NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400Gb

Article Index

The Drivers, System Utility, and Overclocking


The Chipset Drivers
Speed, Stability and Security


The screen shots below portray the web interface which is used to adjust settings for the Gigabit Ethernet, the Firewall, and the Administration of these particular settings.






As you can see from the screen shots, NVIDIA's firewall is highly configurable.  We felt that the web interface included with the latest nForce Chipset Drivers is an extremely valuable tool in this age of worms and viruses and is a nice upgrade compared to the default firewall that ships with the Windows operating system.


There are three main sections in the interface which allow for basic setup of the Gigabit Ethernet connection, the Firewall, and remote Administration.  The Gigabit Ethernet basic setup page allows for changes to the Speed Duplex, CPU Utilization, and Remote Wake-up to name a few.  This page will allow the user to achieve the best connection possible without sacrificing overall system performance.  Also available to the Ethernet connection is a graphical representation which shows the status of the current connection.


The basic page for the Firewall offers some predefined security profiles with the default setting of Medium in place.  The Medium profile offers good security, but for all those that want to manually change the settings, the Advanced page will do the trick.  A graphical representation is also available for the Firewall showing how many packets have been blocked and how many have been allowed to pass through.


Finally, the Administration page allows for settings such as remote access to the Web Interface which can be set to a specific IP address.  Overall, this Web Interface was easy to use and should make setting up the firewall a reasonable job for both novices and enthusiasts alike.

The System Utility
Overclocking on the Fly

NVIDIA's System Utility is not entirely new, but this is the latest version of the product.  This program serves as a graphical user interface that hooks into the BIOS and allows for real time changes to certain BIOS settings.


Compared to the first release of this utility, we have found major improvements in this next generation product.  The interface is much cleaner and easier to use and should be, to most, self explanatory.  There are basically three major pages to this utility: The Basic Settings page, Advanced Settings page, and System Info.

Anything on the Basic Settings page, which reflects certain BIOS settings, can be altered on-the-fly from within Windows.  So the user can make an adjustments, apply the settings, and the changes are made instantly.  The Basic Settings page allows for adjustments to the Memory timings, Front Side Bus speed, AGP speed, and all major voltages including CPU, Memory, Chipset, and AGP voltages.  

The Advanced Settings page has a bit more detail as one would imagine, but all changes made here require a system reboot in order to take effect.  Such settings include the CPU multiplier as well as more detailed Memory timings.  Also on this page are AGP Aperture size and AGP 8X support.

The System Information page is pretty much exactly that, and offers data on specific device driver versions such as audio, video, and DirectX to name a few.  Also listed here are the current speed the system is operating at and detailed information about the particular CPU, such as its stepping and ID.  All in all this page operates similar to the WCPUID tool we use from time to time in the HotHardware labs.  

Accompanying each screen is a graphical read out of all the voltages and the speed of the Memory, Front Side Bus, and AGP as well as the CPU temperature and fan speed.  These readings help this utility to function as a system monitor which allows the user to keep an eye all the system's vitals.  

We were very impressed with this utility and think it was a breeze to use when it came to overclocking.  We hope motherboard vendors see the benefits of this tool, and incorporate the necessary hooks into their BIOSes to support all of its functionality.

Going Above and Beyond


With the System Utility, we first started by raising the Front Side Bus speed a few MHz at a time and then applying the settings.  With each safe adjustment we ran through some benchmarks to ensure system stability.  After a couple of adjustments to the Front Side Bus speed, we would raise the CPU and Memory voltages to support the increased system speed.  The key in using this utility, or even when overclocking via the BIOS, is to make small jumps and test the system each time.  Incorporating this method we were able to hit a 199 MHz front side bus giving us a CPU speed of 12.5 x 199MHz = 2487.5 MHz!  This is a 412.5 MHz increase over the default setting of 12.5 x 166MHz = 2075 MHz.  While our particular CPU is unlocked, we were unable to alter the multiplier since the BIOS on this reference board did not yet support it.  We were informed by NVIDIA that this would be taken care of in the next BIOS revision and System Utility.  In any event, this is a respectable overclock and what makes it even better is we never had to reboot the system the entire time.


Tags:  Nvidia, nforce, Ultra, force, GB, ULT, id

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