Gigabyte K8NNXP-940: Built on Athlon64 FX51 Strengthsby Wesley Fink on October 9, 2003 11:52 PM EST
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Final WordsThe Gigabyte K8NNXP-940 is an impressive motherboard. The performance it exhibits at standard settings in our benchmarks is simply outstanding. The early impressions of the Athlon64 FX51 were that it was not much faster than Athlon64. Perhaps we should recast this to say that the early Athlon64 FX motherboards were not much faster than the Athlon64 motherboards running Athlon64 processors. In almost every benchmark, the Gigabyte K8NNXP-940 with an Athlon64 FX51 tops our fastest Pentium 4 motherboard — the Asus P4C800-E running a 3.2GHz processor. Even the usual P4 stronghold of Content Creation sees the Athlon64 FX51 and 3.2GHz P4 in a dead heat. In almost every other benchmark, the Athlon64 FX51 is a clear winner — over both the Pentium 4 3.2GHz and the Athlon64 3200+. The only exception here is our Media Encoding benchmark, which tends to favor Intel processors and will soon be replaced with an updated benchmark.
The features, layout, and included accessories make the Gigabyte K8NNXP-940 a stellar home for a new FX CPU. Gigabyte has done an outstanding job in the engineering of this Socket 940 motherboard, and in standard testing, it is in every way a winning combination with the Athlon64 FX51. The addition of Multipliers to the release K8NNXP motherboard just sweetens the picture that much more. With the high cost of the FX51, Enthusiasts will need some persuading to pay the price for the FX processor. AMD and Asus were smart to make it clear that the FX51 could be unlocked in the BIOS, unlike regular, cheaper, single-channel Athlon64 chips. Gigabyte becomes the second manufacturer to add the ability to manipulate FX ratios in the BIOS.
With this high praise, we do believe Gigabyte has more work to do on the BIOS of the K8NNXP-940. It is certainly fast and full of options in the release F1 version, but it is disappointing to find that the new CPU ratios do not work reliably, and the FSB often exhibits some strange behaviors — resetting itself to lower values on boot — and we don't just mean default 200. We had two cases where settings of 220 came back at boot as 209.5, and the 12 multiplier only worked at 200 FSB setting.
Despite the issues with the immature BIOS, we still highly recommend the Gigabyte K8NNXP-940. It can take the Enthusiast to new performance heights as it is, and we fully expect even better overclocking with some of the BIOS kinks worked out. It performs better than any Socket 940 board that we have tested so far.
We have been told that we will see at least a couple of new and revised Athlon64 FX motherboards in the near future. They may prove to be even better, in particular, an update with the VIA chipset that is said to have new features for that chipset. However, until we test those Socket 940 boards and perhaps find one that performs even better, the Gigabyte K8NNXP-940 is King of the Hill.