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  • mob58 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    I sprang for the Ultra-D following Anandtechs Review expecting great things. Unfortunately my experiences with this board have been miserable. I'm going to try to RMA it. I've built about a dozen systems and have never had so many problems. I suppose I just got a bad board, but this has soured my opinion of DFI a bit. Any recommendations for an altenate? Reply
  • Quanticles - Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - link

    There isnt any talk of a standardized SLI format, is there? Reply
  • oldbutdumb - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    I won't get into the DFI trap again. I worked real hard to get the first Lan Party NFII A to work then rma'd it and got the NFII B Ultra. Same story. Too many issues of incompatibilities between bios versions and other hardware used with the boards. I don't know if it's DFI's fault or Nvideas but either way your left with a defective system Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

    #110 - Any 2-slot bridge will work on the DFI. The DFI, Gigabyte, and MSI are all 2-slot bridge designs and interchangable. The Asus A8N-SLI is a 3-slot design, and is longer than the other bridges.

    ALL - As of this date of 2/16 all of the DFI Ultra-D boards in the market are still moddable to SLI. No one has received shipments yet of the new revised nF4 Ultra chipset that can not be modded, but they are expecting the first shipments soon.
  • mikerand - Sunday, February 13, 2005 - link

    the comment on the review says:
    "DFI has advised us, and posted on their website, that they will NOT sell the SLI bridge to buyers of the Ultra board"

    does this mean if you buy an ultra board and mod it that without this bridge you wont be able to run it in sli mode?

    is dfi the only place you can get this bridge from?
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 12, 2005 - link

    Thanks Wesley. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    #106 - YES, the Sil3114 supports SATA drive mode in addition to various flavors of RAID. Yes, the BIOS does have a CAS 1.5 option. Reply
  • Teleri mm - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    Anyone know for sure if the boards at Newegg are still modable?

  • PrinceGaz - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    Another question (shame you didn't answer my previous ones about overclocking and SATA drives, and whether drive(s) connected to the SiI 3114 controller can be used in non-RAID mode).

    Does the BIOS give the option of a CAS 1.5 setting?
  • amgreenwalt - Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - link

    I would like to see a comparison between Asus,Abit,MSI & DFI. My only concern with DFI is the layout. I have a Koolance Case and I like to minimize the amout of cables in the open. Not too sure how that would work in this situation. Is there anyone who has this board with a koolance setup? Reply
  • chevas - Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - link

    Did I miss something? Why do I not see the A8N-SLI deluxe included in these tests?!? Reply
  • Penth - Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - link

    NO SLI Bridge? What am I to do with my Ultra-D now? Reply
  • beany323 - Monday, February 07, 2005 - link

  • bigtoe36 - Monday, February 07, 2005 - link

    many companies have applied chipset tweaks with Asus pioneering PAT on 865PE boards from the onset...seems all of a suden the tier ones are being made to tow the line??? Reply
  • ViRGE - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    Wesley, that's certainly a very believable story. Though Asus is a very good mobo company, they're also who I would suspect any such complainer to be. They're the most powerful tier 1 last I checked, and most likely to lose SLI sales due to semi-SLI, in part because it wouldn't be like them to release their own semi-SLI board. I'd hate to think that someone is trying to kill the modding community like that though. Reply
  • bbomb - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    Nvidia is going to kill off SLI before it even gets off the ground by making it the most insanely difficult and expensive thing for computer users to do. Why cant they make it so that you can just slap in any two nvidia cards and get SLI to work? Why do they have to make it so that motherboards now cost over $250 retail for an SLI version?

    I pray to god that ATI's version is half the price of Nvidias and allows any two ATI cards to work in an SLI fashion just top put Nvida back in their place. I bet the Nvidia prevents any ATI cards from working in SLI mode on any Nforce chipset should ATI get that to work.

    This is what happens when graphics card companies use their chipsets to restrict what computer users can do with that companies video cards. I do belive that Nvidia said that they were two separate businesses but now they must have combined them to place the most restricitons possible through drivers to prevent affordable solutions from coming out.

    F you Nvida it's all ATI and Via for me now.
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    #93 - There was no press at all on the MSI "semi-SLI" Ultra - just a couple of posts on Forums - and nVidia was all over it. MSI said they canned the idea and the nVidia drivers were quickly changed so "semi-sli" would not work with current drivers on the Ultra.

