Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1420

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

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

What is nVidia On-Chip LAN?

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

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

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

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

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

How Can You Tell if a Board Has On-Chip Gigabit LAN?

According to nVidia, the easiest way to determine if a motherboard has on-chip Gigabit LAN is to "look for nForce3 250Gb/Ultra badges or the NVIDIA Firewall as a feature, since they have to use nForce's GigE controller. Some boards brand NVIDIA GigE separately; others do not...those boards with a regular nForce3 250 badge do not have the GigE controller."

To give you a clear idea of what nVidia is talking about - if the board has any one of the 3 logos above, then you can assume that the board has on-chip LAN.

To provide a better idea of how manufacturers are using the logos, take a look at the Gigabyte 939 board above.

The Asus K8N-E shows the 250Gb label that you will see on some Socket 754 boards.

Socket 754/939 Boards That Have On-Chip LAN

As of August 2, 2004, nVidia provided the list of boards below that definitely have nVidia on-chip Gigabit LAN.

 Motherboards with nVidia On-Chip Gigabit LAN
 Manufacturer  Model
Biostar K8NHA Grand
DFI LANParty UT NF3-250Gb
DFI LANParty NF3 Ultra
Gigabyte K8NSNXP-939
10/100 on-chip ONLY
Iwill DK8N
Iwill ZMAXdp
Leadtek K8N250A
Leadtek K8N250M
MSI MSI7025(939)
MSI MSI7030 (754)
Soltek SL-B9A-FGR
Soltek SL-K8AN2E-GR

Other boards based on the nVidia chipset family will likely appear in both Socket 754 and Socket 939 in the future. For a board that is not listed, look for the nVidia nForce3-250Gb logo, the nForce3-250 Ultra logo, or the nVidia Firewall label. Any of these three logos identify the board as having nVidia on-chip LAN that communicates directly with the chipset.

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