Basic Features: DFI nForce4

DFI uses the same PCB for all nForce4 models. This assures that the overclocking capabilities of all the nForce4 boards are the same. In fact, all boards use the same BIOS. The 3 DFI nForce4 models are:
  • LANParty nF4 SLI-DR
  • LANParty UT nF4 SLI-D
  • LANParty UT nF4 Ultra-D

Models with the SLI name feature the nVidia nForce4 SLI chipset, while those with Ultra use the nF4 Ultra chipset. All boards feature dual PCIe slots, and the "R" in the SLI-DR adds Silicon Image 3114 4-drive SATA RAID. The two LANParty UT models are identical except one uses the SLI Chipset and the other uses nF4 Ultra.

We tested production models of the top and bottom of the DFI nForce4 lineup, and we can report that performance of these two models was exactly the same in all our benchmarks. Your choice, therefore, should be based on the SLI/Ultra choice and other features. In addition, those who are willing to mod a chip can make a minor change to the $140 Ultra-D board and convert it into an SLI chipset with SLI performance identical to the top line SLI boards. Details on this mod are available at Morphing nForce4 Ultra into nForce4 SLI.


 Specification  DFI LANParty nF4 SLI-DR  DFI LANParty UT nF4 Ultra-D
CPU Interface Socket 939 Athlon 64
Chipset nForce4 SLI (single chip) nForce4 Ultra (single chip)
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 456MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds Asynchronous (Fixed)
PCI Express 100MHz to 145MHz in 1MHz increments
Core Voltage Auto, 0.8V to 1.55V in 0.025V increments (Normal) PLUS
*104%, 110%, 113%, 123%, 126%, 133%, 136% (Special - to 2.1V)
CPU Startup Voltage Startup, 0.825V to 1.550V in 0.025V increments
DRAM Voltage 2.5V to 3.2V in 0.1V increments (3V jumper)
2.5V to 4.0V in 0.1V increments (5V jumper)
Chipset Voltage 1.5V, 1.6V, 1.7V, 1.8V
Hyper Transport Ratios Auto, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0
LDT Bus Transter 16/16, 16/8, 8/16, 8/8
LDT Voltage 1.2V, 1.3V, 1.4V, 1.5V
CPU Ratios Auto, 4x to 25x in 0.5x increments
Cool'n'Quiet MAX FID Auto, 8.0 to 13.0 in 0.5x increments
DRAM Speeds Auto, 100, 120, 133, 140, 150, 166, 180, 200
Memory Command Rate Auto, 1T, 2T
Memory Slots Four 184-pin DDR Dual-Channel Slots
Unbuffered ECC or non-ECC Memory to 4GB Total
Expansion Slots 2 x16 PCIe Slots
1 x4 PCIe
1 x1 PCIe
2 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA 4-Drive SATA by nF4 PLUS
4-Drive SATA by Sil31144-Drive SATA by nF4
Onboard IDE Two Standard nVidia ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)
SATA/IDE RAID 4-Drive SATA PLUS
4-Drive IDE (8 total)
Can be combined in RAID 0, 1
PLUS 4-Drive SATA by Sil3114
Sil3114 Raid 0, 1, 5
4-Drive SATA PLUS
4-Drive IDE (8 total)
Can be combined in RAID 0, 1
Onboard USB 2.0 IEEE-1394 10 USB 2.0 ports supported nF4
2 1394A FireWire ports by VIA VT6307
Onboard LAN Dual Gigabit Ethernet
PCIe by Vitesse VSC8201 PHY
PCI by Marvel 88E8001
Onboard Audio Karajan Audio Module
based on Realtek ALC850 8-Channel codec with 6 UAJ audio jacks, CD-in, front audio, and coaxial SPDIF In and Out
Other Features Power and Reset momentary switches
BIOS Award 2/01/2005

All of the new DFI boards are based on either the nForce4 SLI or the nForce4 Ultra. More information on nForce4 is available at:

Morphing nForce4 Ultra into nForce4 SLI
NVIDIA's GeForce 6 SLI: Demolishing Performance Barriers
FIRST LOOK: Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
FIRST LOOK - nForce4: Gigabyte K8NXP-9
nForce4: PCI Express and SLI for Athlon 64
NVIDIA SLI Performance Preview with MSI's nForce4 SLI Motherboard

The DFI boards all support the full range of nVidia nForce4 features including nVRAID, Active Armor, SATAII 3Gb/s drives, NCQ, any-drive IDE/SATA Raid, PCIe Gigabit LAN by a PHY Ethernet chip (plus an additional PCI Gigabit LAN), and the nTune utility.

