DFI LanParty and Abit AN7 NFII Ultra Motherboards - HotHardware

DFI LanParty and Abit AN7 NFII Ultra Motherboards

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DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B vs. ABIT AN7
The Clash of the nForce2 Ultra's

By: Tom Laverriere
February 29, 2004

     

Fast, stable, feature-rich and affordable, these are just some of the words we have chosen historically, when speaking about NVIDIA's nForce2 chipset.  Over the past year we have seen quite a few of these motherboards come through the HotHardware labs and most lived up to our expectations surrounding this Athlon motherboard chipset technology.  When considering a motherboard sporting the nForce2 chipset, there usually isn't a lot to differentiate one manufacturer from another.  The same set of features such as Dual  Channel DDR memory support, 8X AGP, and USB 2.0, to mention a few, are standard on all these motherboards.  However, a product that sets itself apart from the rest is what the enthusiast crowd is always yearning for.  Today, in the HotHardware labs we have two motherboards that aim to achieve that status.

While initially you may be thinking these two motherboards are going to be just your run-of-the-mill type nForce2 Ultra motherboards, you could be in for a nice surprise, since they come from the likes of Abit and DFI.  Both of these motherboards aim to truly please the enthusiast crowd with a unique set of BIOS tools.  DFI touts its "CMOS Reloaded" feature while the ABIT AN7 bears its own "μGuru" trademark.  While these two new innovations are very different in terms of their functionality, both companies are targeting the same end result, allowing users to tweak settings to the outer limits of performance, with greater ease.  Let's see what the DFI LANParty NFII Ultra and ABIT AN7 are all about.

Specifications & Features
Your Not So Typical NFII Motherboards


DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B

CPU
AMD Athlon(TM) XP 266/333/400MHz FSB
AMD Athlon(TM) 200/266MHz FSB
 

Chipset
nVIDIA® nForce2 chipset
  - nForce2 Ultra 400
  - nForce2 MCP

 

BIOS

Award BIOS, Windows® 95/98/2000/ME/XP Plug and Play compatible
Genie BIOS provides:
  - CPU/DRAM overclocking
  - CPU/AGP/DRAM/Chipset overvoltage
Flash EPROM for easy BIOS upgrades
4Mbit flash memory


Memory
Supports dual channel memory interface
Supports up to 3GB memory (unbuffered DIMM)
Supports PC1600 (DDR200), PC2100 (DDR266), PC2700(DDR333) and PC3200 (DDR400)
DDR SDRAM DIMM, 2.5V type
Three 184-pin DDR SDRAM DIMM sockets

 

Expansion Slots

1 AGP slot that supports 8x/4x AGP
5 PCI slots



Audio
AC'97 2.2 S/PDIF extension compliant codec
6-channel audio output

 

LAN

nVIDIA® nForce2 MCP and ICS1893 PHY chips
Integrated IEEE 802.3, 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX compatible PHY


Hardware Monitor
Monitors CPU/system temperature
Monitors ±12V/5V/3.3V/VBAT(V)/5VSB(V) voltages
Monitors CPU/chassis fan speed
Read back capability that displays temperature, voltage and fan speed
CPU Temperature Protection function monitors CPU temperature during
system boot-up and within OS, with included utility

 

PCI IDE

Supports ATA/33, ATA/66, ATA/100 and ATA/133 hard drives
UDMA Modes 3, 4, 5 and 6 Enhanced IDE (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)


SATA IDE
Silicon Image RAID Controller with 4 SATA Channels

SATA 150 RAID 0/1 configurations
 

Rear Panel I/O Ports

4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 RJ45 LAN ports
2 DB-9 serial ports
1 DB-25 parallel port
1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port
1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port
3 audio jacks: line-out, line-in and mic-in

 

I/O Connectors

1 connector for 2 additional external USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 connector for 1 external game/MIDI port
1 front audio connector for external line-out and mic-in jacks
2 internal audio connectors (AUX-in and CD-in)
1 4-channel audio output connector
1 S/PDIF-in/out connector
1 connector for IrDA interface
1 connector for serial ATA interface
2 IDE connectors
1 floppy connector
2 ATX power supply connectors
1 Wake-On-LAN connector
3 fan connectors for CPU fan, chassis fan and second fan

 

PCB

4 layers, ATX form factor
30.5cm (12") x 24.5cm (9.64")

 
ABIT AN7

CPU
Supports AMD-K7 Socket A 266/333/400 MHz FSB Processor
 

Chipset
NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset with MCP-T
Integrated 128-bit memory controller
Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)

 

Memory
Three 184-pin DIMM sockets
Supports 3 DIMM Un-buffered DDR 266/333
Supports 2 DIMM Un-buffered DDR 400

 

ABIT Engineered

ABIT μGuru? Technology
ABIT SoftMenu? Technology
ABIT FanEQ? Technology
ABIT MaxFID? Technology
ABIT CPU ThermalGuard? Technology
ABIT FlashMenu?


SATA 150 RAID

On board Silicon Image SATA PCI Controller
Support 2 channels SATA 150 RAID 0/1

 

PCI IDE

Supports ATA/33, ATA/66, ATA/100 and ATA/133 hard drives
UDMA Modes 3, 4, 5 and 6 Enhanced IDE (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)


Audio
6-Channel AC 97 CODEC on board
Professional digital audio interface supports optical S/P DIF In/Out
NVIDIA SoundStormTM Technology with real-time Dolby Digital 5.1 encoder

 

LAN

On board Realtek 10/100 LAN


IEEE 1394
3 ports IEEE1394 Supports 400 Mb/s data transfer rate

 

Hardware Monitor
Monitors CPU/system temperature
Monitors ±12V/5V/3.3V/VBAT(V)/5VSB(V) voltages
Monitors CPU/chassis fan speed
Read back capability that displays temperature, voltage and fan speed
CPU Temperature Protection function monitors CPU temperature during
system boot-up and within OS, with included utility

 

Rear Panel I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
1 x Serial Port connectors, 1 x Parallel Port connector
1 x S/P DIF Input, 1 x S/P DIF Output
Audio connectors (Front Speaker, Line-in, Mic-in, Center/Sub, Surround Speaker)
2 x USB, 1 x IEEE1394 Connector
2 x USB, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector

 

I/O Connectors

1 AGP 8X/4X slot, 5 PCI slots
Floppy Port supports up to 2.88 MB
2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 Connectors
2 x SATA 150 Connectors
2 x USB headers, 1 x IEEE 1394a header, 2 x CD-IN

 

PCB

245 x 305mm ATX form factor


Besides the length of the feature list, there are quite a few differences between these motherboards.  Performance wise, both motherboards are aimed at the enthusiast crowd, but the DFI LANParty motherboard also delivers enthusiast type bells and whistles.   This motherboard offers everything from Dual Ethernet LAN capabilities to 4 channels of SATA with RAID and everything in between.  It's obvious that the DFI motherboard had the enthusiast in mind when designing this motherboard, but all of that comes at a price of course.  The DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B weighs in a hefty $50 more than the ABIT AN7 on various search engines.  On the other hand, as you will see in the pages ahead, it's easier to justify the price tag that comes along with a full featured motherboard like the DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B.  All that said, the ABIT AN7 has its own respectable list of features and offers the functionality most users would ever need.  Let's delve into each of these motherboards a bit deeper.

What a LANParty Looks Like

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