Basic Features: nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400Gb Reference Board


 Reference Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket A (462) Athlon XP
Chipset nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400/nForce2 MCP-Gb
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 465MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds Auto
Core Voltage 1.60V - 1.75V
DRAM Voltage 2.6V - 2.8V
AGP Voltage 1.5V - 1.7V
VAUX Overvoltage 1.675V - 1.75V
VID Override 1.1V - 1.85V
Memory Slots Three 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Unbuffered DDR Memory
Memory Speeds Auto, 50%-200%
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard Serial ATA 2 drives by MCP-Gb
Onboard IDE Two Standard MCP ATA133/100/66 (4 drives)
Onboard RAID Up to 6 drives - combined SATA and IDE
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by 8237
No Firewire
Onboard LAN MCP-Gb on-chip Gigabit LAN
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC655 codec AC '97 2.3
6-Channel with NVSwap


Reference Boards are designed for testing and qualification and will not likely see production as a retail product. However, the nForce2 is a mature product and that shows in a very full-featured Reference board with a wealth of fine-tuning controls for voltage and memory. The only things missing are ratio or multiplier controls and a wide FSB range above 400, which would be useful for testing overclocking. However, you will likely see these options on production boards.

Gb stands for the on-chip Gigabit LAN that is provided by the MCP-Gb chip. Functions are the same as the nVidia Gigabit LAN introduced on the nF3-250Gb chipset. That is, LAN is off the PCI bus, which removes a potential bottleneck to LAN performance. Details of the nVidia Gigabit LAN can be found in our nForce3-250Gb review.




Click to enlarge.


The on-chip Firewall is another feature that has migrated from the nF3-250 to the nForce2 Ultra 400Gb. nVidia Firewall is a driver-based, hardware-optimized personal Firewall that is integrated directly into motherboard silicon. The Firewall is controlled by an Internet Explorer based Utility that allows complete adjustments and customization of the Firewall. The "Firewall Wizards" capture should give you a better idea of the capabilities of the on-chip Firewall. More information on the firewall can be found here in our nF3-250Gb review.



nVidia's RAID was introduced on nF3-250 and is now implemented in both the Gb and R versions of Ultra 400. The RAID is unique in that IDE and SATA drives can be combined in RAID configurations. Where the nForce3-250GB provided up to 4 SATA drives, nF2 Ultra 400Gb/R provides support for just 2 SATA drives.



nVidia does not have built-in provisions for Firewire in the nForce2 Ultra400Gb, but this can be added by board makers with additional chips. 8 USB ports are available, with 4 rear connectors on the Reference Board.

A Closer Look at nForce2 Ultra 400Gb System Utility
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  • vkristof - Monday, May 24, 2004 - link

    Does anybody know when any Ultra 400GB MBs will be available for purchase? Reply
  • plonk420 - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    i mainly want to see Xvid tests in addition to Divx, since Divx is HEAVILY weighted in Intel's favor. plus it's pretty decently superior to Divx ^_^ and there's no excuse, now that Xvid's gone one-point-oh Reply
  • Gandalf90125 - Monday, May 17, 2004 - link

    "Performance on shipping boards will be the same as any other nForce 2 Ultra 400 board - this is about added features."

    Consequently, it could be argued that the benchmarks are pointless.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, May 15, 2004 - link

    #9 - We actually do more overclocking tests at AnandTech today than we have ever done in the past. Check our recent reviews of motherboards where we reach 347 FSB or memory where we test at DDR570.

    We always test OC on full retail reviews, but the chipset in the review is well known here. This is also a Reference Board - not designed to test overclocking since there are no ratios. We did test OC on the VIA K8T800 PRO Reference Board because the PCI/AGP lock was a new feature on that chipset. However the core chipset capabilities are well know here and there seemed little point to doing OC tests, when the capabilities of the nForce2 Ultra 400 are already well known. 400Gb is a features upgrade using a new MCP (or southbridge), not a new chipset.
    Reply
  • noxipoo - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Does anandtech do overclocking tests anymore? where is anand these days Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    #6 - With chipset introductions and Reference Boards we expected you would be more interested in where they "fit" overall, which is why the Athlon 64 comparisons.

    You can't buy a Reference Board, and the nForce2 Ultra 400 SPP is the same chip used by nVidia for months. So, there is really nothing new in performance here.

    Performance on shipping boards will be the same as any other nForce 2 Ultra 400 board - this is about added features.
    Reply
  • GokieKS - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Even though the GbE is a great feature (thanks to 2 875P systems, I've already got a GbE network set up, and I can't imagine going back to 100Mbps), I'm more interested in the older nF2 boards with MCP-T, which hopefully will drop in price because of this, to be paired with something like an AXP-M 2400+. :)

    ~KS
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Not to be an ass, but what good is it to compare this to Athlon 64 boards? That tells me absolutely nothing about whether I should buy it to replace my A7N8X Deluxe or not. I see a few tests were done with an nForce2 motherboard... yay. There shouldn't be ANY socket 754, 940, or 939 boards in this review since they use entirely different processors.
    Hey... why didn't ya throw in some Intel 865 chipset mobo's in there for comparision too?

    ... I'm confused... all this tells me is that an Athlon-64 solution is most likely going to be better than sticking with socket A... and I didn't need to read this article to figure that out, I thought it was a well known fact.
    Reply
  • Gromis - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    #3, but how often do people upgrade CPUs anyway? I'm a tech in a PC shop, and from what I see, not a whole lot. By the time you start thinking about upgrades, you find yourself in a market for a complete new PC anyway. Those who upgrade every 6-12 months are an extremely tiny minority. I myself used a PII/350 for nearly 5 years, swapped it for a Duron 1200 a year ago, planning next upgrade in another 8-9 months - most likely A64 by then. Reply
  • hifisoftware - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Nice article, but when will we see motherboards with this chipset? It is going to take 3+ month for them to come out then it is a not very usefull chipset. Reply

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