Packaging for the full LANParty nF4 SLI-DR is typical LANParty.

It is a huge package with a motherboard, UV cables, a system carrier, a Front-X box, and even UV sheathing for your system cables.

The UT provides a more modest package.

The UT does include most of the same features and accessories found in the LANParty SLI-DR, however. The board is the same except it is based on the Ultra chipset instead of SLI and the Ultra-D does not have the additional 4 SATA ports provided by the Silicon Image 3114. You still get the UV cables, and even the same Karajan Audio Module. The missing accessories are the system carrier, Front-X (which will be very important to some) and cable sheathing. If performance is what matters to you, then you can choose any of the new DFI nForce4 boards and then decide what additional features and accessories matter to you.

DFI has continued with the Karajan Audio Module first introduced on their LANP arty 925x. However, we wish that DFI had been able to use the High Definition ALC880 or a similar chip instead of the more common ALC850. The Karajan Module isolates audio for best signal-to-noise ratio and high definition chip benefits most from this isolation.

The Realtek ALC850 7.1 audio chip has appeared on many recent motherboards. This 8-channel audio codec is fully AC '97 2.3 compliant and features 16-bit 8-channel audio and auto-jack sensing with support for a full range of analog and digital IO. The Karajan Module includes both SPDIF in and out coaxial connectors on the rear IO panel. There is also an on-board SPDIF connector for an optical cable.

The ALC850 Codec provides four pairs of stereo outputs, with 5-Bit volume controls and multiple stereo and mono inputs, along with flexible mixing, and gain and mute functions. Two 50mW/20ohm headset audio amplifiers are integrated at Front-Out and Surround-Out, and both amplifiers are selectable for Front-Out, Line-In and Mic-In as a Universal Audio Jack.

You can find more information on the recently released ALC850 atRealtek.

DFI provides a full selection of rear I/O ports. These include 6 programmable audio mini jacks plus coaxial SPDIF in and out connectors to support the Realtek ALC850. The back panel also includes PS2 mouse and keyboard, 1 standard Firewire (IEEE1394a), 6 USB, and two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet. There are no rear ports for a Parallel Printer or serial devices, but there is an onboard header for an external serial device - an IR header.

On "R" models, like the DFI LANParty nF4 SLI-DR, DFI uses the Silicon Image 3114 SATA controller to add 4 more SATA ports to the 4 already provided by the nVidia nForce4 chipset. The Sil3114 ports can be combined in RAID 0, 1, or 5. RAID 5 can be implemented on this controller with 3 hard drives.

The four DIMM slots support up to 4GB of up to DDR400 memory in a Dual-Channel memory configuration. Dual-Channel 1 is DIMMs 1 and 3, and Dual-Channel 2 is DIMMs 2 and 4. DFI specifies support for both ECC and non-ECC unbuffered memory. Contacts at DFI advise that best overclocking is achieved with the dual-channel DIMMs in Sockets 2 and 4.


Index Board Layout: DFI nForce4
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  • chevas - Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - link

    Did I miss something? Why do I not see the A8N-SLI deluxe included in these tests?!? Reply
  • Penth - Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - link

    NO SLI Bridge? What am I to do with my Ultra-D now? Reply
  • beany323 - Monday, February 7, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • bigtoe36 - Monday, February 7, 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 6, 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 6, 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.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, February 6, 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.
    Reply
  • bigtoe36 - Sunday, February 6, 2005 - link

    #93

    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 board...so 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.
    Reply
  • arfan - Sunday, February 6, 2005 - link

    likes what i say, nvida is not stupid, i hope via can make sli mobo with cheap price Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Sunday, February 6, 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... :)
    Reply

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