    I doubt it was the press that caused this to happen. Ultra chip shipments were still going to all the manufacturers after the "mod" article went up on January 18th and there was not one word from nVidia until Friday February 4.

    The best we can figure is that a powerful tier 1 manufacturer complained loudly to nVidia late this week that they were losing SLI sales to DFI because of the "illegal" SLI. nVidia was forced to act due to the political clout of this manufacturer.

    Of course nVidia had other options as well. They could have decided to lower the price of SLI and discontinue Ultra, which is what we thought would happen.
  • bigtoe36 - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link


    It was all over the forums MSI had a semi SLI board and NV came down on them hard...nothing was in the "official press" though.

    I have a feeling a tier 1 has moaned here as DFI are tier 2 and probably had no help designing the pretty much went it alone and designed the board how they wanted to.

    I would have thought the best move would have been to lower the cost of SLI and remove the "branding tax" and drop the Ultra chipset.
    Still NV make the decissions here not us.
  • arfan - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    likes what i say, nvida is not stupid, i hope via can make sli mobo with cheap price Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    It's time for another "The message is clear:" thing.
    If chip manufacturers want to sell different products at different prices they should make sure they use DIFFERENT CHIPS! Nobody can pencil mod across a submicron trace. Why oh why do they do this and then put the lock in software?! I suspect it's because they wanted to be able to make a load of generic chips and brand them as the market demands.
    Still... it's stupid! I remember reading AT's article on that pencil mod and had to blink a few times to make sure I was reading it right... :)
  • xsilver - Sunday, February 06, 2005 - link

    Is there already performance benchmarks for ATI's SLI option?? -- it would hardly be surprising that it beats nvidia's solution as it is 6months if not a year after (I did read that they were using differing approaches to SLI) -- I was only stressing that if ATI were in the same position nvidia is in now, they would do the same thing of price gouging, stopping such easy mods etc...
    when ATI's solution comes out nvidia will respond with either lowering their price below ATI or developing their own next gen product -- and the cycle will continue || LATEST = GREATEST - usually :)
  • bob661 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    They probably wouldn't have bothered if there wasn't so much press about it.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    It's only a few tens of dollars difference between an Ultra and official SLI board, given how much you'd be spending on two high-end graphics-cards if you go SLI, why would you even risk saving a few dollars in the first place and sourcing the bridge afterwards?

    The only people who are probably bothered about the Ultra to SLI mod being disabled, are those would would never buy two 6800GTs (or better) anyway. Reviews elsewhere have shown a 6800GT outperforms the 6600GT SLI in almost every game, so using SLI for 6600GTs is stupid.

    DFI would be fools to allow the Ultra to SLI hack to be continued if as a second-tier mobo manufacturer they expect to continue nVidia supplying them with chipsets. Even considering selling the bridge to Ultra owners struck me as foolish in the extreme for them.

    Myself I'll probably get an SLI board even though I'll never use two graphics cards, just because the price difference is so small compared with the other components that go into the system, and a mobo with all the bells and whistles is always nice to have "just in case".

    nVidia have made a great chipset in the nForce4, le's not deprive them of the revenue they deserve by not buying SLI boards if that's what you intend to do, or getting a lower cost board if you don't. Everyone who knows they'll never want to use SLI benefits from the price differential which allows Ultra chipsets to be sold slightly cheaper.
  • Zebo - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    word on the street is buy your ultra board before 2/20 if you want to use Wes' SLI discovery...still does'nt help you find a bridge..

    xsilver- Bullheads about to beat NF4 like a drum, hold your tounge. I don't blame nvidia but I also belive in the FREEDOM of mobo makers to do what they will with a chipset they purchased...not to be lorded over by nivida on the back end.
  • erios666 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    Well, that update freaked me out. Ultra-D on order. ZZF seems to be the cheapest that's in stock. I'm still hoping to be able to play my vids in a surround gaming mode 3840x1024. We'll hafta see. Reply
  • Locut0s - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    It's a disappointment that Nvidia has decided to making modding these boards harder but hardly a surprise. If anything it's surprising they didn't do this earlier. Reply
  • bupkus - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    Competition from ATI is the only answer to this price gouge. Do you remember back before AMD's Athlon when it was just Intel with AMD and Cyrix trailing far behind? Reply
  • xsilver - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    lol -- bullhead will also be bullshit if ATI were in the same position -- nvidia is losing $30 per modded chip -- they want to reduce the possibilities of this --- duh! -- other mods were not 100% guaranteed - eg. opening pipes etc. but this was -- Reply
  • Zebo - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    The more I deal with nvidia scum (PVP on my $450 card anyone?) the more I think I'm waiting for bullhead (ati's chipset).. Reply
  • CrystalBay - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    Keep up the good work oldman :)

