Socket 939 Roundup: Battle at the Top

by Wesley Fink on 7/30/2004 8:00 AM EST


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  • harsaphes - Sunday, October 10, 2004 - link

    just set up my a8v board. no go on firewire, will not see ipod or external firewire drive. any idea?...bad board maybe? Reply
  • kd4yum - Thursday, August 05, 2004 - link

  • Fender - Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - link

    The first words in this review confirm that you should never buy a VIA product before they revised it! (KT266 to 400 saga anyone?)
    Also, it's oddly that Hyperions used here are 8 months old...
    It could be interesting if you include, in your tests, any possible issue concerning OS installation or updating drivers (from the CD included in the box to the updated drivers from the manufacturer's site) because this is what happens to most buyers out there. Remember that you're testing a 64bit CPU with a 32bit OS, and drivers development will be a further support insurance.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    #79 - Page 13 is corrected. That error slipped past 3 proofreaders. Thank you for alerting us. Reply
  • Sidewinder0010 - Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - link

    the k8t neo2 overclocking page has a typo that was throwing me off
    "much lower than the 290 on the K8T Neo2"
    That should be changed to k8n neo2
  • Compddd - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Wesley, did Asus say when the A8V Rev 2.0 will be hitting Retail Stores like Fry's, Best Buy, etc? Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    How does the lower bandwidth (4900Mb/s) affect real world performance?

    One more thing, perhaps the MSI K8T Neo2 Platinum references should be changed to MSI K8T Neo2-FIR? That's the name of this board on MSI's site, there's no mention of it being a Platinum board. And here's a link of all the boards in the Platinum series:

    Off-Topic: Wesley, will there be reviews on AnandTech of Socket A mobos based on the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb and VIA KT880 chipsets? They offer the exact same features of the mobos on this roundup, and with the new Semprons and the good XP-Mobiles I suspect a lot of your readers are still interested in this socket.
    Sorry for the off-topic.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    #75 - You are confusing boards as MSI had TWO boards in the roundup. We had no problems at all with the first or second K8N Neo2 (based on nForce3 Ultra) we tested, and that is the board that received the Gold Editors Choice. The MSI K8T Neo2, based on the VIA K8T800 PRO, was the problem board and we definitely did NOT give the K8T Neo2 an award.

    #74 - On page 5 we talk about the memory bandwidth differences in 1T and 2T command rates: "The best performance is at a Command Rate of 1T, and the Abit AV8 was completely stable at a 1T setting with 2 DIMMs. Standard memory bandwidth measured with SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2 shows a 6000 MB/s bandwidth with 1T Command Rate compared to a 5000 MB/s bandwidth with a 2T setting." This is also mentioned on page 11: "While a full memory comparison of the nVidia and VIA chipsets is beyond the scope of this roundup, we did run several SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP2 runs of the memory test module. At default settings, and the aggressive 2-2-2-10 timings on the FX53, the nF3-250 Ultra showed memory bandwidth in the 6100 range for FPU and Float. The same test on the VIA K8T800 PRO boards showed memory bandwidth in the 6000 range. Performance of both chipsets at the 1T setting was very similar. 2T Command Rates, with everything else the same, generated bandwidths of 4900 to 5000Mb/second."

  • Z80 - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Considering your statement "Our concern is based on the fact that we went through 3 K8T Neo2 boards before we got one that really worked" I'm surprised that you went ahead and gave the MSI board your gold award. I see that MSI is being sued for intentionally using capacitors that were made with an improperly-formulated electrolyte solution. My personal experience with MSI quality assurance was never good at least back in the day it wan't but maybe they have changed like you say OCZ has? I'll stick with Asus and Abit, thank you. Reply
  • SignalPST - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    quote from the article:
    "We even found that all six of the tested motherboards performed at the fastest timings available and a 2T Command Rate with 4 DIMMs on board, so even that is a non-issue."

    Does that mean that if 4 sticks of ram are installed, there won't be a performance hit and it will work just as fast as 2 sticks installed?
  • jrphoenix - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    I am using the Gigabyte 939 NF3 board for the past week now. It appears that their are two lan connections listed as Marvell (lan 1) and Nvidia (lan 2). I have been using the Nvidia one?

    To get the firewall to function with the Gigabyte board all you have to do is download the Nvidia 4 in 1's after installing the Gigabyte drivers.

