Basic Features: nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400Gb Reference Board


 Reference Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket A (462) Athlon XP
Chipset nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400/nForce2 MCP-Gb
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 465MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds Auto
Core Voltage 1.60V - 1.75V
DRAM Voltage 2.6V - 2.8V
AGP Voltage 1.5V - 1.7V
VAUX Overvoltage 1.675V - 1.75V
VID Override 1.1V - 1.85V
Memory Slots Three 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Unbuffered DDR Memory
Memory Speeds Auto, 50%-200%
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard Serial ATA 2 drives by MCP-Gb
Onboard IDE Two Standard MCP ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)
Onboard RAID Up to 6 drives - combined SATA and IDE
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by 8237
No Firewire
Onboard LAN MCP-Gb on-chip Gigabit LAN
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC655 codec AC '97 2.3
6-Channel with NVSwap


Reference Boards are designed for testing and qualification and will not likely see production as a retail product. However, the nForce2 is a mature product and that shows in a very full-featured Reference board with a wealth of fine-tuning controls for voltage and memory. The only things missing are ratio or multiplier controls and a wide FSB range above 400, which would be useful for testing overclocking. However, you will likely see these options on production boards.

Gb stands for the on-chip Gigabit LAN that is provided by the MCP-Gb chip. Functions are the same as the nVidia Gigabit LAN introduced on the nF3-250Gb chipset. That is, LAN is off the PCI bus, which removes a potential bottleneck to LAN performance. Details of the nVidia Gigabit LAN can be found in our nForce3-250Gb review.




Click to enlarge.


The on-chip Firewall is another feature that has migrated from the nF3-250 to the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb. nVidia Firewall is a driver-based, hardware-optimized personal Firewall that is integrated directly into motherboard silicon. The Firewall is controlled by an Internet Explorer based Utility that allows complete adjustments and customization of the Firewall. The "Firewall Wizards" capture should give you a better idea of the capabilities of the on-chip Firewall. More information on the firewall can be found here in our nF3-250Gb review.



nVidia's RAID was introduced on nF3-250 and is now implemented in both the Gb and R versions of Ultra 400. The RAID is unique in that IDE and SATA drives can be combined in RAID configurations. Where the nForce3-250GB provided up to 4 SATA drives, nF2 Ultra 400Gb/R provides support for just 2 SATA drives.



nVidia does not have built-in provisions for Firewire in the nForce2 Ultra400Gb, but this can be added by board makers with additional chips. 8 USB ports are available, with 4 rear connectors on the Reference Board.

A Closer Look at nForce2 Ultra 400Gb System Utility
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  • Myrandex - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    It woudl still be kinda disappointing to go out and purchase a brand new AthlonXP 3200+ system with this nvidia motherboard and later realize that there will be no further upgrades CPU wise. I have been pushing peopel to go to Athlon64 CPUs for that reason really, unless its an extreme budget situation. Reply
  • segagenesis - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Extra features like SATA + Raid + Gigabit LAN on the chipset are a nice bonus. Kudos to nVidia for continuing to improve on features. Reply
  • psiu - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Under final words it begins, "The Socket A Athlon 64 has not received the attention that the newer Athlon 64 chips have gotten in recent months, but the motherboards still sell in very large numbers for nVidia."

    That's supposed to be Socket A Athlon * XP *, right?

    Anyway, neato! Happy to see that socket-A won't just up and disappear overnight, and features and performance are still being worked on for it.
    Reply

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