Our Take

There are several questions that really need answering in our first look at the new ULi M1695/M1567 chipset. First and foremost, how does it compare to the excellent performance of the NVIDIA nForce4 chipset? Our brief testing here confirms that the ULi competes very well against NVIDIA, and is a performance drop-in to the NVIDIA performance levels. This is very good news for those shopping for Athlon 64 Socket 939 boards. ULi is a solid choice and competition means better buys for you. It will likely still be a month to 6 weeks before you will see retail M1695/M1567 boards for sale, but make no mistake that the ULi is a very good choice, featuring excellent performance.

Second, there is the unique question of ULi AGP on this PCIe board. How does it perform? We are glad to say that ULi AGP is the first AGP on any PCIe board that doesn't require compromises. Those of you who want to take your high-end AGP card to a new PCIe board will be ecstatic over the performance of your AGP video card on the ULi board. It will work extremely well, as will a future PCIe card or a PCI card or any other combination of these three. This is absolutely unique, and it makes the compromise solutions, which derive AGP from PCI with degraded performance, totally obsolete. You do not need to compromise AGP performance just to get a PCIe board with this ULi M1695/M1567 chipset.

Next, there is the question of where ULi may be positioned in the marketplace. This is a tough call because we have seen excellent chipsets, like those from SiS, that have been relegated to the bargain bin because no manufacturer will support them. ULi has a bit more promise that we might otherwise see with their new chipsets. First, there is the fact that ATI selected ULi as a development partner for their South Bridge chips on the new Crossfire platform. That alone carries tremendous weight in getting manufacturers to take the new ULi chipsets seriously.

There is also the fact that ULi has some very unique and flexible solutions among their new offerings. The ability to do x16 or 2 x8 with a BIOS switch and riser card will appeal to many. In fact, x16/2 x8, AGP and PCI could all be theoretically combined on the same board. With a soon-to-be-available South Bridge, ULi is also saying that they will support Dual x16 lanes for a Workstation/Server type solution at a mainstream price. That will certainly appeal to many looking at the video high end. There is also the ability to interface with AMD's PCI-X workstation chips in an even more amazing array of options. This flexibility should make ULi attractive to many manufacturers and to a wide range of buyers.

The new ULi M1695/M1567 chipset is both unique in its full-blown AGP support on a PCIe board and fully competitive in performance with the best Athlon 64 solutions currently available. PCIe performance could use a bit more tuning, but it is already competitive. If ULi can bring PCIe performance to the levels that they currently enjoy with AGP on this same board, this could well be the fastest Athlon 64 chipset that you can buy. We could wish for SATA 2 support and integrated Gigabit LAN, but even those are coming with the M1575 South Bridge slated for September/October production.

ULi did a great job with their new PCIe/AGP chipset. If you are in the market for a new Socket 939 board, then boards based on the ULi M1695/M1567 should definitely be on your shopping list. If you by chance plan to use AGP on your new PCIe board, then ULi M1695/M1567 is the only board that you should have on your shopping list. This AGP on PCIe really works, there are no compromises, and you will not be disappointed.

Gaming Performance
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  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    #12 - This is a First Look with 2 days testing time for the review. There is a followup Reference Board with better options and we will be analyzing disk and I/O on that board. Testing 10/100 Ethernet tells us little about the board. Abit and Gigabyte both have full-blown boards in the works.

    #15 - The drivers were trouble-free in our testing. Reference Boards are famous for quirky drivers but these worked as they should.

    #20 - 400 IS the speed when I set 200 Clock Speed in BIOS, so I am talking about 400 Clock Speed (800). It isn't truly FSB on an HT machine, so I've changed the wording and the DDR reference error to make it better understood. We are expecting the second Reference Board with improved overclocking shortly and will do more testing for a Part 2 with that board.
    Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Wesley Fink i noted that the speed of the AGP is very good, but vs the older 1689 is it equal, higher or is the 1689 even higher. Can you do some 939A8X-M test just to check.

    #20 He mean 400Mhz. Thats a typo.
    Uli say their chipset would do 400Mhz bus speed i just dont know it it's 400x5 or 2000 HT.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Page 4 Overclocking - "Since there were no voltages for memory, we had to toss our normal overclock procedures out the window" and "Without memory voltage, the only way that this can be tested is by lowering memory ratios to those that can run at default voltage"

    Since you like promoting OCZ products and they seem more than happy to send you them (you used OCZ memory and PSU for this test), why not ask OCZ to send you a pair of their DDR Booster things?

