NVIDIA: New nForce4 Chipsets

by Gary Key & Wesley Fink on 1/17/2006 9:00 AM EST


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  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    The XE lacks the broken firewall, but includes better audio.

    I am disappointed that review sites (yes, you) continue to advertise Nvidia's broken firewall as a feature but fail to actively investigate the problems that have been repeatedly reported. It doesn't sound like you have thoroughly tested the firewall, including downloading large files to various NCQ-enabled hard drives, or tried using the firewall after upgrading the drivers. If you have done any these things, you haven't reported them to us. I seriously doubt you have, as you would have encountered some type of problem by now.

    Your readers sincerely appreciate you avoiding the serious questions and problems. Thanks!
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    In addition to the internal testing Gary talked about, we also pressed nVidia hard to investigate the reported problems with the Firewall. We sent them a list of complaints in our Forums, and nVidia actually worked directly with a group of AT readers to try to duplicate the reported problems.

    In the end they found, as we did, that the issue was mostly related to software install sequence and whether the installation was a clean install. You may not like what we or nVidia found, but I can assure you we took our reader comments VERY seriously and pressed nVidia to look into the reported problems with the Firewall.
  • Kha - Friday, January 20, 2006 - link

    Hi to all,

    A year ago i bought a MSI K8N NEO 2 Platinum, this motherboard, with a nvidia nForce 3 Ultra chipset, had problems from the very start.

    Just after installing Windows XP SP2 for first time, the system had BSOD problems with the nVidia embeded hardware firewall, I had to disable the firewall completelly to avoid these BSODs.

    Part of my setup was a SVGA BFG GFORCE 6800 ultra OC (Overclocked) and i had issues with constant pauses. The graphics would stop for 5~10 seconds every 3~5 seconds only for Direct 3D games.

    I had issues with the nVidia Serial Ata drivers and i had use the Windows ones to avoid BSODs too.

    Yes, i know this was a nForce 3 and a lot of time has passed since i built my rig, but as time passes i don't see any real advance in stability for the entire nForce series of nVidia chipsets.

    Much, much time passed before nVidia launched a new nForce 3 unified driver after the 5.10 one and the issues was not corrected too in the last one. This latest driver for nForce 3 gave installation issues too.

    Sorry, but with this situation i have lost any confidence with nVidia and their products.

    Thank you all. Kind regards.
  • Tanclearas - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    I just completely rebuilt my PC over the holidays, and yes it is a completely fresh install of Windows XP SP2 with no p2p software installed. The latest Nvidia drivers were used from the start, integrated into the Windows install using nLite. The motherboard is an Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe. The only apps installed are SpeedFan, CPU-Z (which aren't really "installed" in the Windows sense), FEAR, and AVG.

    I have experienced download corruption in large files saved to both my Seagate 7200.7 and Samsung SATA2 drives, using various SATA ports. There are two ways to resolve it. The first is to disable the Nvidia firewall completely. The second is to set the default behaviour for the firewall to "not offloadable". Once again, this second option is essentially disabling the advertised "built-in hardware accellerated" feature.

    Prior to my A8N32-SLI, I had the A8N-SLI Deluxe, and I was never able to upgrade the drivers without having NAM start causing BSOD's within seconds. I uninstalled previous drivers, and yes even used Driver Cleaner. The only p2p software I used then was Kazaa Lite, and it was hardly ever running.

    Honestly, I think there would be even more people reporting the problem, but most probably just don't bother with the Nvidia firewall knowing that it's going to be a problem.
  • Gary Key - Thursday, January 19, 2006 - link

    I have not tried slipstreaming the drivers into the XP load. However, I did load a clean image, the 6.72 platform drivers, 81.98 video drivers, and your applications (AVG was the free version 7). I ran the same downloads only this time with FireFox 1.5 and did not experience any corruptions on either a Maxtor or WD SATA drive. In fact, I transferred the same files across my network through another machine with the Nvidia Firewall and still did not have issues. Please email me your firewall settings.

