NVIDIA's NFORCE3 250Gb - New Motherboards from MSI and EPoX

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Winstone Testing Suite and Final Thoughts

 

Content Creation and Business Winstone 2004
Multimedia and Workstation Performance Testing

For our last round of tests we ran both Content Creation Winstone 2004 and Business Winstone 2004.  Each application gauges a system's overall performance with workstation and multimedia applications.  Content Creation 2004 tests multimedia intensive applications, while Business Winstone 2004 compares performance with common workstation applications.  Below is a list of the programs each test uses to calculate its final score.

 

Business Winstone 2004

  • Microsoft Access 2002
  • Microsoft Excel 2002
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2002
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2002
  • Microsoft Project 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Norton Antivirus Professional 2003
  • WinZip 8.1

Content Creation 2004

  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.50
  • Macromedia Director MX 9.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Media
  • Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

With both Content Creation and Business Winstone, we saw a different pattern altogether.  With Content Creation, the SiS755 and K8T800 models had the best all around performance followed by the EPoX EP-8KDA3+ in third and the MSI K8N Neo Platinum last.  The SiS755 held 2 points over the Neo Platinum which doesn't sound like much at first, but it's a difference of 7%.  The EPoX board trailed the SiS755 by 4.5%.

Business Winstone, on the other hand, was a strong point for the EPoX EP-8KDA3+, topping all boards by a minimum of 8% when compared to the SiS755 reference board.  The MSI K8N Neo Platinum just beat the K8T800 board by a fraction of a point for a third spot.

While most test results were very close and the differences almost negligable in the grand scheme of our tests, the results with the Winstone's were more telling.  From what these two prerelease boards show, the EPoX EP-8KDA3+ is making a strong case for being a top performer.  On the flip-side, the SiS755 chipset is showing it's the real thing as well.

 

Final Thoughts on the MSI K8N Neo Platinum:

From a physical standpoint, the MSI K8N Neo Platinum is gorgeous.  The board comes printed on a black PCB with a range of colors used for each of its components.  We were particularly taken with MSI's approach to the component placement, most importantly being the vertical DIMM placement.  It's refreshing to see a company think outside the box and come up with a new way of dealing with specifc design issues.  However, while the DIMM placement was surperb, we had concerns with the SATA, Floppy, and IDE connections that appeared scattered throughout the board. With each port occuppied, there was a lot of cabling in all areas of the board, making it somewhat difficult to tame.

From a feature set perspective, the K8N Neo Platinum came packed with everything you could want.  USB2, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, Hardware Firewall, you name it, MSI took full advantage of the NFORCE3 250's native capabilities and put them all to good use.  On the performance side, this pre-release model was certainly not the fastest board on the block, but that's not to say it was slow.  In fact, the board performed well overall and a future "release" BIOS update may tip the scales in MSI's favor.  Overclocking was average, and frequent system lockups, when overclocking slightly too agressively, were troublesome.  However, we'll have to reserve total judgement until the retail version is released to the public.

___ ___
  • Good Performance
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Awesome Feature set
  • Intelligent DIMM layout

 

  • Finicky Overclocker
  • Component placement lends to messy cabling

 

Final Thoughts on the EPoX EP-8KDA3+:

The feature set of the EPoX EP-8KDA3+ was a mixed bag.  On the one side, coming with 6 PCI and 6 SATA ports were a major plus, but the lack of FireWire was a little surprising in our opinion.  The overal component placement was good, although putting 2 SATA ports next to the AGP slot was peculiar and the common AGP/DIMM hinge conflict was disappointing.  The overclocking performance was quite good with minimal problems.  We're fairly certain if we spent more time with it, we could hit even higher numbers with this motherboard.  When we pushed too high, the board reacted with random reboots, but this was expected and easily recovered from.

This board managed to return the better of the NFORCE3 scores in virtually every test we threw at it.  Whether its perfomance will be indicative of the full "retail" model remains to be seen.  However, if the scores we've seen today are a sign of things to come, we are definitely keeping an eye on this board.

___ ___
  • Fast/Stable
  • Good BIOS Features
  • Overclocking
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 6 PCI Slots

 

  • No IEEE1394
  • Strange SATA Placement
  • AGP/DIMM hinge Conflict

 

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