    From the same paragraph- "We have seen reports that this new ULi Reference Board, or more specifically the sister Reference Board with the dual 8X riser slot, can reach a FSB setting of DDR400"

    Reach an FSB setting of DDR400? Isn't that the default memory speed anyway? I certainly hope it can reach DDR400! :) Did you mean that it can reach 400MHz FSB?
    Reply
  • probedb - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    This is fantastic. I was wanting a skt939 mobo in a server but all the PCIe RAID boards I've seen need an 8x socket which currently nothing except servers support in tandem with a gfx card. The fact that you could get more than 20 lanes is brilliant news for me :) Reply
  • SynthDude2001 - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    #17 - OMG. I want one now!

    Any ideas if this will be able in the near future too? (Say, within a month or maybe two)
    Reply
  • stmok - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    If you need Linux driver support for ULi chipsets, head to ocworkbench.com forums OR search/contact ULi about it.

    I know the previous generation, M1689 chipset did work without a problem in Linux. (I used Fedora Core 4, Gentoo and Slackware).

    I was already excited about this chipset (M1695) MONTHS ago...It must take quite a bit of time to get the word out from Taiwan to USA.

    If you thought the chipset was interesting.
    Check out what ASRock is gonna do with it!

    They have a mobo under development that uses this chipset and have an upgrade option to support future Socket M2 CPUs.

    Don't believe me?

    ASRock 939Dual-SATA (formerly ASRock 939Dual-M2)
    http://forums.techwatch.com.au/viewtopic.php?t=448...

    SO what do we have here?
    (1) PCI-Express and AGP support (no performance loss)

    (2) SLI capable. Over at ocworkbench, they have an article which demonstrates that the M1695 DOES support SLI. The special dual PCI-Express 8x riser card is only a prototype (consider it a concept demonstrator), and NOT a retail product...Either way, SLI on M1695 works...And performance is identical to NF4 SLI.

    (3) Dual-core support. (both the older M1689 and newer M1695 can handle dual-core without issues).

    (4) Overclocking. (ocworkbench.com has shown the newer M1695 has PCI/PCI-Express/AGP locks, and it can handle very high overclock bus speeds)...The current M1689 does NOT have PCI/AGP locks. So ULi did listen to the enthusiast crowd. :)

    (5) Upgradeability (ASROCK only)...Who wouldn't want a mobo that supports Socket M2 as well as Socket 939? :)

    (6) Its marketed to be slightly cheaper than VIA chipsets!

    (7) Abit, ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte are some mobo manufacturers that have released mobos based on ULi chipsets, and they're working on products with the newer M1695.


    Its not surprising that ULi is offering so much. They have been noted for saying they want to be the very best Taiwan based chipset provider. And from the looks of it, they're getting there quite well with the M1695.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Me three :D

    Calin
    Reply
  • Googer - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Quality drivers will make or break the deal on this chipset.

    Quality Hardware counts too, but drivers are a deal maker or breaker.
    Reply
  • SynthDude2001 - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Absolutely amazing. Assuming they allow for a bit more overclocking options (voltages mainly), and that it does appear in August like they say it will - this WILL be my next motherboard.

    My 6800GT still has a lot of life left in it I think, but the Athlon XP finally needs to go. I can pick up an X2 and one of these boards, use my 6800GT for now, throw in an R520 or '7800 Ultra' later, and probably be set for at least a year, maybe two.

    I can't wait to see these appear at retail!
    Reply
  • Cygni - Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - link

    Thats the most important thing for ULI right now. They need somebody, ANYBODY, to make a board with 2 physical PCI-Ex 16x slots AND agp 8x. The riser card is great in that it proves that it works (and that SLI works as fast as a Nforce 4 SLI board as seen on OCWorkbench), but it aint going to fit in any case that ive seen. 2 PCI-Ex 16, an AGP, 2 PCI, and a PCI-Ex 4 slot... and we got one beautiful board.

    Judging by past ULi/ALi pricing, it will be dirt cheap too. Actually, i dont think we need to worry so much about whos gonna make it... a quick search on Newegg shows that ASRock, Gigabyte, Abit, Albatron, and Chaintech are all making boards based on the less exciting 1689 chipset.

    Im excited. Amazing AGP performance, solid PCI-Ex performance WITH full on SLI, and a low price. Perfect for a few upgrades to K8-ville.
    Reply

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