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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  • Gerbil333 - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    justinmann, why are you wasting your time at this site? There's nothing wrong with the review, so if you don't like it, then don't come here. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    #71 - We also did exclusive reviews of the MSI SLI at http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2258... the Gigabyte Ultra at http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2273, the Gigabyte SLI at http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2285, and the Asus SLI at http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2284...

    However, the focus in those reviews varied from video to chipset to motherboard, and the previous testing was therefore not conducive to comparison in this review. That is why we are doing an SLI roundup to bring all these boards and information together in a consistent head-to-head roundup.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    #71 - We are always "boning for" exclusive coverage of new items. It is one advantage a major site like AT has over smaller sites. An exclusive also does not make any of us one dime at AT, but it can increase readership if it is a much anticipated item, like this DFI board. It is a matter of honor and respect, and we are flattered so many manufacturers have enough respect for our Editorial integrity and readership that we are often offered exclusive reviews.

    I stated my opinion in the article, which I stand by. I did not award an Editor's Choice since those should be reserved IMO for roundups or onging review series where there is much more comparative data. I will likely award an Editors Choice for best SLI board when that roundup appears.
    Reply
  • justinmann - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    Of course, that was not the bulk of my complaint Wesley. If you had read my post, which was much more concise than your article, you would have seen that I was asking why no other retail NF4 boards', which have been available for quite some time, benchmarks were included. Your response to my question points even more strongly to an apparent lack of journalistic integrity on your part. Are you boning for more exclusive coverage deals Wes?
    If you imply that this is the best nf4 board, which is what you did, you should provide ammunition to back it up. You failed to do that, and now have failed to justify why you failed to do that.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    #68 - Retailers can charge whatever they wish for the DFI boards or anything else. The $140 and $200 are expected street prices once the pricing settles down. It took quite a while for the new video cards to reach "street-price" levels and the same may be true of the DFI nF4 boards.

    We are told prices in Europe are higher.
    Reply
  • Rapsven - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    It's because their motherboard is so ungodly. Reply
  • ChineseDemocracyGNR - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    According to the Inq the prices are:
    "DFI is shipping three models: LANParty NF4 SLI-DR, LANPartyUT NF4 SLI-R and LANPartyUT NF4 Ultra-D. The first two boards are based on SLI and the last one is based on Nforce 4 Ultra chipset. Suggested retail prices for these boards are $229 and $189 for the two SLI boards, and $159 for Ultra board."]

    Wesley, could you please check with DFI what the final suggested prices for these 3 boards are? The review mentions $140 but I believe they changed their minds after all the feedback.

    Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    Owned... now Justin, go get yourself one of these bad mobos. OC or not I'd like to see you satisfed..she'll do it in spades.

    http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?desc...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    #65 - The DFI is available for sale NOW, which you would know if you had actually read the review. AnandTech had an exclusive on this board which is why this is the first review posted of the DFI. I waited to post the review until the same day zipzoomfly and others would likely have the boards for sale - most are now sold out I am told by readers.

    You would also know if you had read the review that we will be posting an SLI roundup next week comparing all SLI capable boards in single and SLI mode. We have been waiting for the Epox, but it will not likely be available in time for the roundup - which now includes Gigabyte (already tested here), DFI, Asus, and MSI.

    Criticism is welcomed and helps us, but it would be appreciated if you actually read the review before you make comments like this.
    Reply
  • justinmann - Thursday, February 3, 2005 - link

    It seems a bit premature to call this "the best nf4 board" when it's the only production model nf4 board even in the review. Seems to me that with the arrival of the MSI board last week, and the asus, gigabyte and chaintech boards weeks before, Anandtech could easily include more nf4 competition. Instead they have chosen to put an unavailable board up against outdated competition. It's a strange call in my estimation.

    When can we expect to see it compared to other boards with the same chipset?

    Justin
    Reply

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