    Of course I'm a noob.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    #70 - The nVidia fiewall is a port on the chipset that allows for direct communication with the Gigabit chip PHY layer. It is therefore very difficult to determine if the on-chip port is being used just from looking at the specifications.

    Earlier this week we asked nVidia for help in identifying which motherboards were using the on-chip gigabit port. nVidia is looking into the list of boards we supplied and said they would be providing us with updated information soon. When we receive that info we will post it.
  • Anemone - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Any chance to have tested the OCZ 4000 gold rev 2, with the 2.5-3-3 latencies and compare that to the 3700 EB?

    Curious as I narrow down things.

    Any news on Pci-e for AMD64's?

  • REMF - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    i too would like to know whether the Gigabyte NF3 board uses the nVidia NIC/firewall, and if not not, why anandtech failed to mention the fact? Reply
  • geogecko - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    What is the noise difference in the retail packaged CPU fans in this class (S-939), and the Thermaltake Silent Boost K8 used in the reviews.

    I notice that Thermaltake also has another CPU cooler using heatpipes, the SilentTower 4-in-1 CPU Cooler. Have you guys tested this out?

    My current PC (AMD XP 1800+ with the equivalent of a Volcano 9) gets too loud for me when it gets warmed up, and that's with it sitting on the floor next to my desk.
  • Staples - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    #62, you must have read the post incorrectly. I was hoping you would have used the same CPU, which you did not. Somehow you read the opposite. I figure in comparing the chipset to the other, using a different CPU throws in a ton of extra variables. Now if you are looking at it from a prospective of which is faster, then your setup is fair. Of course most people would buy the Northwood on the 875 but it becomes more of a platform benchmark rather than anything that could be called a chipset competition.

    About the FX53, one reason I do not like you using it is because it is AMD's flagship product and at least from what I remember, the Presscott that you used was not an EE. Even so, the biggest bother is that the FX53 will always cost more than $500 and very few people will actually ever buy it when they can get so much more band for their month with just a regular class AMD64. This is the case with the EE too, they will always cost an arm and a leg so I'd say only about 5% of people will be buying the FX and the EE series chips. By an overwhelming majority, most consumers will be buying the non-enthusiast parts.
  • bigtoe33 - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Please take this as the official responce to the rumours about 3500 and 3700EB.
    We have NOT stopped production of these modules, it sells quicker than we can produce it..that is the only real issue.

    We have just shipped another huge order so please go bug your favourite stores to stock it..

    EB is here to stay at least for the time being.

  • expletive - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Also, has the performance discrepancy with Halo and the nforce boards ben figured out yet? If it somehting that may resurface in other games ill get an nforce board. If it is fixable or just a one off with halo, i can save a few $ and get a via board while i am waiting for PCIx...

  • expletive - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Does the Gigabyte board use the Nvidia LAN as well? I see it says marvel but after the last series of posts with the marvell/nvidia chipset i am confused now...

  • Anemone - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Thank you for enlightening on the LAN issue with the NF3 ultra - for me I'm getting and FX.

    Since this article is getting referenced a lot with people I talk with and such, can we keep a front page link to it for a while?

    Also looking forward to memory reviews as well. Rather sad the 3700EB has been discontinued :(
    Hopefully OCZ will have something better to take its place in not too long, but that might be impossible.

  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, July 25, 2004 - link

    In compiling benchmarks for the upcoming 925X roundup, we realized we had used a different setup for our 925X AutoGK tests in this review than the setup for 939. This caused lower results with the 925X than we achieved with the same setup.

    AutoGK results have been corrected, and now show essentially the same encoding performance with the DivX 5.1.1 codec on both Intel 560 and AMD FX53 processors with a slight advantage to Intel. Tests with the Xvid codec show almost the same equivalent results with a slight tilt toward AMD.

    Graphs and review text have been corrected to reflect the corrected encoding results. Current AutoGK settings are 'no audio' and default '2CDs (1400Mb)' output size. We install and select Divx 5.1.1 instead of the included Xvid codec. Ripping is from the original DVD file for Chapter 9 of "Sum of All Fears". At present we use the latest release version of AutoGK, which is 1.25, though there are beta versions available through 1.48.

  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, July 24, 2004 - link

    #61 - You are mistaken in saying we used the SAME CPU in comparing 875 and 925X. If you will check our review at you will see that our comparison #2 was a 3.2E on the 925X to a 3.2 Northwood on 875. In fact we got a lot of flak from some readers because we didn't use the same CPU. We felt then, and still feel, the fairest comparison was the 875 with Northwood to a similar speed 775 with Prescott.