    Signed another oldman... :0
  • Avalon - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    If you don't like the exclusive, wait for the NF4 roundup. It's that simple. Just because you feel enough data wasn't included in an ARTICLE, doesn't mean that Anandtech does not have such data in their LABS waiting to be released. Again, wait for the roundup. Reply
  • overclockingoodness - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    Justimann: Like others pointed out, Wesley is one of the most respected journalists in this industry. And AnandTech is one of the best sites as well, so I doubt they will be putting their integrity on line just to get a damn exclusive. AnandTech is just like any business but I am proud to say that I have hardly seen any bias on this site (the only bias may be disagreement between my interpretion of the reviwer's words).

    AnandTech would never recommend anything unless they are confident about it and even if the data is not on the graph, we trust AnandTech's editors.
  • DEMO24 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    I dont remeber if people have asked this yet(having a feeling they have, but I dont want to read 5 pages of replys;)) but do you guys at Anandtech still have some Winchestor CPUs lieing around? Would be nice to see how far you could get one :) Reply
  • bersl2 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    #79, #80: It's got nothing to do with any of that. SLI nForce4 chips have a price premium on them. Every Ultra sold instead of an SLI means less money for nVidia. Reply
  • joe4324 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    Its more likely that nvidia doesnt want to deal with supporting hardware running out of spec AND beyond its intentions, There not stupid, they know how people are. Even if this board preformed perfectly in all ways, UNTILL you modded it. then it caught fire. They would be slamed for being unreliable and unsafe, and thus not worth buying. even though it was the best mobo out at the time, when NOT modded. Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    I don't get it. Why did nVidia do this? If anybody did a mod to SLI they had to buy two nVidia video cards to use SLI. So nVidia got more profit. Looks like they couldn't lose with SLI only working with nV cards.

    Guess nVidia has now totally forgotten their gaming and enthusiast roots and they're just another big company throwing around their weight. Maybe ATI will do better.
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, February 05, 2005 - link

    The following Update has just been added to the front page of the review:

    "UPDATE 2/05/2005: nVidia has acted to prevent, or at least make it more difficult, to mod the Ultra board to SLI. First, DFI has advised us, and posted on their website, that they will NOT sell the SLI bridge to buyers of the Ultra board. Second, nVidia has advised us that future shipments of the Ultra chipset have been modified so that the mod to SLI will no longer be possible. An additional side effect of this second action is that the "Dual Video" mode, which performs at about 90% of SLI performance levels, will only work with early nVidia drivers 66.75 or earlier. If you do a quick check of web driver postings you will see it is now very difficult to find 66.75 drivers. With a chipset modded to SLI the "Dual Video" mode worked through 70.xx versions of the nVidia driver. nVidia also made it clear they will continue to make driver changes to prevent operation of any "non-standard" (8X/8X) operation of their SLI driver. This also throws into question whether the VIA "dual graphics" mode on the 894 Pro chipset will ever work with nVidia graphics cards. If you are interested in the current UT Ultra-D we suggest you buy one now if you can find it. Future versions of the UT Ultra-D will not have the same capabilities as a result of these actions."
  • ImJacksAmygdala - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    I guess beauty is hard to quantify. Like Wesley said he has saved the Editor's Choice Award for the SLI board review that will provide more hard data to support his opinion on the DFI board. Reply
  • justinmann - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    Dear Gerbil, I am not wasting my time. I read the article, and like any good scientist I looked at the data. The data do not support the conclusions, therefore I felt it necessary to ask why he did not perform an experiment that backed up his proclamation. It's really a pretty simple concept.

  • Happy Buddha - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    Hey Wesley,
    You did use a IDE HDD for benchmarking so the question about SATA and overclocking pop right to my mind: Is Overclocking as stable with SATA drives?!?

