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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  • bespoke - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Once again, the southbridge chip and fan are right underneath the top video card clot. A large cooling solution on the video card will completely cover the sb chip - possibily preventing the video card from seating correctly and certainly not helping with airflow.

    Please move the SB chip or get rid of the fan! Arrrgh!
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link


    Please move the SB chip or get rid of the fan! Arrrgh!

    Due to the required two chip solution for dual x16 GPU operation, there is not another area on the board to place the chipset and still retain the required trace layouts. Due to the heat generated by the MCP, it requires active cooling or a large passive heatsink (as MSI did on their 570 board). These issues will be solved late this year when NVIDIA goes to a single chip solution for their dual x16 boards. In the meantime, we are not happy either. ;-)
  • Anemone - Thursday, June 29, 2006 - link

    Probably should use DDR2 800 on the Asus and 667 on the 590 as the highest supported on each and recompare. I know that feels unfair but I'm saying that from a "highest supported" basis. Enthusiasts are likely to go beyond that, but you'll be giving the full oc tests a go in the next round.

    Initially however think 533 on both skewed things.
  • Per Hansson - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    "The reference board features an excellent voltage regulator power design along with Rubycon and Sanyo capacitors that yielded superb stability and overclocking results even with our early BIOS and board design."
    Actually those capacitors with a T vent are Panasonic FL, in the 12v input for the VRM and also for the 5v or 12v input for the memory regulators...

    Still very excellent capacitors; if it only where a requirement to also use them on the revised boards by the mainboard manufacturers... Wishful thinking I guess but with continued reporting of what components are used like this by you Anandtech eventually they will listen... (I hope atleast) Again thanks and great work! Hoping you will help to ease the confusion on what chipset to go with that Conroe...
  • Griswold - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    For some reason, pictures of the mobo wont show in Opera (v9) for me. The benchmark charts are there though. What gives? Anyone else experience this?

    Never had any kind of problem with Opera and AT before. :/
  • Per Hansson - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Works fine in Opera 9 here, I think your issue might be that your browser is not set to enable refferer logging (under advanced>network)
  • Griswold - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    That was it. Not sure why that one was off, however, it works now. Thanks a bunch!
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    I will load up Opera 9 and test it shortly.
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    That eSata port looks a lot like the ieee1394B port, any relation? I heard there was apush once for eSata to use Firewire cables, but I thought only one manufacturer was trying for that (maybe Highpoint?).
  • eskimoe - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    First off, thanks for one of the very few test on the new nforce5 intel edition!
    For a long time now I have built my pcs with amd cpus, next month will be the first time since the first p3s that Ill build another intel pc!
    So at the moment, I am not really sure which chipset to use,
    of course it seems natural to use an intel chipset for an intel cpu..
    but the nforce chipsets have been very nice (at least for amd), and theres more competition than in the intel area...
    The only thing that intel has and nvidia doesnt, is the intel matrix storage
    (btw, a single nvidia card shouldnt have any probs running on an intel board/have disadvantages over a single ati card, should it?),
    which sounds very nice in my opinion.. therefore, I'd love to see
    some comparison in the RAID compartement between nforce5 and intel 975/965,
    especially since I cant find any information how RAID5 performs on
    nforce5 and intel chipsets.. until now, all onboard variants were
    very slow/used alot of cpu (at least when writing)
    So, I'd love to see some tests comparing raid0 performance/cpu utilization
    between the chipsets, as well as raid5 tests...
    and perhaps someone knows of some tests on matrix raid 5?
    The possibility to have 3x200gb drives, using for example 500gb as raid0,
    and 100gb as raid5 seems very promising, as long as the raid5 calculations
    are somewhat supported by chipset hardware, not only the cpu!
    Thanks alot

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