    Our options on 939 are a 3500+ (512k cache) at $500, a 3800+ (512k) at $700, or a FX53 (1MB cache) at $763. AMD is expected to announce price reductions soon, but those are our current 939 choices. Given those 3 options with prices beginning at $500, the FX53 is an easy recommendation.
  • Staples - Saturday, July 24, 2004 - link


    Interesting numbers but I hate the fact that Anandtech keeps using the FXxx and only the FXxx. Sure I can now see that AMDs best wins over Intel's best but that is not really practical because I will never buy an FXxx. I want benchmarks between stuff the average consumer is going to buy. Most people including me are struck between.

    875/865 and Northwood (non EE)
    925x/915 and a Presscott (non EE)
    AMD64 754 vs 939 chips and chipsets but NOT the FX series.

    These testbeds have only added to a string of Anandtech blunders. Remember the 925x review which was supposed to compare the 875 against the 925x? Well to elimate as many variable as possible, you use the SAME cpu, not a Northwood in one and a Presscott in the other.

    I love Anandtech and I usually only come here for reviews but I really wish the staff would put more scientific thought into their testbeds. I will never buy an FX series processor and neither will most people because they cost way too much. At least you can throw in a testbed or two of some processors that the common man will actually buy.

    Hope this critical post circulates with the staff and is actually taken into consideration.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, July 24, 2004 - link

    Would there really be any point in providing FSB adjustments above 300 on say the MSI K8N mobo?

    As far as I know there are only two reasons for increasing the FSB-- increasing the memory speed, and increasing CPU core speed on non-FX chips which don't have an upwardly adjustable multiplier.

    Theres no point in increasing the FSB beyond the point where the memory can run at a 1:1 ratio, and your fastest DDR550 memory was only able to hit 290FSB (DDR580). Unless faster DDR memory becomes available (which seems unlikely as the focus for speed will switch to DDR2), then 300FSB is more than enough.

    The only other reason for increasing the FSB would be if you were seriously overclocking a CPU. 300FSB is enough for a 50% overclock which is more than enough for anyone. Maybe if someone got the liquid nitrogen out they could take a 3500+ beyond 3.3GHz, but I'm sure those sort of people would have got the fastest FX instead so they could raise the multiplier and not have to worry about bus speeds holding them back.

    Myself, I'm sure I'm not alone in holding out for S939 boards with PCI-Express support. And maybe a 90nm Athlon 64 if they arrive before the end of the year. And if the MSI K8N whatever that is available then is as good as the current ones, that'll probably be what I get.
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, July 24, 2004 - link

    #58 and others -

    The nForce3-250Gb and NForce3 Ultra do not provide a full integrated Gigabit LAN in the chip. They provide a MAC (Media Access Controller) and a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet PORT on the chip (nF30250GB and nF3-Ultra). This is then interfaced to any number of PHY (Physical Layer) Gigabit Ethernet Controllers.

    To quote the nF3 Tech paper from nVidia:
    "NVIDIA nForce solutions provide an industry-standard Reduced Gigabit Media Independent Interface (RGMII) for attachment of the 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet PHY. The open, nonproprietary interface lets system designers interface the NVIDIA solution to Ethernet PHY from a variety of vendors. Consumers and enterprises all benefit from a broad range of competitive PHY offerings."

    This means seeing a listing of a particlular Gigabit Eternet Controller does NOT mean an nForce3 board is not using the on-chip Ethernet.

    If you look closely at the specs for the MSI, the Marvell LAN chip is spec'ed as PHY. It is also worth noting that the Marvell 88E1111 is the same chip nVidia used in their Reference designs for the nF3-250Gb and nF3-Ultra Reference Boards, but other brands can be used as you can see in the nVidia literature.
  • darklight0tr - Saturday, July 24, 2004 - link


    I was wondering how you determined that the MSI K8N Neo2 used the onboard nVIDIA LAN.

    If you go to the MSI website and look at the specs for the board, it says that the Dual LAN ports are controlled by Realtek and Marvell controllers, respectively. The nVIDIA LAN is not used.

    Is the board you tested different than the board listed on the MSI website?

