The DFI LANParty
series of motherboards are anything but typical. The
LANParty motherboard garners its name from not only its
looks, but all the goodies that are bundled along with it,
making it an excellent centerpiece for a LAN gaming rig.
Someone Say Party?
At All the Purdy Colors
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As you can see
by the bundle, DFI doesn't skimp on trimmings. There
are three manuals included with this motherboard providing
ample documentation on all aspects of the product from quick
installation procedures to all the entire feature set and
how to use every last piece of equipment. The
accessory kit comes with a pair of SATA cables as well as
the SATA power connector. A rear USB bracket and a
packet of thermal grease round out the accessory kit.
A FrontX panel also ships with the LANParty motherboard and
offers USB, IEEE-1394, sound, and diagnostic capabilities at
the front of the case for easy accessibility. Just
slip the FrontX panel into an empty 5.25" bay, make the
appropriate connections to the motherboard and you're off
and running. One minor drawback of the FrontX panel is
the fact that it only comes in a beige color. It would
be nice to see an option for black, since a lot of today's
cases are no longer the typical beige color. A pair of
round, UV reactive cables are thrown in for good measure.
One floppy disk cable and an EIDE cable are in the box.
On the down side, there was only 1 PATA cable with our unit.
We can remember the days of one EIDE cable being sufficient,
but that tends to be the exception rather than the norm in
today's Desktop PC. Sticking with the LANParty theme,
DFI throws in what they like to call the "PC Transpo".
The PC Transpo is perfect for lugging ATX cases from point A
to point B. Besides a few minor drawbacks this has to
be one of the, if not the most complete bundle we've seen
from a motherboard manufacturer. Now, let's take a
closer look at the motherboard itself.
has chosen a green UV sensitive motif for its NFII Ultra B
motherboard. The DIMM slots, FDD and EIDE connectors,
as well as the expansion slots are all composed of the green
UV reactive material. Put this motherboard in a case
with a window and a black light and it really comes to life.
Besides the physical aesthetics being quite extravagant on
this motherboard, there is more under the hood than meets
the eye. This motherboard is packed with add-on
features. Dual LAN, four SATA connectors, three
IEEE-1394 connectors, and up to 6 USB 2.0 ports to name a
few. That's a lot of IOs to stuff onto one motherboard
so let's cover the layout a bit.
The Layout of
the motherboard is well done with only a few setbacks.
The CPU socket area is a bit tight and we had some trouble
installing our Thermaltake Volcano 11+ heatsink onto this
motherboard. So all of those with an oversized after
market heatsink in mind, should check to be sure it will fit
on this motherboard. The ATX power connector is
slammed right up against the CPU fan power header which
makes the wire organization a bit awkward and messy.
The other two fan headers on this motherboard, chassis fan
and utility fan, are squeezed in at the very bottom of the
motherboard, just on the other side of the last PCI slot,
making them extremely hard to reach, especially over PCI add
in cards. Other than those minor quibbles, we liked
the design of this motherboard in terms of the EIDE and FDD
connectors which are the top, right hand side of the
motherboard. This is an ideal placement for even
full-sized towers. The DIMM slots will not interfere
with the AGP slot as we were able to change memory modules
without the removal of the video card. Overall, this
is well designed motherboard and one we find little fault
There are a few
proprietary add-in features to this motherboard. DFI
adds a reset and power button on the bottom of the
motherboard which makes this motherboard extremely easy to
use when sitting outside of a case. This comes is
extremely handy when troubleshooting any problems the
motherboard may have. A passive heatsink was placed on
the Southbridge chip of this motherboard, which is a nice
touch since it does get hot during operation. A
larger, passive heatsink was used on the Northbridge chip as
well. While these passive heatsinks do provide some
head room in terms of overclocking the motherboard, a
heatsink fan combination is preferable of course ,
especially on the Northbridge. Four SATA headers
provide a wealth of RAID configurations such as RAID 0,
1,0+1, and JBOD. The Dual LAN on this motherboard
includes both a 10/100 connection as well as a Gigabit
connection. Overall we were very impressed with all
the options the DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B motherboard has to
LANParty BIOS Setup
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If you were
impressed with this motherboard's hardware, be sure the the
BIOS firmware will not let you down either. The DFI
LANparty motherboard incorporates the Phoenix AWARD BIOS.
There are a lot of details to mention here so let's dive
right in. The advanced chipset screen allows the
timings of the RAM to be set to many different combinations.
Entering the "Genie BIOS" screen is where you'll find the
heart and soul of this BIOS. For those of you with
unlocked Athlon processors, there is wide array of
multipliers to choose from. To compliment this
multipliers, the CPU clock can bet set from 100 MHz all the
way up to 300 MHz in 1 MHz increments. The DRAM clock
is just as adjustable with ratios of "By SPD", 1:1, 2:1, 5:4
and 6:5 to name a few. The AGP clock can be set to
anything from 50 MHz, or 66 MHz all the way to 100MHz in 1
On to the
voltages... We have the option to change the CPU core
voltage from "Auto" all the way up to 2.000V in 0.025V
increments. The DRAM voltage is adjustable all the way
up to 3.30V in 0.1V increments. The AGP and chipset
voltages are also changeable and have five options each.
Now if all these options don't tickle your fancy, then we're
sure this next one will. DFI has called it "CMOS
Reloaded" and it allows the user to save different BIOS
profiles for fast switching. The user can save up to
four different BIOS configurations and distinctly name each
one of those. This screen comes in extremely handy in
the event the BIOS needs to be reset. We were very
impressed with the LANParty NFII Ultra B's BIOS, due to the
fact it is geared directly toward the enthusiast and has
every option you would like to see in such a motherboard.
Let's see how the ABIT AN7 compares.
and UGuru For You