    Also, regardless of whether the p2p software is running or not, the hooks in place upon installation will cause issues with the firewall setup.
  • drewintheav - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    The Nvidia firewall has corrupted downloads using Internet Explorer on EVERY clean install of XP SP2 using 3 different motherboards the Asus A8N32-SLI, the Abit A8N-SLI, and the DFI Expert. With no other software installed at all... Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link


    The Nvidia firewall has corrupted downloads using Internet Explorer on EVERY clean install of XP SP2 using 3 different motherboards the Asus A8N32-SLI, the Abit A8N-SLI, and the DFI Expert. With no other software installed at all...

    I downloaded 16 programs consisting of 700gbs of data last night with IE and did not have a corruption error on the Asus A8N-SLI Premium. I will run the tests tonight with FireFox 1.5.

    Email me with your settings and any program installations besides XP SP2 and we will try to duplicate your issues for NVIDIA.
  • drewintheav - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    I meant to type Abit AN8-SLI Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    We have thoroughly tested the NVIDIA firewall options with our test suite. We have only had issues in our test beds (BSOD with NVTCP.SYS) after upgrading the drivers without first uninstalling the previous driver set. We have downloaded files from 300mbs to 3.5gbs to our Maxtor and WD NCQ-enable drives without an issue when utilizing a clean XP install, our benchmark image, and the latest NVIDIA platform drivers.

    However, we have been able to replicate a couple of issues listed below in personal testing but only after loading a combination of programs and driver sets. We will see if NVIDIA has any further comments and report back.

    Are you using a p2p program for file transfers and the NVIDIA SW-IDE drivers? If so, I can understand if you are having issues especially with BitTorrent at this time. This combination and others like it (µTorrent/Limewire) seem to create memory leaks that eventually lead to a BSOD condition or file corruptions (Firefox downloads are iffy also but not IE). We have also found that these same p2p programs create issues with other firewall programs, games, and applications like StarDock's Object Desktop software suite.

    Please realize, you can load any number of software combinations and find issues with the hardware. The question becomes is there a true issue with the hardware or the software of which there are tens of thousands of combinations available. Try enabling an SLI profile and then launching Limewire as an example. ;-)

    Thank you.
  • BATCH71 - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    The Nforce chipset is a loser in the overclocking department with Intel. FACT! I have hit a wall at 1133 and my 3.73 is merely coasting at 3.96Ghz. I had the same chip in an Intel955X Abit AW-8 running and benching consistantly at 4.7Ghz, I ran it daily at 4.5Ghz. Beware that the Nforce chipset is a stinker at the high end. Thanks, Dave Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Sorry that your experinces werent stellar, but your results arent typical, nor are they "FACT". Other reviewers have gotten excellent overclocking results from the Nvidia Intel chips:


    It seems to depend heavily on the motherboard mft, just as with 945 overclocking as well. Early revision Abit boards, for example, proved to be poor overclockers, while the latest are much better. Simple BIOS upgrades as well have proven to do wonders for some. Really, if you jumped on the first gen board from ANY builder, you are likely going to get burned, regardless of the chipset builder. i820 anyone?

    As it stands, the Nvidia boards are poised to make a serious run at intel's offerings... including the high end. They have the performance, they have the stability, and they have all the high end features, including overclocking. It will be interesting to see if intel has anything up their sleeve.
  • BATCH71 - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    No, every review I have read except for one has made claim that the Nforce chipset sucks at very high bus speeds compared to the 955 or 945. Yes the 800FSB OC like crazy because they will never get to the very high bus speeds required for the high end 1066 chips. Sorry.

    I did read one review and the reviewer made claims that the P5N32-SLI "overclock real good" with the Award bios, to bad it uses AMI bios, Pfft.....

    Cmon Intel 975xx crack that Nvidia SLI code ;)
  • Slaimus - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    I hope these new chipsets fix the compatbility problems with the low end Pentium D chips that the original SLI had. Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Those issues are gone with the two new releases today and the nForce4 SLIx16 chipsets. Reply
  • Slaimus - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

  • hans007 - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    look at the size of that heatsink fan unit on the chipset in the pictures.

    that thing is huge
  • Joepublic2 - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    It's bigger than the HSF on my old coppermine P3. I wonder how large the die is, and what process it's being built with. Nvidia has a long way to go before they can compete with intel in the chipset market. Intel's chipsets might not have as many features, but at least the ones that they do have work properly. Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    No Active armor on these? Isn't that a good thing? I suppose getting a quirky feature that you can disable is better than not getting it at all but not having to pay for it is nice... as is HD audio. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Good report, Wes.