    Also, is there any particular reason that no nForce3 Ultra motherboards use the onboard nVIDIA LAN?
  • Drayvn - Friday, July 23, 2004 - link

    I thought it was pretty widely known that a nVidia graphics card will be totally optimized on a nVidia mobo, so when testing the X800 on an nForce chipset, ull get lower performance numbers wouldnt u, and so wouldnt that muck up the test results?

    #53, it still does show how well the FX-53 does against a product that is coming out in 2 months doesnt, and this 3.6Ghz is 1.2 Ghz faster and still its being outperformed, so isnt this telling u that the FX-53 is the system to go for? No need to get upset about the intel chip not being out, get the FX-53 now!
  • vie2233hil - Friday, July 23, 2004 - link

    has anybody seen A8V revision 2 anywhere? Reply
  • Anemone - Friday, July 23, 2004 - link

    ECC while nice, doesn't seem to come in any high performance modules that aren't registered. And we know these boards don't take registered memory, which would make using ECC memory translate to using something at PC3200 or below.

    Am I incorrect?
  • normteke - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    I'm pretty new to overclocking. So when you guys say you can bump the fsb to 290 with a lower multiplier and a 1:1 memory ratio, does the memory now have to run at 290 as well, or can it stay at default 200 to keep those tight 2-2-2 memory timings? How exactly does that work? Reply
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    #50 (RyanVM)...A quick check at pricewatch shows you CAN'T BUY IT (the 3.4EE S775, nor the 3.6E 775). Nobody even advertises the S775 for sale at top speeds. The 3.6EE has not even been released yet, and the 3.4EE can't be bought (775's I'm talking). Of course anand could get some engineering sample as before (Intel Confidential written on all pics I've seen ANYWHERE), but are we comparing something I probably won't be able to get for 2 months or more? Prescott 3.4 anyone? Took 3+ months for these to FINALLY show up as a product I can buy (and they were announced Feb2nd I think, reviewers got samples march 21st or so))...I'd call that a bit of an early review, just kills sales for the competitor as people wait for Intel (nvidia 6800 ultra anyone?). If you CAN buy it, show it to me. Otherwise for all intents and purposes the 3.4EE S775 chip doesn't exist. Is that a bit clearer for you? Did you bother to read where I said only 10 places are even selling the 3.4EE for S478? Paper launches and whats AVAILABLE are two completely different things. AMD can probably show some benchmarks of their dual core shortly, but who cares if I can't buy it until mid 2005 (or later)?

    The 6800 Ultra has been out for what like 2 months. I still can't buy that either (nor sell it, which is pissing my customers off..."why don't you have it, I've been waiting 2 months"...blah). The prescott 3.4E just finally started shipping last week for crying out loud (15th I think it was..strangely that press release is GONE everywhere..hmmm). I think reviewers should either completely disregard products that can't be bought or at least dedicate a good paragraph of two to the track record of the last release, and how you'll probably be waiting for months for the one 'we're reviewing today'. I'd say the same about ATI's, but at least one place is selling its best for $999 (ROFLMAO...IN STOCK though..heh).

    Note that Dell's 3.6E isn't expected until December! (5 months away?) I can see telling me about something I might be able to get next week, or maybe 2 weeks, but we're talking 3-5 month paper launches here. Do my statements make more sense to you now? Maybe I'm just tired of customers chewing my butt as if I could do something about it.
  • FactorOfTwo - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    #34, the ECC support question is less obvious than you might think.

    The specs for socket 939 boards I have checked either say "non-ECC", or don't say either way, except I learned today that the MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum does say it supports ECC.

    The general lack of support is surprising given the Athlon64's on-board memory controller. AMD's specs do say the 939 CPUs support ECC, but that does not obviously imply that all motherboards do.

    Some official specs that explicitly say non-ECC:

    ASUS AV8 Deluxe:

    ABIT AV8:

  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    #49 & #50 - There is indeed a Socket 775 3.4EE, but as Anand showed in his 775 launch article the 3.6 is actually a faster CPU. you can check his results at

    Our motherboard testing showed the same thing, which is why we did not even bother to test with the 3.4EE. It is true there a few benchmarks where you pick up a few points with the 3.4EE, but the difference is generally small and the 3.6 is faster overall. Of course the 3.4EE is in addition a lot more expensive than the 3.6. Given the 3.4EE cost and lack of standout performance, we felt the fastest 3.6 compared to the fastest FX53 was the fairest comparison at the top.