    I know that the NF3 250GB was, but sometime engineer can make silly mistake. ;)

    An can you or DFI confirm that the low end (Utra-D) will have as much success with OC? Thanks...
  • Gerbil333 - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    justinmann, why are you wasting your time at this site? There's nothing wrong with the review, so if you don't like it, then don't come here. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    #71 - We also did exclusive reviews of the MSI SLI at the Gigabyte Ultra at, the Gigabyte SLI at, and the Asus SLI at

    However, the focus in those reviews varied from video to chipset to motherboard, and the previous testing was therefore not conducive to comparison in this review. That is why we are doing an SLI roundup to bring all these boards and information together in a consistent head-to-head roundup.
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    #71 - We are always "boning for" exclusive coverage of new items. It is one advantage a major site like AT has over smaller sites. An exclusive also does not make any of us one dime at AT, but it can increase readership if it is a much anticipated item, like this DFI board. It is a matter of honor and respect, and we are flattered so many manufacturers have enough respect for our Editorial integrity and readership that we are often offered exclusive reviews.

    I stated my opinion in the article, which I stand by. I did not award an Editor's Choice since those should be reserved IMO for roundups or onging review series where there is much more comparative data. I will likely award an Editors Choice for best SLI board when that roundup appears.
  • justinmann - Friday, February 04, 2005 - link

    Of course, that was not the bulk of my complaint Wesley. If you had read my post, which was much more concise than your article, you would have seen that I was asking why no other retail NF4 boards', which have been available for quite some time, benchmarks were included. Your response to my question points even more strongly to an apparent lack of journalistic integrity on your part. Are you boning for more exclusive coverage deals Wes?
    If you imply that this is the best nf4 board, which is what you did, you should provide ammunition to back it up. You failed to do that, and now have failed to justify why you failed to do that.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    #68 - Retailers can charge whatever they wish for the DFI boards or anything else. The $140 and $200 are expected street prices once the pricing settles down. It took quite a while for the new video cards to reach "street-price" levels and the same may be true of the DFI nF4 boards.

    We are told prices in Europe are higher.
  • Rapsven - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    It's because their motherboard is so ungodly. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    According to the Inq the prices are:
    "DFI is shipping three models: LANParty NF4 SLI-DR, LANPartyUT NF4 SLI-R and LANPartyUT NF4 Ultra-D. The first two boards are based on SLI and the last one is based on Nforce 4 Ultra chipset. Suggested retail prices for these boards are $229 and $189 for the two SLI boards, and $159 for Ultra board."]

    Wesley, could you please check with DFI what the final suggested prices for these 3 boards are? The review mentions $140 but I believe they changed their minds after all the feedback.

  • Zebo - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    Owned... now Justin, go get yourself one of these bad mobos. OC or not I'd like to see you satisfed..she'll do it in spades.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    #65 - The DFI is available for sale NOW, which you would know if you had actually read the review. AnandTech had an exclusive on this board which is why this is the first review posted of the DFI. I waited to post the review until the same day zipzoomfly and others would likely have the boards for sale - most are now sold out I am told by readers.

    You would also know if you had read the review that we will be posting an SLI roundup next week comparing all SLI capable boards in single and SLI mode. We have been waiting for the Epox, but it will not likely be available in time for the roundup - which now includes Gigabyte (already tested here), DFI, Asus, and MSI.

    Criticism is welcomed and helps us, but it would be appreciated if you actually read the review before you make comments like this.
  • justinmann - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    It seems a bit premature to call this "the best nf4 board" when it's the only production model nf4 board even in the review. Seems to me that with the arrival of the MSI board last week, and the asus, gigabyte and chaintech boards weeks before, Anandtech could easily include more nf4 competition. Instead they have chosen to put an unavailable board up against outdated competition. It's a strange call in my estimation.

    When can we expect to see it compared to other boards with the same chipset?

  • flachschippe - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    Why is the A8N missing from the comparison? Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    WHAT BIAS??? Please spell it out for me as I don't see it. This a bad arse mobo... I wager best Wes ever seen and used in years of comp building time... I'm suprised he's not even more animated... and even to dwell on insignifigant "short comings" later in article shows me he was giving a fair shake...leaving "best" PCIe 939 title open even though he knows in back of mind DFI already won...:) Reply
  • byvis - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    #55 I agree that this board is very good in overclocking and etc... But I'm telling what I thoughts came to me reading this article. Until now I haven't read such biased and praying article. Everything has drawbacks, even ultra extreme mbs... Professional shouldn't express their opinion like this. I can, you can, but not professionals... This is ofcours IMHO :) So don't flame me :) Reply
  • erios666 - Thursday, February 03, 2005 - link

    #60 - Ha! Excellent point Zebo and I'd have to agree. As an enthusiast I'll take care of the sound myself thank you. Just as I would the video. Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Cheeezzzusss...some people....

