nVidia was roundly criticized for the lack of up-to-date features in their first Athlon 64 chipset. That criticism turned to utter disappointment when enthusiasts discovered the additional overclocking limitations of the 600MHz HyperTransport and the non-working AGP locks on motherboards that appeared in the marketplace. In fairness, performance at stock speeds was just as good with nForce3-150 chipsets with Athlon 64 as it was with competing chipsets, but this was not what we have come to expect from nVidia on their chipsets for AMD. nVidia says that they never expected AMD sales to take off until the introduction of Socket 939. It is very clear that nForce3-250 was designed first for 939, and the fact that we are seeing it now for Socket 754 is only because you can now buy 754 and Socket 939 is still probably a couple of months away.

No one can complain about the feature-set of the single-chip nForce3-250. It competes with any chipset that we have looked at or heard about. We were also excited to test a Socket 754 board with the Ultra chipset providing the option of not just 800 HyperTransport, but the 1000 HyperTransport that we will be seeing when Socket 939 is introduced. We expect that some enterprising companies who cater to the computer enthusiast, will slip in some Socket 754 boards based on the Ultra chipset with a Gigahertz HyperTransport.

The ultra-speedy on-chip Gigabit Ethernet is more than a checklist feature. If you are a LAN gamer or transfer large files on your network, you will find the speed truly impressive. Removing LAN from the confines of PCI is an idea whose time has come, and nVidia's solution is the fastest on the market. The on-chip Firewall is also a great idea that will be appreciated particularly by LAN gamers. nVidia won the hearts of die-hard gamers with nForce2, and they certainly will win them back again with nForce3-250Gb. No matter how you look at nF3-250 features, there is a gamer in the background who nVidia is trying to satisfy.

The Raid controller capabilities of nForce3-250 are a quantum leap over the integrated home storage solutions that we have seen thus far. Intel will also introduce much-enhanced storage capabilities with their upcoming Alderwood and Grantsdale chipsets, but nVidia certainly impressed us with their hot-spare and on-the-fly rebuild demonstrations. However, we think most users will find the controller that treats IDE and SATA drives the same - allowing them to be combined in any way - to be the most useful feature that they have seen in a long time.

If you haven't figured it out, we are impressed with the features of nForce3-250Gb. They are much more than fluff and check-list items; users will find many features truly unique and truly useful. In Part 2, we will take a closer look at the performance of nForce3-250GB. We will compare performance to other Athlon 64 chipsets and take a closer look at how ATI and nVidia graphics compare in performance on nForce3-250.

nForce3-250Gb: 4-Drive SATA RAID and IDE RAID


View All Comments

  • Curt Oien - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    PCI EXPRESS ? Reply
  • prisoner881 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    There's a huge gaffe on the On-Chip Gigabit page. It states that Fast Ethernet runs at "100MB/sec" and Gigabit runs at "1000MB/sec." "MB" is shorthand for mega<i>bytes</i>, not mega<i>bits</i>. Megabits should be abbreviated "Mb."

    Normally I wouldn't be this anally-retentive, but the poor usage leads to another problem later on down the page. The article states that Gigabit Ethernet running at "1000MB/sec" is faster than the PCI bus which runs at "133MB/sec." The PCI rate figure is correct, but the Gigabit figure makes it look like Gigabit is about 8 times faster than the PCI bus itself. <i>It's not!</i> The PCI bus runs at (133Mbytes/sec X 8 bits/byte = ) 1064Mbit/sec, which faster than Gigabit. The article is very misleading in this respect.

    In truth, the PCI bus can almost never reach its peak 133MB/sec rate (usually it's around 100MB/sec) but then again Gigabit can't reach it's peak either.

    Regardless, the article is completely incorrect when it indicates a Gigabit card would overwhelm a PCI bus. This is not true.
  • BikeDude - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Argh... I keep forgetting that it's 1000Mbps _full duplex_... nVidia are indeed correct, the PCI bus is only half that speed. :-/

  • BikeDude - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    First off: GB is GigaByte. Wesley wrote "GB" more than once while actually referring to Gigabit (bit has lowercase b).

    Next, 1000Mbps is roughly 125MB/s (theoretical peak I expect). 33MHz 32-bit PCI is roughly 133MB/s. I dislike PCI Gb implementations as the next guy, but I'd still like to know how nVidia managed to come up with the half speed figure? Perhaps nVidia's PCI-bus implementation is sub-par? (which is a real issue! Via has struggled with really bad PCI performance for years :-( )

    Finally there's 6-channel audio; What happened with Soundstorm and Dolby encoding implemented in hardware? (I currently use only the SPDIF connectors on my nForce2 and get surround sound both in games and while playing DVDs -- is there no way to get this functionality with Athlon64?)

    Hopefully the next article will shed some light on some of these issues. Cheers! :)

  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    gigE is awesome and worth it. i dunno about the firewall but eh. 45MB/s network transfers are fun.

  • Verdant - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    schweet... when is my 16x nforce 250 mobo comming the the mail? Reply
  • klah - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    hmmm.. seems that last page was slipped in from the November SiS article. weird.

  • Phiro - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    yeah, the SiS 755FX plug at the end was sort of a red-herring - didn't fit at all with the article, which was soley about Nvidia, it didn't need SiS's recent efforts tacked on the end at the last second.

    A couple things:

    1) to all you nay-sayers about the worth of gigabit ethernet - I thumb my nose at you! Let's not play chicken or the egg games here, let's just usher in new *desired* technology as smoothly as possible - having gigabit ethernet will push me to replace my netgear 10/100 switched hub, not the other way around.

    2) Anandtech, what's with the nvidia ass kissing? When you say things like 'Nvidia assured us.." and "We did test Nvidia's claim... [and we believe it]" - come on, a little healthy doubt is a good thing. Just because they supplied you with a reference nforce3 250 mobo doesn't mean you have to see how far you can stick your tongue up their butt. Honestly, the article felt like it leaned toward Nvidia abit. Believe it or not, you can report on a product without it sounding like some money changes hands or something.
  • mechBgon - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    *drool* Reply
  • bldkc - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    What's with the SiS 755 crap at the end of the article? Someone didn't proof read, huh? That is also obvious in the spelling errors. Excellent article. Better than recent ones. I do wish that you had been able to include the performance portion, cuz now I'm itching to see them.
    One thing tho, how many people have several gigabit systems at home? I know I will not upgrade any of mine until they are replaced, so it will be awhile. Therefore I am not too excited at this point, especially if the high speed wireless standards work out to high enough throughput to allow real time multi-media transfers. Love the on chip firewall, but Zonealarm is still the only useful application specific solution I know of. Not that I'm an expert, I am far from it, but the Blackice debacle was seen coming long ago.

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