    It would have possibly made sense to include Socket 754 data for the 3400+ for instance, but that is a different socket and could not be tested in these boards. Those benchmarks are available in the 2nd Generation 754 motherboard motherboard roundup at Since those benchmarks were done only a few weeks ago we didn't repeat them, but we could include the K8N Neo (754) running a 3400+ for referenc in future charts.

    We never had an FX53 754 in the motherboard lab so that direct comparison can't be done here. However, Derek did exactly that comparison in his 939 launch review at
  • RyanVM - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    #49: "There is NO P4EE for S775"

    There very much is a Socket775 P4EE at 3.4GHz. Did you read any reviews at all before spouting that off?
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Thursday, July 22, 2004 - link

    #22 TrogdorJW

    First of all, ONLY 1 place shows the 560 P4 "IN STOCK" and only 2 others as PRE-ORDER. Is it even fair to say this CPU exists? The 3.6EE doesn't exist yet either in any socket. I would have liked to see more cpu's like you, but the 3800+ would be the only real need here, as it is the exact price range as the 560 (but a A643000+ and P4 3.0 would be cool for the poor). However, when looking at the situation as a whole who'd pass on 64bit, TOTALLY UNLOCKED chip, and domination for around $90-100? If you're spending $700 on a CPU wouldn't you spend $788 to dominate, and completely obliterate once 64bit gets going (did I mention the totally unlocked part?)? If that $100 really means that much the 3800+ w/64bit is much better (not to mention gaming domination now). On another note, you can't expect Anandtech to compare a CPU that won't even go into S775 yet. There is NO P4EE for S775. How could they possibly throw in one of those? Even for S478 there are only 10 places selling them (3.4EE, again no 3.6EE exists) let alone how many in stock. Test a dead end 3.4EE S478? Better include a caveat then that states it's about to be EOL.

    Why test Xvid when its not a real standard? Divx is barely getting going in DVD players, getting Xvid on them too (right now) is a shot at a dart board. I'd prefer they drop these tests totally and show a DVD9-DVD5 rip as I think people are more interested in that. I don't know anyone encoding to divx when dvd burners are $60. Who actually watches movies on their PC (not many)? Who wants to fight to get X revision of Y codec to work on their setop DVD player? I think many more people are joining netflix (etc) and DVD9-5'ing it. Or just downloading what someone else already did (9-5) in the newsgroups. Downloading from the newsgroups (what divx was made for pretty much) is pointless when you have to try to get [x version, at y resolution and z codec and xyz audio bitrate (heh, ran out of letters)] to work on your dvd player. The only way to get them to work 100% is buying a player and doing your own rips that you prove WORK on your player (nobody trading on the web does vids to your dvd players specs mind you). But why would you go divx/xvid at all if you're doing this yourself (and not sharing them) with retail dvds? Wouldn't you dvd9-5 it instead and end all compatibility BS? If you're talking quality, divx/xvid etc is NOT DVD Quality. No matter how you encode it. Burn a DVD and get it over with :)

    RE: 64bits breaking 4gb. That's not what its about for us Desktop users. It's about the extra registers etc. We are probably 3-5yrs from 6-8GB on desktops (as norm). On desktops you've seen anands (etc) tests with 2GB or under but getting the EXTRA registers benefits. In a server review I'd expect 8GB or more tested. In a desktop review 4GB will make no difference in anything they'd probably throw at this review. Also, if you can afford GB dimms, you'll buy a server BECAUSE you're trying to break the barrier for X app that you use and have 16 slots probably for smaller sized dimms (at 1/2 the cost). Desktops have no more than 4GB support in ANY board on either side. We are only after the OTHER benefits of 64bit. The extra registers can be used with just a GB of memory. I'm not against having 4GB in my machine, but I don't see how it would change any of these tests. Just 2GB in one test setup could show us if anything would happen, no need for 4gb just yet.

    I'd also like to see more games thrown at these machines. Use fraps to toss in more game types that don't have benching built-in. Painkiller, Perimeter, Ground Control 2, City of Heroes,Battlecry3 etc. CPU/Motherboard tests should look more like the videocard tests. On top of that, aren't we all downloading something in say Xnews/Agent etc while playing some game? How does that affect FPS? Pick a game and test the same group like that. Saturate your cable connection by firing up an easynews download or something, and benchmark a game. I'd think this would show NForce3 and Intel's chipsets at a MAJOR advantage as the Ethernet is NOT PCI. I'd bet tons of people download while playing games (online or not). Life sucks on PCI in this case.