    LOL get em flexy.

    Also those people complianing about sound are kinda weird. even if they put 880 or SB live on there it's still crap if you're at all interested in hifi. Plus it adds $20 to mobo cost... for "just ok" sound. NO THANKS. I'd prefer they drop sound all together (save $8+) as this is an enthusiast board.. not an all in one..notice thiers no on-board graphics?
  • Shinei - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    The message is clear: DDR2 has failed! DDR636 at EXTREMELY reasonable latencies--color me impressed.
    I'd like to see how this board handles Crucial's Ballistix RAM, since Ballistix is pretty cheap on the Egg (~$220 for the pair of 512MB sticks) and performs like TCCD; would be interesting to see what the DFI can take the Micron chips to, considering the legs it gives to TCCD chips...
  • Gerbil333 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #54: Considering Abit's best engineer, Oscar Wu, has been working for DFI for a while, I doubt Abit will change much. Abit's last good board was the NF7-S. Since then, they seem to have gone downhill. DFI has only been improving. Reply
  • flexy - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    my bad..nevermind...i confused the MSI board with the dfi....the dfi is NOT the one with the onboard sb live :) Reply
  • flexy - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #42, you can have the SB live onboard sound with the SLI-DR...well....and the Ultra ius cheaper and comes with the crappy sound. WHO CARES ????
    I got a Audigy 2 Value for $42.

    If you NEED the good onboard sound..then get the SLI-DR board....if not get a pci soundcard.
  • flexy - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    The board is nice, but not outstanding, incredible, top performing, etc... Jesus AnandTech I have never seen you so biased. I hope that the benchmarks don't lie. Poor preview, poor...

    ehrm...its the best and fastest enthusiast's NF4 board right now with the best overclocking capabilities AND a way to "mod" it to a SLI...what do you want more ? Cheeezzzusss...some people....
  • ShadowVlican - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    beautiful analogy #22

    for now i guess this is THE best AMD64 board money can buy... i wonder if Abit's AN8 will change the results...
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Can hard-drives be installed in non-RAID mode on the Sil3144 sockets with this board?

    As far as I know, the additional controller on the Asus SLI Deluxe board requires SATA drives to be in a RAID configuration and does not support individual drives. Can you confirm if that is the case with the DFI board.
  • erios666 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #49 - Thanks much Wesley. I did actually see that. I still feel it doesn't answer the question of whether or not you can span all those monitors. It will work great for when I'm at work. Which I can accomplish with an AGP plus a PCI vid card. But I am hoping to get some "surround gaming" going in UT2004, HL2 and NFSU2. So *span* capabilites with a 3840x1024 res' I guess is what I'm looking for rather than a simple multi-mon. Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    This is what I call a "ten year board" ...a motherboard built to last (jap caps, mosfets, al cooled etc), with every feature imaginable... you DON"T have to be an overclocker to get this board. In fact it's probably the best mobo ever built for the price using componets found in high-end server boards costing hundreds more. You should buy this DFI reguarless if you plan to overclock or not.

    That said... it's overclcoking options leave me speechless..never has a board came with these kind of heavy duty options..2.1 Vcore..4Vdimm..fuggin incredible. And it shows...guys at xtreme are posting over 400HTT with this bad boy.

    Just'd have to bee a damn fool to buy any other skt 939 mobo, or any mobo for that matter over DFI...
  • Stiganator - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Between the A8n-SLI and this DFI SLI board which would you choose? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #48 - DFI has responded to your question.

