GA-K8NXP-9 nForce4 Ultra Motherboard Review
quickly moving from the AGP architecture to PCI Express, largely because gamers
are its target market and the demands placed on graphics cards continue to
rise with remarkable speed. PCI Express can alleviate the substantial PCI bus
bottleneck between system components, processor and memory. It also increases the available bandwidth to PCI Express x16
videocards by several orders over that of AGP 8X cards. For example, a PCI Express x1 slot has 250MB/s worth of
bandwidth, almost twice that of the whole PCI bus! The PCI Express x16 slot, which is used to
support the new class of PCI Express videocards, tops out at a massive 8GB/s
the release of the
nVidia nForce 4, and VIA K8T890 chipsets, PCI Express solutions were the domain of Intel systems,
and Intel alone. The introduction of PCI Express graphics solutions to the
socket 939 Athlon 64 platform is a shining example of manufacturers
giving consumers what they want, and on time no less.
Over the course of this review, PCstats will explain the
attributes of nVidia's hot new nForce 4 Ultra chipset, the benefits of this
technology, and how it application on the Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 motherboard
performs. As the nVidia 'CK804' chipset soldered to this board is an
engineering sample, there may, or may not be a bit of latitude to the results
against that of a retail bought solution.
event, the Gigabyte
GA-K8NXP-9 is bound to
be a favourite solution, for not only does it incorporate the all important PCI
Express x16 slot alongside an Athlon64 64-bit processor, but it also
features a remarkable array of goodies. For starters the GA-K8NXP-9 includes
an additional Silicon Image Sil3114CT176 SATA I/RAID controller, IEEE 1394b
Firewire, 7.1-channel audio, Gigabyte's DPS2 power system,
dual Gigabit NICs as well as a full PCI 802.11g wireless network PCI card, and even a dual BIOS!
Of course there's more to the nForce4 Ultra than
just PCI Express. One of the most exciting new features is the integration of
four Serial ATA II channels. With compatible hard drives, SATA II can burst
transfer up to 300MB/s, twice that of standard SATA drives. Sustained transfer
rates will be substantially lower than that, but I'm willing to wager they will
still be comfortably higher than today's fastest SATA hard drives can muster.
Since this is our first
nForce 4 motherboard review, let's run through the new features the nVidia nForce 4 chipset
introduces to the Athlon 64 platform.