    One more comment/question. Where is the driver that scored 80+ in DRV and DX and dominated the rest of the workstation tests, even aquamark etc in this review:

    We're talking 20-40% improvements and that was on a 5950 vs. this reviews 6800ultra. Seems I'd really want that performance for FREE. Where's that driver? 88 to 57 in DRV? SHEESH. How'd they do that? Where can we get it? I expected workstation domination on nvidia boards here.
  • Anemone - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    Silly me on the MSI lan - new board using the NF3 250 LAN, right design, I didn't read carefully.

    My bad
  • Anemone - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    I like them being interested in overclocking and speed :)

    Curious of Asus will put out a NF3 ultra board. Curious why MSI didn't use the NF3 Lan - since its better and lower in cpu useage.

    Great review!
  • llamas - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    How long do we have to wait for micro-ATX motherboards in socket 939? Reply
  • JKing76 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    Thanks Wesley! Can't believe I missed that. Reply
  • Richdog - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

  • Richdog - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

  • bigtoe33 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    If you are looking for the K8NN939 beta M03 again its availabale at on bigtoe's bios bin.

  • grdh20 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    abit av8 1.3 bios link
  • grdh20 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    The msi K8N Neo2 will hit the states in 2 weeks according to MSI.

    How will the A8V rev. 2.0 be sold in terms of order by model #. Same or different? Rev. # is only printed on the PCB, not the box.
  • Brickster - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    I love my new Gigabyte 939 board! It kicks a*s and is perrrty in the dark! :) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    #36 - The new Gigabyte BIOS DOES have multipliers in BIOS as I detailed in the review specifications. See the link in #35. Reply
  • RyanVM - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    With performance getting so similar between the various boards/chipsets, it seems to me that AT is overlooking some of the bigger differentiating factors: integrated features. It would be nice to see how the USB, Firewire, IDE/SATA, Ethernet, Sound, etc. implementations differ in CPU utilization and overall performance.

    For example, the Gigabyte (inexplicably) uses a 3rd party GigE controller instead of the NF3-250's controller. What impact on throughput/CPU utilization does this have? How is VIA's SATA implementation compared to nVidia's?

    It seems to me that those are become more relevant of questions than "Which board has a higher Winstone rating?"
  • Parc - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    I had heard the Gigabyte board would not let you adjust the multipler in the bios but I saw a picture where it could be adjusted from the software in windows? Is this true? Any disadvantages to this? Also just how bad is the voltage limit holding the Gigabyte board back? Is there anyway Gigabyte could allow you any more voltage adjusts through the bios in the future or is this board hopeless for volts? Reply
  • bigtoe33 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    For all who want the AV8 bios...first join the forums over at, then look in bigtoe's bios bin. you will find the bios under abit amd boards.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    #31 - A friend will post a host for the BIOS soon, as I can't handle all the individual requests. Until then email me and I will be happy to send it to you.

    #32 & #33 - The Socket 939 boards WILL handle ECC and non-ECC memory, but I suspect the question is larger than this. Socket 940/Opteron requires REGISTERED memory and the ECC can be on or off. We have tested the 939 with Registered memory and it is definitely NOT compatable with Registered memory. If you want to keep using Registered memory (Which you may have bought for 940) you will have to stick with an Opteron.
  • Klaasman - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    #32 Socket 940 boards require ECC memory. 939 don't but they might run it. Go to AMD's website and see. Reply
  • FactorOfTwo - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    Do any Socket 939 boards support ECC memory? I am having a hard time finding a definitive answer to this question.
  • TheLiquidH20 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    Quote - The general performance of the VIA and nVidia-based 939 boards was virtually the same in DirectX 9 games, with one notable exception. Microsoft's Halo performs almost 15% better on the nVidia nForce3 Ultra .

