemented on this board. Boo, hiss. So Biostar saves $0.50 and we're out $100 buying a new drive Reply
  • elpresidente2075 - Thursday, August 02, 2007 - link

    All I have to say is: You've gotta move forward sometime. PATA is OK if you like slow, bulky, and outdated interfaces, but if you're into the whole "having a decent computer" thing, you're gonna have to spend the money anyway.

    And if you mean that you've just purchased a large PATA drive and don't want to purchase a new SATA one, I pity you and your short-sightedness. PATA is going the way of the Dodo, and SATA is the future for now.

    Good luck with the new drive!
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Saturday, August 04, 2007 - link

    quote:

    All I have to say is: You've gotta move forward sometime. PATA is OK if you like slow, bulky, and outdated interfaces, but if you're into the whole "having a decent computer" thing, you're gonna have to spend the money anyway.


    This one made me laugh.

    Not because PATA isn't an old interface. But, compare the speeds of a modern PATA drive to an SATA drive, and you'll find almost no difference. The interface isn't the bottleneck; the drive mechanics are. For that reason, an UltraATA Seagate 7200.10 and a SATA Seagate 7200.10 are within a hairsbreadth in performance.

    SATA certainly cables nicer than PATA, and getting rid of the whole master/slave configuration is a great thing too. But you're buying into the hype a little too heavily. Until we can improve drive mechanics to both increase data throughput and decrease latency in more than tiny incremental steps, the interface won't matter all that much.
    Reply

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