    "That's what we call "Dual Xpress Graphics" technology, supporting 2 video cards simulatneously and therefore 4 monitors. The DFI Ultra-D in normal mode will support up to 4 monitors off 2 video cards"
  • erios666 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Please please does anyone know if it will be possible to do a 3 monitor span on the Ultra-D?!
    I beg of you! I want to do something like a Matrox Parhelia but with more 3D power. I've already got all my lcds and now I'm just sitting and waiting to see how this all pans out.
  • nserra - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Athlon 64 3200+ (Socket754) ALL 1003
    Athlon 64 3000+ (Socket754) ALL ALL
    Athlon 64 3400+ (Socket754) ALL ALL
    Athlon 64 2800+ (Socket754) ALL 1003
    Athlon 64 3700+ (Socket754) ALL 1003
    Sempron 3100+ (CG version) (Socket754) ALL 1004
    Sempron 3100+ (D0 version) (Socket754) ALL 1005

    Any one know how sempron 3100+ D0 overclocks?
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Instead of answering emails, we asked DFI to name some vendors who would likely have boards this week. They suggested New Egg, Frys (and their online store), NCIX, zipzoomfly, and Monarch Computer. DFI also says Tiger Direct and Microcenter will have them by next week.

    That's all we know and it's straight from DFI, so PLEASE stop emailing us asking where to buy. Thanks!
  • HardwareD00d - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Onboard sound has pretty much always been crap, with a few exceptions (Sound Storm). I wasn't too impressed with Via Envy24 BTW. An add-in soundcard is the best way to go IMHO.
    * waits for Creative to get off there a$$ and make a PCI-e soundcard with Dolby Digital Encoding *
  • rjm55 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    It looks like your praise for the DFI riled the competition in #26. Frankly it is good to see your enthusiasm for the DFI. It is nice to see some excitement come through in the review.

    Over the years of reading your reviews I've learned that if you get excited it's a product I'll be very happy with. I just wish you could persuade DFI to use a VIA Vinyl codec instead of that very pedestrian Realtek 850. It's a shame to waste the potential of the Audio Module on the 850. This board deserves better.
  • bupkus - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Oops, my bad. I need to wait until Epox releases their nForce4. Reply
  • Illissius - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Awesome board. Unfortunately, not perfect. I find the following faults with it:
    - The second GbE is PCI and not PCIe.
    - It uses the same crappy Realtek audio everyone else does, rather than Creative SBLive (a la MSI SLI) or VIA Envy24PT.
    - Its color scheme is not blue thingies-that-are-not-the-PCB on a black PCB.
    These shortcomings conspire to demote it from the status of 'awesomest motherboard in the history of history' to 'best A64 motherboard thus far, and possibly ever'.

    Have a nice day :D.

    As for the review; for the most part great, except... using 61.77 drivers for everything else, and 71.40 for the nForce4, probably invalidates all the gaming scores, as there have been significant performance improvements from the 61.77 to the 66.93, and I would imagine the 71.40 doesn't regress in this regard.
    Also, I'm interested in the maglev chipset cooler. Is there any visual difference from a standard cooler? Is it quieter, at least?
  • bupkus - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Was there anything good about the competition? Were they cheaper and almost as good, like a second place winner for us cheap economy guys. How about the Epox? Reply
  • knitecrow - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    The DFI board is very nice, and if anyone is going to overclock, this board is the one to get. For non-overclockers, MSI board looks good as well.

    The chipset fan seems gimicky, I wish it had a bigger heatsink with a more efficient fan.

    I am reading correctly between the lines? Is Nvidia charging some insane SLI tax? I like to see what DFI can do with the upcomming ATI chipset for athlon64.

    I can tell you from personal experience that the realtek ALC850 (also used on my DFI UT nF3 250GB) is absolute crap. And I am not being picky either. My old soundblaster 16 sounds better. Gone are the days of good audio on the NFII. There are SO many better choices, why not go with a better AC'97 codec? Via Vinyl, sigmatel, cirius logic?

    Its really dumb to go through all the trouble of having an add-in card and then use the worst AC'97 codec chip on the market.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #39 - The FrontX is a "breakout box" that installs in a drive bay and provides front audio, usb, firewire, and SATA ports in this design. FrontX also features diagnostic LEDs that tell you how the board is functioning.

    We covered FrontX in detail in past LANParty reviews which you can look up at AnandTech. It is a modular design. You can also find more info at

    SPDIF is a digital audio input and output. I'm sure others here will explain more about SPDIF.
  • DeanO - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Does anyone know what the FrontX and Diagnostic LED Connector, that are included with the SLI-DR motherboard, do?
    The manual says:
    One FrontX device equipped with:
    - 4 diagnostic LEDs, 1 S/PDIF-out, 1 mini 1394 port and 1 Serial ATA port
    The article doesn't seem to mention it anywhere, and neither does the DFI website.
    What do the LEDs do? And what is an S/PDIF-out?

