NVIDIA has certainly had its share of success in the AMD world and started making inroads in the Intel market space late last year with their first nForce4 for Intel chipsets. A few months ago NVIDIA updated their Intel platform with a revised stepping of their nForce4 Intel chipset along with a slightly different marketing strategy by going after the hearts and wallets of potential Intel customers with mainstream products. The nForce4 Intel SLI XE and Ultra chipsets were very good performers at excellent prices and found their way into several manufacturers' boards this last quarter. However, the continued reliance upon the NetBurst architecture and Intel's entrenchment in the corporate market has resulted in a situation where the nForce4 Intel product is constantly on the outside looking in for market acceptance in both the performance and business sectors.

We believe this situation will change shortly as NVIDIA and its partners are in the process of readying nForce 590 SLI and nForce 570 SLI Intel based motherboards for the upcoming Core 2 Duo product launch. Several of the existing nForce4 Intel SLI XE and Ultra motherboards will also be upgraded for Core 2 Duo compatibility resulting in a product lineup that will stretch from the mainstream market where the Intel 945/965 chipsets compete to the very upper end market where Intel positions the 975X product. Based upon our very preliminary testing, it appears that NVIDIA is positioning itself well for both the enthusiast and general user markets once Intel releases the Core 2 Duo CPUs along with substantial price reductions on the current NetBurst processors.



We spent an enormous amount of time at Computex looking for NVIDIA based motherboards that fully supported the Intel Core 2 Duo products. While the manufacturers discussed their plans openly about NVIDIA based products in their Intel lineups, we did not see any nForce 500 based products other than reference boards supplied by NVIDIA. This was in stark contrast to the multitude of Intel/VIA/SIS production ready boards with full Core 2 Duo compatibility that every manufacturer was showing. This situation intrigued us and upon contacting NVIDIA we discovered they were getting ready to ship out nForce 590 SLI reference boards for preliminary testing. Obviously we jumped at the chance to have a board delivered to us as the thought of running SLI with our Core 2 Duo processors was too good to pass up, not too mention we wanted to see how well a non-Intel chipset could perform with these CPUs.

In a matter of hours after our return from Computex we received our reference NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition board. We quickly started our benchmark test routine with our Smithfield and Pressler CPUs. We were excited to find that the performance of the board was already up to par with several of the mature Intel chipset boards. While our board is a very early sample and we have already received three different BIOS releases in the last ten days, we can honestly say that so far we are impressed with this chipset and its performance at such an early stage in development. In fact, we will be receiving a revised board shortly that fully supports all current socket 775 processors along with being overclocking friendly. Not that this board did not overclock well; it is just that NVIDIA is still performance fine tuning the BIOS for overclocking along with creating a suggested hardware component list for the board manufacturers. As with the nForce 500 AM2 rollout, we are sure to see a vast majority of motherboard suppliers following the reference board and BIOS design.

After our Core 2 Duo processors arrived we immediately stopped all activities in the lab, grabbed a night's worth of food, locked the doors, fired up the system, and were treated to some truly excellent results. However, we are under NDA restrictions until the official Intel launch so our only comments will be that the nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition chipset fully supports the entire Core 2 Duo processor lineup at this time. Our testing today begins with our little retail chip that could, the Pentium D 805. This will soon become a $93 or less wonder CPU in July. We will follow up today's test results by providing additional benchmark scores with the Pentium D 950 and 955XE processors in the very near future. This leads us to the focal point of today's discussion, the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI for Intel chipset, so let's take a closer look at its features and a brief performance overview.

Basic Features: NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI
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  • rallyhard - Friday, June 30, 2006 - link

    I, too, would like to see some RAID benchmarks for the motherboards when they're reviewed. Maybe even just reviewing the performance of a particular HD/RAID controller once, when it is tested on the first motherboard that you come across with that controller, would suffice.
    (I don't know how much HD/RAID performance varies from mobo to mobo with the same controller)
    I certainly wouldn't have bought my Gigabyte 7n400 Pro2 socket A board if I had known the performance penalty of running RAID on the ITE 8212 chip as opposed to running a single drive on the nForce2 controller. The IDE raid functionality was the only reason I chose that board over the Abit NF7. The only way I found out that my horrible performance was truly and solely due to that 8212 chip is by doing a search on that chip and reading forums.
    Incredibly, some manufacturers are still using that same chip for their IDE.
    Anyway, I'm sure IDE performace is now a moot point for most, but yeah, RAID performance testing on future mobo (or controller) testing would, to me, be a useful addition to your excellent reviews.

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • Crassus - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this: How much of an real-world impact in contemporary games does SLI 8/8 lanes compared to 16/16 lanes have? I remember reading an article about this issue back in the days when PCI-E was introduced, but I haven't really heared anything about it since. So, did anyone do a test on this? Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I think X-Bit did a test not so long ago, and concluded there is still no advantage of 16x16 over 8x8. Reply
  • Avalon - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Sheesh, this is a pre-production board. Reply
  • CrystalBay - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Sheesh, look at the size NB fan. Reply
  • nullpointerus - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Just below the big features table on the basic features page, there's a sentence which should read:

    "Intel didn't officially want their 975X chipset to support 533FSB processors, but [a few] motherboard manufacturers disagreed on this point[, and] the end result is that 975X motherboards are able to run Celeron D chips."

    At least I think that's how it's supposed to read.
    Reply
  • nullpointerus - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Further down:

    "Considering the layout of expansion slots on ATX/BTX motherboards, [this] would be our ideal configuration, and the remaining expansion slots can be filled out with either X1/X2 PCI-E or regular PCI connectors."

    ...and also:

    "There really doesn't see[m to be] much point in including X1 physical slots, particularly on enthusiast level hardware, and ATI at least has already recommended that motherboard manufacturers begin including more X16 physical connectors."
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Jarred and I got our wires crossed during the edit process this morning, it was easy to do at 5:30am after being up for about 26 hours with this board and another "new" chipset preview that should be finished shortly. ;-> However, no excuse on my part for not noticing the missing/incorrect text. I have corrected our mistakes and sincerely hope the changes are acceptable. Thank you for the comments and taking time to write. :) Reply
  • PedroDaGr8 - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I noticed on the compression/decompression page, page 7 I think. Both of the graphs are labeled File compresision - WinRAR 3.60b5 602MB Test Folder - Time In Minutes - Lower Is Better. Shouldn't one of them (the bottom one I guess) be labeled File Decompression, or atleast since you mention it first in the article shouldn't it be on top. That led to a quick bout of confusion for me, hey maybe it is just the painpills (I blew out my knee last week, tore my ACL and LCL (Lateral Colateral Ligament) with possible damage to my PCL and MCL as well. Nothing like playing cricket for the first time and injuring yourself. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I added a word to the subtitle now. Basically, File Compression is the benchmark category, followed by the benchmark application. The subtitle is for extra information about the particular test. Hopefully that makes sense - I can't say my brain is entirely functional at this hour of the morning. :) Reply

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