    What I'm really annoyed by is that it appears that I will slowly be forced into buying an SLI mainboard if I want all the features. I don't WANT SLI. I don't NEED SLI. I'l NEVER USE SLI. I find it a costly waste of my money when I can wait for the next performance graphics card and buy one good one at a time. Boards with SLI are also less likely to have three standard PCI slots, which I still have use for.
    But, it appears that if one wants an Intel mainboard with the hardware-accelerated firewall, they'll have no choice. This causes me concern, as I'd be willing to bet nVidia will go the same route with AMD boards at some point. Whatever happened to those who want all the features, but think SLI is a gimmick designed to upsell video cards (specifically, nVidia cards)?
  • ottawo - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Nvid can take thier chipsets and throw them into a gameboy. After my experience with nForce4 chipsets I would never choose nvid- at least not until they really mature and fix thier core logic bugs. Unless your building a gaming rig AND know how a little about how a motherboard/system works, stay away from these chipsets is my advice to my friends. Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Nvidia chipsets are hard to setup? Huh? Are you serious?

    Really, if your friends dont know how to use hardrive autodetect in their bios settings, they shouldnt be building their own computesr in the first place.

    Ive used, SiS, ULi, Intel, ATI, Via, Nvidia, and Intel chipsets for builds in the last 2 months... and they are all identical in the setup department, more or less. The only major bug i can think of in the NF4 rigs was Active Armor, and i hear its been fixed, as well as the original problems with the Intel SLI X16 chipsets that too has been fixed... I can think of more problems than that in chipsets from ATI, Intel, sis etc...
  • mino - Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - link

    He did NOT mention it is tough to setup.

    Nvidia simply makes gamboy like products.

    Whether you like it or not nf4 IS buggy, nor ULi, nor Intel nor VIA has such a buggy product on the market right now. Only ATI's screwed USB on the SB400/SB450 are comparable but you can use Uli for that here.

    If you are building gaming machine - go for nF4, if you are making production systems, stay away from it.
  • Regs - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    That this is actually a bad thing for Intel since they have a actual competitor. Reply
  • MrSmurf - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Intel has chipsets that support Crossfire. Plus Inten is known for their stability. It's not that bad of a thing for Intel. Reply
  • FinFET - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    I know it's probably a screen cap, but when will people stop refering to 3Gbps SATA as SATA2.

    http://www.sata-io.org/namingguidelines.asp">Dispelling the Confusion: SATA II does not mean 3Gb/s
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    SATA2 does NOT mean 3Gb/s, as you point out, but 3Gb/s DOES mean SATA2. In other words, not all SATA2 is 3Gb/s, but all 3Gb/s is SATA2. Reply
  • fitten - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    I think he's refering to http://www.sata-io.org/namingguidelines.asp">this...
    Basically, there is no such term as SATA2 or SATAII or whatever.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Calling it SATA-IO does not dispell any confusion, since all SATA-IO is not 3GB/s, but 3Gb/s is by definition a SATA-IO drive. The point is 3Gb/s is only one of the new SATA possible features, but it is not a necessary feature for a drive to be SATA2 or SATA-IO. It seems to me all the SATA-IO name has done is further obfuscate the confusion that SATA2 and SATA-IO can mean 3Gb/s or they can mean next to nothing. That is the organization's marketing issue - which they have NOT resolved. Reply
  • fitten - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    I'm not arguing either way other than to clarify the other poster's post. You can use whatever term you want for it but be aware that the terms "SATA2" and "SATAII" and variations aren't used by the SATA standardization body, regardless of how obfuscated things are. Reply
  • Donegrim - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    nForce4 SLI x16 nad nForce4 SLI
    Is this a typo? just thouhgt id point it out.
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    Typo corrected. We were adding info to the front page when you spotted the error. Reply
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - link

    there seem to be some nad's in the article on the first page in bold here:
    nForce4 SLI x16 nad nForce4 SLI

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