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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  • PedroDaGr8 - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Looks good to me now. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Came across this article on The Inquirer - http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=32592">link, that states that the 590 SLI Intel chipset is still using the old C19 northbridge from the NF4 Intel boards, and not the C51XE. Unless I'm missing something, the CPU-Z mainboard shot on page 4 confirms this (C19MCP55). Reply
  • eastvillager - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I'm not buying another motherboard with active cooling on the chipset, much less TWO active cooling systems(MCP and SPP). I'm sick of fans that die within a year, sound like banshees, and are a pain in the ass to replace. Reply
  • Frumious1 - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    NVIDIA's nf% NB runs pretty hot, and I'd rather have a small fan making sure it doesn't overheat. It's amazing what a moderate fan can do for temperatures. Passive cooling sounds great until you live in a house without AC that hits over 100 F in the summer. I've got a passively cooled mobo that I had to juryrig a fan only in order to keep it running in the summer. As for the SB, you can't have just a tiny heatsink ehen you're likely to have two big 7900 cards sitting above it.

    Now, give us the ASUS version with heatpipes and a nice fan on the final VRM radiator, and we'll be fine. This is a reference board, you know? As in, you can't even buy it and few manufacturers will use the exact cooling setup that NVIDIA chose here. My question is: if this is a reference board 1 month before Conroe, when will retail boards show up? Probably still before ATI AM2 boards, but hopefully before Conroe even ships.
    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    The nForce chipsets for the K8 use a lot more power than ATI's chipsets.

    How do they compare on the Intel platform, vs. ATI and Intel chipsets?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    quote:

    How do they compare on the Intel platform, vs. ATI and Intel chipsets?


    We will have power consumption numbers in our next article for Intel and NVIDIA. We need to receive the revised board before publishing the numbers. We do not have the ATI RD600 for Intel yet so those numbers will not be available for a few more weeks.
    Reply
  • phusg - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Here here, I'd like to see this looked into too! Cheers, Pete Reply
  • Anemone - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    The Nvidia board does not have better memory performance than the 975x. All of the tests where the Nvidia board lost were memory related. And moreover, it is already known that the same memory controller from the NF4 is being used on the NF5. Run a couple of memory bandwidth tests and you'll see that the NF5 only has about 2/3-3/4 of the memory bandwidth of the 975x. What the NF5 does have is SLI and a very good disk subsystem. But the disk subsystem has its ups and downs as you started to see. Give that a more thorough workout and you'll see it's not all roses either.

    There are a handful of tests ongoing on the NF5 boards around the web and they aren't favorable vs the 975x. The overall conclusing about the NF4 was that you buy an Intel chipset for an Intel chip if you wanted the most stable environment. Maybe, and only maybe, they manage to dress this horse up to run a bit, but after the disk corruption issues of the NF4, the memory stability issues while overclocking on the Intel version, and the heavy possibility that all those things are still around for us in this new version, I'm doubtful a lot of folks are going to spend a few hundred dollars to find out things we already knew about the NF4.

    And if Nvidia wants to continue to fool itself and its shareholders that they "can't run SLI on Intel" and cut off that sales avenue, well that's going to make ATI very well off indeed over the next year. Because the reviews of the 975x are fantastic, and Conroe flies, and sooner or later a lot of folks are going to say what kind of dual DX10 gpu can I put in this board and if it's not possible to be Nvidia, that will leave one answer come Vista time when everyone thinks about graphics horsepower.

    Don't think the NF5 is going to be the runner some hoped it would be. And I don't think after a few more weeks quite a few folks are going to "take a chance" after the fiasco that was the NF4, and try the NF5.
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Tried? What do you mean "nice try"!? Seems to me you're basing all of your criticisms off of past experience on nF4. The AT crew reported that drive corruption issues were never experienced in their nF5 testing. (Personally, I've never seen it anyway, but I guess I just don't do as much weird stuff as some people. I'm quite happy without the NVIDIA firewall and RAID.)

