NVIDIA's nForce Reference System!

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NVIDIA's nForce Reference System! - Page 3

NVIDIA's nForce Reference System
NVIDIA's Vision for a New PC Platform

By, Marco Chiappetta
January 16, 2002

Synthetic benchmarks only tell part of the story.  We'll move on to more gaming and "real world" tests next.  We ran a series of time demos with Quake 3 Arena v1.17, set at the "Fastest" and "High Quality" video options, using the nForce's integrated GeForce 2 video.

Some OpenGL Performance
The Ubiquitous Quake 3 Arena


As you can see, the nForce's integrated video performs quite well in 16-Bit color tests.  Having an integrated GeForce 2 MX puts the nForce's video performance head and shoulders above any other on-board solutions.  We don't have any comparison numbers posted because we could not configure another system with integrated video with similar components and an AMD processor.  That statement alone should speak volumes to you.  The nForce is currently "one of a kind".


For the "High Quality" testing, we also set the Geometry and Texture detail to their maximum settings.  Here we again see admirable performance from the nForce's IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor).  These number won't excite too many hardcore gamers out there but hardcore gamers aren't the one's who'll be using the integrated video anyway.


More Performance
More of the Good Stuff!

We also ran ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2001 and Content Creation Winstone 2002 benchmarks on the nForce reference system.  We compared it's performance to the KT266A powered Abit KR7A using the same processor and memory configuration (technically).

First, we ran Business Winstone 2001.  To explain exactly what this test entails, I'll re-use a quote taken directly from ZD's eTestingLabs website:

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."


The nForce bests the KT266A in the Business Winstone tests by a small margin.  Something interesting to note is that although both test systems were configured with 256MB of RAM, the nForce had "only" 224MB available, because 32MB was reserved for the IGP.  If we had used an add-on video board or added another 32MB of RAM to the nForce system, it's lead would probably have been greater.



CC Winstone 2002 uses the following applications in its battery of tests:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.0
  • Macromedia Director 8.5
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4
  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder
  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01
  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

The Content Creation benchmark taxes system bandwidth and the FPU more heavily than the "Office Type" applications that are run in the Business Winstone test.

The tables are turned here.  The KT266A was about 8% "faster" than the nForce in the Content Creation tests.  Again, we should remind you that the nForce had 32MB less RAM available because of the IGP.  Without this limitation, the scores would surely be closer.




There is a lot to consider when thinking about the nForce because it succeeds on so many levels.  As an "integrated" platform, it simply has no rival (at least not yet).  The integrated GeForce 2 video is far superior to any other integrated solution currently on the market.  The integrated audio processing unit is also top notch, as is the integrated NIC.  For someone looking to quickly and cheaply build a system, the nForce is an excellent choice.  Add drives, a case, RAM and a CPU and you've got a complete system that will be a snap to configure.  The really exciting thing is, power users would only have to purchase a higher end video card and they too would have an excellent system.  While retail nForce boards will cost more than most others, the fact that you won't have to purchase a sound card or a NIC offsets the higher price of the motherboard.

NVIDIA has done an excellent job with the nForce.  It is a highly integrated, yet high performing chipset that fits into a broad range of markets.  Because this is not a retail product, and most of you will never have this particular piece of hardware in your possession, we will hold of on posting a rating.  We are however very excited to get "retail" nForce boards into the lab and fully expect the nForce to gain mass acceptance with both OEMs and enthusiasts alike.


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Tags:  Nvidia, nforce, system, STEM, force, id

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