Our Summary & Conclusions
Benchmark Summary: Looking back at the results from our battery of benchmarks, its clear that the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR was technically the "fastest" board in this round-up. Admittedly, its margins of victory in most tests were relatively small, but its consistent first-place finishes show that DFI's board was the best overall performer. The MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI and Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI performed similarly throughout our testing, which is to say they both performed very well, but they fell just shy of the pace set by the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR.
DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR:
Without a doubt, our favorite SLI capable motherboard in this round-up is the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR. The LANParty NF4 SLI-DR offers everything that enthusiasts look for in a high-end motherboard, and it does so with style and high performance. At roughly $210 on-line, the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR is the most expensive board of the bunch, but its extensive bundle, feature-rich BIOS, overclocking prowess, stability, and performance definitely justify the extra investment. DFI has a clear winner in their product line-up in the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR. Based on its best-of-class performance, excellent overclocking capabilities, top-notch BIOS and impressive bundle, we're giving the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR a 9.5 on the Heat Meter and a much deserved Editor's Choice award.
The Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI is a very good product, that is worthy of your consideration should you be in the market for an nForce 4 SLI based motherboard. With its approximate $175 price-tag, the K8NXP-SLI is significantly less expensive than the DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR, and depending on your needs, its accessory bundle may be more appealing than DFI's. The included wireless LAN adapter, plethora of cables, and DPS (Dual Power System) certainly increase the value if the K8NXP-SLI's bundle. We weren't exactly pleased by the extremely tight DIMM slots and our sample wouldn't overclock nearly as high as either of the other motherboards we looked at in this article, but if you're not a hardcore overclocker and don't plan to use memory modules with oversized heat spreaders, these perceived shortcomings probably won't be an issue. In the end, we think the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI is a solid motherboard that is in the unfortunately position of having to compete with the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR. We're giving the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI an 8.5 on the Heat Meter.
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI:
After having the pleasure of working with MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum nForce 3 powered board, which won our Editor's Choice award in September '04, and seeing the integrated Creative Labs audio and PCI Express SATA II Silicon Image controller at CES, we expected great things from the K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI. But when all was said and done, this board was overshadowed by the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR. The K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI was surprisingly the least expensive product in this round-up, coming in at about $160, but its relatively low price wasn't enough to propel the K8N Neo4 ahead of DFI board. Had the Silicon Image PCI Express controller worked without issue, if the bundle was a bit better, and the SLI card retention mechanism been more solid, we would have ranked this board higher. As it stands now though, the K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI is a good product that could use a bit of refinement. We're giving it an 8 on the Heat Meter, and are looking forward to the next revision of this board that is likely to incorporate a digital SLI bridge.