    Anyway, this is a preview of a chipset that supports - actually, truly SUPPORTS! - Core 2 Duo. No guessing this time. Yay! It also supports SLI, and while 975X support CF, don't even get me started about the BS driver wars between ATI and NVIDIA. The reason ATI supports CF on 975X is because they don't have a freaking Intel chipset that works worth shit! Hmm... those ATI AM2 chipsets sound nice in theory, but they're still not on the market. If ATI were smart, they's support the superior NVIDIA chipsets with CrossFire - not superior in temperatures, perhaps, but at least the damn things are available!

    Anyway, I don't know what "fiasco" you're talking about with nF4. If by "fiasco" you mean "clearly the best AMD 939 chipset on the market, with stellar sales, great performance, and nice features - with a few odd exceptions experienced by people that probably wanted to use extreme overclocks, run RAID 0, run the Firewall, and do all this with a questionable power supply" then I suppose it was a fiasco. For 99.9% of the market, nF4 worked and continues to work great. Nforce3 was perhaps a "fiasco", as was GeForce 5xxx; nForce4 has a few minor flaws that fucking nitpicks can't get over.

    Meanwhile, let's not even talk about the bullshit 915/925 to 945/955 to 975 upgrade path that Intel chipsets have taken. You want a real fiasco? Let's talk about the fact that some 975X motherboards won't support Conroe. Let's talk about the lack of shipping 965 motherboards. Let's talk about the forced upgrades to "dual core capable" chipsets that appear to be as marketing driven as NetBurst. Or let's talk about ATI's complete lack of compelling Intel chipsets, their frequently delayed AMD chipsets, and their lame-duck DVI dongle cable for CrossFire.

    Personally, I found this to be a nice article looking at an interesting CPU. How AnandTech managed to get a 3940 MHz overclock out of the 305, I'd like to know. Mine craps out at about 3.6 GHz. Still damn nice for a CPU that can be purchased with a motherboard for about $125 (Frye's sale). I just wish there were some OC performance results posted, and perhaps COD2 numbers. (COD2 with the "SLI Optimization" enabled, as that's really what enables SMP support. Stupid Activision/Grey Matter - and the damn setting isn't even saved between game runs. You have to manually reenable every time!)

    Anyway, pay no heed to this whiner, AnadnTech - I thought this was a cool article.
    Reply
  • Anemone - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Ok if you read the comment below you'll note they used the NF4 memory controller. Since that was subject to a lot of problems on the NF4 for Intel (not the AMD version) it's a more than decent bet there are still going to be issues. You want to run at stock then by all means the NF5 should be fine. I don't know too many folks running SLI who insist on running at stock however, so I'll take a decent bet that many purchasers of the NF5 are not running stock.

    Article 1: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Preview...">http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Preview...
    "corrupted the registry twice while fiddling with the FSB"

    Hmm, I've managed to corrupt the registry once on an Intel board and that was an old one from years ago. I'm thinking an experienced tester stumbling on that twice might be pushing the envelope or might have a crummy board. Read the conclusions for more fun.

    Article 2: http://www.hothardware.com/viewarticle.aspx?articl...">http://www.hothardware.com/viewarticle.aspx?articl...
    This is a newer article seemingly after the board has had a chance to get a bit more up to speed. Read the conclusing and you'll find they think you probably want to let the board mature a bit.

    Article 3: http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2005/07/29/p4n_ga...">http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2005/07/29/p4n_ga...
    "Unfortunately we found the NVIDIA chipset didn’t enjoy overclocking as much as we’d have hoped"

    Article 4: http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTAyOSw3LC...">http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTAyOSw3LC...
    "yet to see a real reason to purchase an Intel processor based motherboard without an Intel chipset at the heart of the machine"

    Perhaps there might be an issue or two with the Intel variety of the NF4 and then realize that the very same memory controller, which is at the heart of most of the issues with the NF4, is also on the NF5.

    Go to Xtremesystems forums or the H forums if you like and read up. Many folks have had issues, much like the reviewers. Why those and then Anand gets a wonderful review? I've no idea. But another tester of an early board never got above 227mhz fsb. So it's pretty certain the same issues that plagued the NF4 are here in a new wrapper to plague us again.
    Reply

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