nForce 4 SLI Motherboard Round-Up
Introduction & The nForce 4 Chipset
Every so often a new technology, or a new piece of hardware, comes along that polarizes the PC enthusiast community. One such product is the recently released NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI chipset. The nForce 4 SLI chipset is the preferred platform for NVIDIA's Scalable Link Interface technology, that gives users the ability to use a pair of GeForce 6x00 graphics cards in tandem for increased 3D rendering performance. NVIDIA's current SLI technology, not to be confused with the now extinct 3dfx's version of SLI (ScanLine Interleave), has shown much promise, but there is a large contingent in the enthusiast community that hasn't fully embraced NVIDIA's new SLI. Some claim it's not quite ready for prime time, because the drivers don't work with every game, or games that are supported don't function properly or have rendering problems, official driver releases have been few and far between, and in many cases a pair of high-end GeForce 6 cards are held back by even the fastest processors available. On the flip-side, some claim the performance increases offered by SLI are undeniably impressive, support for more games is inevitably on the way, and even without its SLI functionality, the nForce 4 SLI outshines most other chipsets in terms of features anyway.
All of these are valid points worthy of debate, but the simple truth is that NVIDIA is standing behind their technology and its here to stay. Products based on the NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI chipset are on store shelves, and consumers need to know which one could potentially suit their needs. Although NVIDIA's nForce 4 SLI chipset is soon also going migrate to the Intel platform, for now it's AMD that gets to share the spotlight with NVIDIA. The nForce 4 SLI is the current flagship chipset for socket 939 Athlon 64 processors. Today we're going to take a look at three enthusiast-class nForce 4 SLI based motherboards, the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR, the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI and the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI. Each of these motherboards implements the nForce 4 SLI chipset in a slightly different way, and offers its own unique set of features. Read on to see which ones we thought were the best of its class.
Advanced networking features
Fast Ultra ATA-133 Disk Drive Controller
PCI Express interface
NVIDIA Firewall technology
There are a few core technologies that NVIDIA offers with the nForce 4 chipset, that help differentiate it from competing solutions. We've got the complete list of specifications posted above for your perusal, but we've also covered them in-depth in other recent articles here at HotHardware.com. In our nForce 4 preview, posted in late October of last year, we highlighted the main features of the chipset and did a quick performance comparison versus the nForce 3. We have also recently reviewed the Asus A8N-SLI motherboard, which is based on the nForce 4 SLI chipset, and explained NVIDIA's multi-GPU strategy and implementation when the technology was initially announced. If you'd like more background on the nForce 4 and NVIDIA's SLI technology, we suggest reading those articles. They'll give you lots of insight as to what the nForce 4 SLI chipset, used on the motherboards you'll see on the following pages, brings to the table. By the time you're done reading, you'll be an expert.
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