    Could this have something to do with Halo being a direct port of the xbox ? Seeing that the Xbox is basically one , big intergrated nForce ? . Would explain microsoft adding some optimazations for niVdia hardware .
  • Klaasman - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    Ive got an ABIT AV8 and I wouold like to get a copy of that 1.3 bios you claim you had. Reply
  • rjm55 - Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - link

    This is the first time I've seen AnandTech use color in the benchmark graphs. It really makes reading the data a LOT easier. Thanks! Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #5 and #26 - I received a retail K8T Neo2 about 10 days ago and the board is now entering retail. I received the retail K8N Neo2 about 4 days ago and I am told it should enter retail in the next week to 10 days. That is the best information I have, but the date has already slipped from early July to the end of July. MSI should have the most reliable information on when the board will finally hit the retail channel. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Thanks for using the AutoGK encoding benchmark! I prefer the XVid codec, over DivX, but I very much appreciate the benchmark. AutoGK is by far the best freeware encoding suite I've come across. Reply
  • kd4yum - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    See #5

    Where is the MSI 939 board?!

    Wesley, I asked same question in another Comments section. I can't get answers from MSI (phone) or Newegg (phone). Can you?

  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #23 - I am now working on a 925X roundup and had switched mental gears. It looks like I need to check my mind set before correcting reviews :-) Now fixed. Reply
  • kd4yum - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    "Our FX53 topped out at about 3.59 GHz on the ECS KV2, which is slightly below the 3.6+ achieved on the top 939 boards."

    Is this ECS a P4 board? :P

    This was a great article. I agree with other readers, CnQ should definately have been tested, as well as audio and IDE subsystems.

    btw Wesley, will there be reviews of KT880 socket A mobos in the future?

  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Just a few comments. It's a little (*little* mind you) unfair to compare FX-53 to P4 560, given the price advantage of the P4. Then again, comparing it to the P4EE is a little unfair in the other direction. It might have been nice to include one or two other systems in the benchmarks, though, like a 3400+. Sure, we can cross-reference other articles, but if you have all the data already it would be a lot cleaner. I'm especially interested in seeing AutoGK benchmarks with the "lesser" Athlon 64 processors (3500+ and 3400+ would be good, or maybe even 3200+ - not everyone has $400+ to spend on a CPU!)

    Of course, while it might be less fair to Intel, I would like to get AutoGK numbers using Xvid as well. That's how I use it, as I feel the quality is a little better than DivX. Oh, and while you state that you used 2-pass encoding, what was the target resolution? 640x360, or 720x408, or something else? And did you specify a target size, or was it on unlimited quality? All those are important questions, I think.

    One final request: I truly appreciate the memory stress testing benchmarks. However, I would like it taken a little further. All of the boards claim that they can support up to 4 GB of RAM. I would love to see some tests showing this configuration. After all, 64-bits is really about breaking that memory barrier. Even if the boards need to run 4x1GB at DDR266 or DDR333, it would be good to know. (Too bad there simply aren't many good 1 GB DIMMs available yet.)
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #14 & #20 - Perhaps tests with the X800 XT on nF3 compared to the 6800 Ultra will at least shed a little light on where the efficiencies lie - in the nF3/nV Video combo or in the nF3 itself.

    #16 - We will make an effort to talk a bit more about Cool'n'Quiet in individual board reviews, but in a roundup like this it is difficult to explore that level of detail, and still hold the article length to anthing you might want to read. We try to do more with features in individual reviews.

    #19 - We report the full range of vCore in our board charts for people like you who are interested in umdervolting. If you notice some boards begin vCore at default, while others make a wide undervolt range available as well as overvolt. We try to report this range as accurately as possible for this reason.
  • Pete - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Wesley, very interesting numbers. Halo is supposedly limited by some inefficient DX9 layers/commands, so I at first thought maybe nV had somehow optimized or bypassed some DX9 calls. The office and Content Creation benchmarks advantage is more puzzling, though. Could nV's performance edge be the result of some intelligent caching or either the HD or the CPU?

    Testing an X800 for reference is a good idea for Halo. Just be sure to retest the office and Content Creation suites, too, as the performance boost there is equally curious, IMO.

    I found one typo, on the system specs page. It's Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, not Wolfenstein: Enemy Within. :)
  • JKing76 - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Sure there's Cool'n'Quiet, but how about adding manual undervolting capabilities to the review? A lot of mobos only allow upping the vcore, but undervolting is a great tool for creating a truely cool and quiet system without losing performance. Reply
  • XRaider - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Love that FX53 and the MSI K8N Neo2 together. Sure is purdy nice!! ;) But must...hold...out...until...price..drops...some..more.. ;o)
    Great article BTW!
  • XRaider - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Love that FX53 and the MSI K8N Neo2 together. Sure is purdy nice!! ;) But must...hold...out...until...price..drops...some..more.. ;o)
    Great article BTW!
  • jojo4u - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    I miss information about Cool'n'Quiet. It's a shame that only is insterested in overclocking and speed. Reply
  • esSJae - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Nice, another article touting the non-existent MSI K8N Neo2.

