Memory Stress Testing

Optimum tRAS

In past reviews, memory bandwidth tests established that a tRAS of 10 was optimal for the nForce3 chipset and a tRAS setting of 11 or 12 was generally best for nForce2. Since this was the first memory stress test of a production nForce4 board, tRAS timings were first tested with memtest86, a free diagnostic program with its own boot OS that will boot from either a floppy disk or optical disk. Bandwidth was measured from tRAS 5 to tRAS 11 to determine the best setting.

Memtest86 Bandwidth
DFI nForce4 with Athlon64 4000+
5 tRAS 2191
6 tRAS 2242
7 tRAS 2242
8 tRAS 2242
9 tRAS 2141
10 tRAS 2141
11 tRAS 2092

The best bandwidth was achieved in the 6 to 8 range with this combination of nForce4 and the 4000+, so a mid-value tRAS of 7 was chosen for all tests.

Memory Stress Tests

Our memory stress test measures the ability of the DFI to operate at its officially supported memory frequency (400MHz DDR), at the lowest memory timings that OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 modules will support. All DIMMs used for stress testing were 512MB double-sided (or double-bank) memory. To make sure that memory performed properly in Dual-Channel mode, memory was only tested using either one dual-channel (2 DIMMs) or 2 dual-channels (4 DIMMs).

Stable DDR400 Timings - One Dual-Channel
(2/4 DIMMs populated)
Clock Speed: 200MHz
CAS Latency: 2
RAS to CAS Delay: 2T
RAS Precharge: 7T
Precharge Delay: 2T
Command Rate: 1T

Using two DIMMs in Dual-Channel 128-bit mode, the memory performed in all benchmarks at the fastest 2-2-2-7 timings, at default 2.6V voltage.

Tests with 4 DS DIMMs on an AMD Athlon 64 system are more demanding, since AMD specifies DDR333 for this combination. However, most AMD Athlon 64 motherboards combined with recent AMD processors (the memory controller is on the AMD CPU) have been able to handle 4 DIMMs at DDR400.

Stable DDR400 Timings - 4 DIMMs
(4/4 DIMMs populated)
Clock Speed: 200MHz
CAS Latency: 2.0
RAS to CAS Delay: 2T
RAS Precharge: 7T
Precharge Delay: 2T
Command Rate: 2T

Tests with all four DIMM slots populated on the DFI nForce4 boards required a 2T Command Rate with 4 DS DIMMs in two dual channels. This is the pattern seen on other top-performing Socket 939 boards, but we hoped that higher voltage might allow us to eek out 4 DS DIMM 1T performance. However, additional voltage did not help and DDR400 with 4DS DIMMs still required a 2T Command Rate on the DFI nForce4 boards.


Overclocking: DFI nForce4 Test Setup
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  • mob58 - Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - link

    I sprang for the Ultra-D following Anandtechs Review expecting great things. Unfortunately my experiences with this board have been miserable. I'm going to try to RMA it. I've built about a dozen systems and have never had so many problems. I suppose I just got a bad board, but this has soured my opinion of DFI a bit. Any recommendations for an altenate? Reply
  • Quanticles - Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - link

    There isnt any talk of a standardized SLI format, is there? Reply
  • oldbutdumb - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    I won't get into the DFI trap again. I worked real hard to get the first Lan Party NFII A to work then rma'd it and got the NFII B Ultra. Same story. Too many issues of incompatibilities between bios versions and other hardware used with the boards. I don't know if it's DFI's fault or Nvideas but either way your left with a defective system Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

    #110 - Any 2-slot bridge will work on the DFI. The DFI, Gigabyte, and MSI are all 2-slot bridge designs and interchangable. The Asus A8N-SLI is a 3-slot design, and is longer than the other bridges.

    ALL - As of this date of 2/16 all of the DFI Ultra-D boards in the market are still moddable to SLI. No one has received shipments yet of the new revised nF4 Ultra chipset that can not be modded, but they are expecting the first shipments soon.
    Reply
  • mikerand - Sunday, February 13, 2005 - link

    the comment on the review says:
    "DFI has advised us, and posted on their website, that they will NOT sell the SLI bridge to buyers of the Ultra board"

    does this mean if you buy an ultra board and mod it that without this bridge you wont be able to run it in sli mode?

    is dfi the only place you can get this bridge from?
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 12, 2005 - link

    Thanks Wesley. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    #106 - YES, the Sil3114 supports SATA drive mode in addition to various flavors of RAID. Yes, the BIOS does have a CAS 1.5 option. Reply
  • Teleri mm - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    Anyone know for sure if the boards at Newegg are still modable?

    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?desc...

    Teleri
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, February 11, 2005 - link

    Another question (shame you didn't answer my previous ones about overclocking and SATA drives, and whether drive(s) connected to the SiI 3114 controller can be used in non-RAID mode).

    Does the BIOS give the option of a CAS 1.5 setting?
    Reply
  • amgreenwalt - Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - link

    I would like to see a comparison between Asus,Abit,MSI & DFI. My only concern with DFI is the layout. I have a Koolance Case and I like to minimize the amout of cables in the open. Not too sure how that would work in this situation. Is there anyone who has this board with a koolance setup? Reply

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