    Thanks ~ DeanO
  • Aileur - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Any idea how much the SLI bridge will go for, seperately?
    I can see it being as much as 20$, bringing the price difference between real SLI and modded SLI to a point where youd have to ask yourself, do i wanna risk it.
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #35 - 318 (DDR636) is the highest clock speed we have acheived with THIS memory at 1T with DS dimms in dual-channel mode AT ANANDTECH. The previous 1T record with this setup was 295.

    We are aware you can reach higher speeds with single-sided dimms and a single dimm, but users don't generally run their machines with 2 256MB SS dimms. We have seen reports of memory speeds of DDR680 and even higher with single-sided dimms.

    You can also reach higher speeds with a configuration with water-cooling or phase-change cooling or liquid nitrogen.

    The important thing in our opinion is performance with the exact same setup, and here the DFI reached new performance levels with this memory and this CPU with air cooling.

  • mctmcpoop - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    318 is not the highest record ...
    The HTT record of this board is 456mhz ...

    The 1:1 DRAM record is DDR750 ...
  • bigtoe36 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    regarding the NF3 939 i hear NF3 may disapear soon so we may never see an AGP version of this board. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    DFI has advised that the final nF4 product line will consist of 3 models. The information on page 2 has been revised to reflect the latest information.

  • bigtoe36 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    The extra molex is to add extra power to the board especially when using 2 video cards.

    The chipset fan is very quiet and does work quite well. When stressed the chipset does get quite warm though but I have seen no instability on my boards here and all use stock chipset cooling.

    The board will work with 20 and 24 pin ATX connectors.

    The SLI bridge can only be sold with SLI boards, you will be able to but it seperately though.
  • jwix - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for this board. Finally, Anandtech posts this review late last night just as someone posts in the forum that the board is stocked at ZZF. I surf to ZZF. Indeed, the board is in stock. I quicky read the review then return to ZZF to buy. Board is out of Stock. *sigh* I'm betting the price of this board goes up before it goes down. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    A good review overall. Some questions I'd have liked to see answered though:

    a)As others have said, what is the 5.25" Molex power connector on the board for?
    b)ATX power connectors - does the board require the 24-pin, or, like other boards, will a 20pin +4pin P4 connector run it just fine?
    c) I'd have liked a little more detail on the maglev chipset fan, was it noisy, the design, etc. I'm being picky, but it's a new feature and all of us get annoyed when a northbridge HSF fails, especially if it's in a location where you can't replace it with just anything due to expansion cards.
    d)Question on the SLI finger-board: It seems like it doesn't come with the non-SLI boards, if it doesn't, how useful is it to be able to convert this to SLI? I've not seen retailers selling them separately.

    I like the boards. Only minor gripe is, I still need an onboard serial port, I use it for things like configuring a router now and again. Hopefully they include a backplate for it at least, though I'd doubt it.
  • Burbot - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #22: It would be a good idea to look back at history of industries. When was the last time a sprinter broke a record by 8%? Probaby in first days of organized sprint. When was the last time processor speed increased by 8%? Every A64 200MHz speedbump gave slightly bettter improvements. 8% is difference between 2.4 and 2.6 GHz Athlon FX. Does one demolish the other? Or it is "merely" a fair improvement? I side with the latter.

    I do not want to diminish DFI effort, but I'd reserve "demolished" to huge improvements, as in "that A64 machine demolishes my Duron box".
  • lsman - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #14. it provides extra current when under SLI mode so its more "stable" Reply
  • Aquila76 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I've said it before, I'll ask for it again:

    SLI Mobo Roundup.

  • byvis - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    The board is nice, but not outstanding, incredible, top performing, etc... Jesus AnandTech I have never seen you so biased. I hope that the benchmarks don't lie. Poor preview, poor... Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    ChineseDemocrcyGNR - Thank you for all your replies to reader's questions.