    Sure, you can go to MSI's Taiwan site and download the manual and BIOS, but doesn't seem to be much point in that.
  • DAPUNISHER - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    "We never expected the nVidia nForce3-250 Ultra to be a better performer in Winstone benchmarks than the VIA K8T800 PRO. However, both the nF3-250 boards are outperforming the VIA boards by a significant percentage. Since the nVidia 6800 Ultra video card was used for all benchmarking in the roundup, we plan to verify these results with an ATI X800 XT as soon as that board is available to the Motherboard Lab for testing"

    Is this to determine if it's a result of forceware opts that is responsible for the difference observed?
  • RyanVM - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Also, networking benches would have been nice (throughput and CPU utilization). It would be interesting to see what kind of impact Gigabyte going with a 3rd party ethernet controller has in comparison to the MSI board using the NF3's controller.

    On a somewhat related note, when will the Neo2 actually be available for purchase?
  • Marlin1975 - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    How about telling board makers to use better Sound for their boards.

    I got my board as it came with a VIA Envy soundcard. When I see RealTek sound that tells me they don;t care about quality, but about what they can say comes with the board.
    Even C-Media has a new full (non-ac97) soundchip out now that can;t be that much more then a realtek 850/650/655 chip.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #7,8,9 - Corrected. Since ECS did use a SiS chip on their VIA board for secondary RAID, I got confused and spread the chipsets around :-) Reply
  • Stefpet - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    ...but when will we see K8T890 or nforce4 motherboards?

    I don't want to be forced to replace the motherboard with a new one to get that top performing PCI Express card later...
  • Crassus - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Final words, somewhere in the middle of the page:
    "The ECS is a remarkable step forward for ECS"

    Great work, though.
  • RyanVM - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Silly me, I meant ECS, not Epox. Reply
  • RyanVM - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    "8 USB 2.0 ports supported by nF3-250" for the K8T800PRO-based Epox KV2? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #4 - Corrected. With more than 9000 words a number typo seems inevitable. Reply
  • BLHealthy4life - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Still can't find the MSI K8n Neo2 mobo for sale anywhere.

    Been waiting and waiting....and waiting some more...

  • AkumaX - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Our FX53 topped out at about 2.59 GHz on the ECS KV2, which is slightly below the 3.6+ achieved on the top 939 boards Reply
  • bigtoe33 - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    Asus USA did block sales of the A8V but some US resellers decided to go it alone with imported european boards.
    While it does p1$$ me off that there were still boards in europe not upto scratch you have to commend Asus USA for blocking sales and trying to at least look after some customers...they are also honouring RMA's also.

    So #1 it does show some resarch was needed before you bought your board as i tried to let everyone know that the first boards available were not PCI lock fixed although any of them do work with the lock and work VERY well.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    #1 - Asus never advertised or listed an AGP/PCI lock as a feature on the original release of the A8V Deluxe. That is the only reason we have not yet reviewed this board. While we did have a sample with a working lock, we have stated in every comment about the A8V in memory reviews and articles that Asus had not yet released a production board with this feature, but that they planned to implement this feature in the future.

    It is also our understanding that the US office even held release of the board to the US market, but many huge on-line vendors direct imported this board or brought it in from European sources. Since we were working with Asus, we know they tried very hard to hold release of this baord until they could work through issues of adding a stable PCI/AGP lock to the A8V.

    It is our understanding than Revision 2.0 will implement an AGP/PCI lock, but we have not yet seen the production board, which we expect this week. We will confirm the new feature when the board is received.

    We tried to caution readers about the AGP/PCI lock on early VIA boards as loudly as we could. In fact we got a lot of flak from manufacturers and VIA about our articles on the problems with the AGP/PCI lock on early VIA boards.

    Asus did not even list the AGP/PCI lock as an option on the AV8 Deluxe. Our suggestion is to contact Asus, but you got the features Asus advertised and listed for this board.
  • shamgar03 - Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - link

    I bought a ASUS A8V like 3 weeks ago, but in the article it says they are re-releasing it or something, does anyone know if they are going to patch that with bios updates, or did I just get the shaft? Reply

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