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MSI K8N Neo-FIS2R Platinum NF3-250Gb Motherboard Review

MSI K8N Neo-FIS2R Platinum NF3-250Gb Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: When AMD integrated a memory controller into the Athlon64 processor, they took away one of the key performance features that differentiates one chipset from another.
 91% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI May 18 2004   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI K8N Neo-FIS2R

The NF3-250Gb Chipset

nVIDIA's new NF3-250 Athlon64 chipset addresses all the issues people had with the original NF3-150.

For starters, the NF3-250 is a single chip solution like the NF3-150, but it now natively supports four Serial ATA drives as well as SATA RAID!

By default "NVIDIA RAID" supports the usual RAID modes 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD. One very cool feature is you can mix and match IDE and Serial ATA drives in a RAID array up to a maximum of four Serial ATA devices, and two IDE.

While I doubt the vast majority of end users will take advantage of Gigabit ethernet any time soon, many were not pleased that the NF3-150 only included a 10/100 MAC. nVIDIA has gone all the ay this time, their onboard Gigabit NIC does not run on the PCI bus, like most traditional Gigabit NIC's, rather it runs on its own private bus very much like Intel's CSA Gigabit Ethernet!

nVIDIA have also increased the number of USB 2.0 ports from six (on the NF3-150) to eight for the NF3-250 chipset. Apparently nVIDIA has optimized the NF3-250 for use with their own videocards as well, of course that does not mean non-nVIDIA based videocards won't run.

For testing we're going to put an Asus Radeon 9800XT head-to-head against a Gigabyte GeForceFX 5950 Ultra to see which is really faster and by how much. :-)

nVIDIA Firewall!

One feature that we really like about nVIDIA's nForce3-250Gb is the onboard hardware firewall. With more people jumping on broadband, it's important to safeguard your PC against possible worm/hacker attacks. nVIDIA has taken it upon themselves to include a hardware firewall with their nForce2-Ultra400Gb, and nForce3-250Gb chipsets which should protect their users from possible attacks.

To access the Firewall functions you simply double click on the "nVIDIA Web-based Interface" icon on your desktop, or in the programs menu and that will bring up the above window. nVIDIA has organized their Network Access Manager into three different categories; Ethernet, Firewall and Administration. Clicking on any of the headings or links in the main window changes the menu to the left.

For instance, selecting the Firewall setup gives you the following options shown above. You can use nVIDIA's defined levels which is recommended, or configure things yourself. The hardware firewall allows you to configure what ports are opened, closed or in stealth mode. Once changes are made, the network interface needs to be restarted. Simply give your PC a few minutes and you'll be all set. If you suspect any suspicious activity you can always look things up in the firewall logs.

Please note though, the onboard hardware firewall is not enabled by default, and you will need to access the Network Access Manager before this feature is turned on. Once the nVIDIA hardware firewall is turned on it should protect your computer against the most common attacks.

Oh, Faster HyperTransport and Locks too!

Another area nVIDIA received a lot of flak from end users about, with respect to the NF3-150 chipset, was the way they implemented HyperTransport. It only ran at 600 MHz and to make things even worse, the upstream connection was only 8-bits wide! In comparison, VIA's K8T800 HyperTransport moved data along at the full 800 MHz bus speed, while running on a 16-bit wide bus both up, and downstream.

In theory this would mean that VIA's implementation of HyperTransport would be faster but in real world benchmarks it didn't seem to make much of a difference (though VIA did enjoy a small lead). Still, you can bet nVIDIA's competition let the world know that the nForce3-150's HyperTransport moved slower.

In the server world a slower HyperTransport should be more apparent due to the higher bandwidth needs of those computers, but we're not dealing with servers now are we?

nVIDIA silenced all their critics with the NF3-250, making certain that both Hypertransport streams (up and down) are 16 bits wide, and paced at 1000MHz instead of 800MHz. At this speed, nVIDIA has no rivals, and currently has the fastest Athlon64 platform out.

While ATI focused on creating an Intel chipset, nVIDIA have been producing some pretty nice AMD chipsets for both K7 and K8 platforms - though they never seem to get it right the first time out. Nvidia were first to introduce a dual channel memory architecture for the AMD platform, and they were also first to lock the AGP/PCI bus.

While the nForce3-150 had AGP/PCI locking capabilities, for one reason or another manufacturers never seemed to adopt them. Things are different this time around; all nForce3-250 based motherboards we've tested feature functioning AGP/PCI locks. This frees up enthusiasts overclock better, and not worry about their other system components (like videocard or Serial ATA HDD's) holding them back.

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Contents of Article: MSI K8N Neo-FIS2R
 Pg 1.  MSI K8N Neo-FIS2R Platinum NF3-250Gb Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — The NF3-250Gb Chipset
 Pg 3.  MSI CoreCell Chip and Overclocking
 Pg 4.  BIOS continued
 Pg 5.  System Spec's and Benchmarks
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2002, Winbench 99
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi, PCMark2002
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, AquaMark3
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: UT2003 and Conclusions

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   12 / 19 / 2018 | 2:46AM
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