    #22 - Good analogy and a very accurate descrip-tion of breaking records at the top end. New CPU's are often hyped to the heavens and often they don't even do 8% more performance than the one they replace. Breaking new ground at the top is quite different than 8% in the middle.
  • LordConrad - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    It's been a year or two since the last time I researched motherboard features, so maybe I'm out of the loop. Isn't it unusual for a consumer level motherboard to offer RAID-5? This is certainly the first such board I've heard of. I wonder if the RAID-5 support is hardware or software based. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    "Few questions can you fit say a x1 pci-e card into a x4 pci-e slot??? "

    Yes you can.
  • eetnoyer - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    #18 Would you consider a 100m sprinter who broke the old world record by 8% to have demolished the record? What you have to realized, is that these boards are performing at the very edge of what's possible today. While a compact car exceeding the Chevy Cobalt's top speed by 8% would make everybody yawn, a car that exceeds the Bugatti Veyron's top speed (252mph) by 8% would be pretty remarkable.

    Irregardless, this looks to be a very respectable board whether you want to OC or not. For the features that are on the board, $140 for an nforce4 board isn't all that bad. And just like the S754 board, I'm sure the price will come down significantly after a little while.
  • Trente - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Man, I remember we used to laugh at DFI back in year 2000; How was it possible for a low-end maker to became the best brand for all die hard overclockers? someone should write a book about it... Reply
  • Manzelle - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link


    Where are the AGP/PCIe boards...better yet, where is DFI's nForce3 939 board...
  • arfan - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    1. why another board maker don't try to make motherboard likes DFI Ultra have ? Because it's a big oppurtunity to buy Ultra than SLI
    2. What do u think Nvidia do to make this board DFI Ultra not functionally likes SLI ? Just tweak driver or likes AMD in the past, change chipset in their factory ? so people can't do likes anand do.
  • Burbot - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I do not like this phrase from Final Words:

    We reached 318x9 at 1T Command Rate - performance that demolished our previous best of 295 1T with this same memory.

    This is a gain of 8% over old result. Would you consider a car with maximum speed 8% higher than competitor model to be "demolishing" it? I don't think so. I consider this to be a "fair improvement" over previous result, and not a "demolishing" one.
  • 1q3er5 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Few questions can you fit say a x1 pci-e card into a x4 pci-e slot???

    4 volts for RAM but your going to need active cooling, and how do you manage that.

  • Bozo Galora - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I dont see what all the shouting is about
    Sure its a nice board, but, unless you are an EXTREME overclocker the NF3 is plenty close enough, and the big surprise here is the Epox
  • johnson - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I was hoping for a look at results of other memory as well, besides only the ocz ddr400. Perhaps the upcoming round up will use various memory sticks. Reply
  • Jynx980 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Eh..whats the molex connector for? (4 picture, page 3, next to the fan connector) Just more power to the mobo? Havent put a new system together for awhile.. Reply
  • TheInvincibleMustard - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Also, does anyone know if the SI3114 chip does on-chip parity calculation for its RAID-5 or is that shoved off to the CPU? It's sad to see that the SI3114 doesn't support SATA-II, either. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    the first pics had the connector, but they have updated them since.

    when nVidia says "top board maker" they don't care about quality, they care about how many chips the company buys from them. As an example I can mention Gigabyte and their nF3-Ultra boards.

    I'm afraid that won't be possible until a new revision of the A64 is out.

  • reactor - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    i count 24 pins.. Reply
  • johnson - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Is it an atx 24 pin + 4 pin or the stated 20 pin + 4 pin? Reply
  • TheInvincibleMustard - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Looks like a fantastic board, but just sad that it can't handle 4 DS DIMMs at 1T. I was really looking forward to having 2GB memory and still great response times. Oh well.

    DFI's on my shortlist for my next purchase! (that is, if I can find them in stock ... they were at ZZF but sold out in about an hour (SLI) to two hours (Ultra) :`(
  • arfan - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Great Job 4 DFI, now they are not bad or middle board maker but in the top board maker. I afraid what nvidia will do with this ??? They will not keep silence see this DFI board :( Reply
  • Googer - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link Reply
  • Penth - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    I've already placed my order for one. I did see the SLI PCB connector in the box in all the pictures I saw, so I am disappointed to read that I won't actually be receiving one. I hope it isn't too difficult to get my hands on one. Reply
  • Avalon - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    This board is perfect for PCI-e users. Hot damn. Reply
  • ksherman - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    damn i wish i had the money... Reply
  • Tiamat - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Wow, i really dig the board layout. Reply
  • erios666 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Now if someone could get the Ultra-D to a 3 monitor span like a Matrox Parhelia then I'd be all over this board! Reply
  • sxr7171 - Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - link

    Pretty confusing product line but nice boards. Reply

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