NVIDIA’s chipset evolution
First introduced nearly three years ago, NVIDIA’s original nForce chipset revolutionized the Athlon XP platform thanks to its dazzling array of features: Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, GeForce2 MX integrated graphics, and an innovative dual-channel DDR memory subsystem that was years ahead of its time, all put NVIDIA’s nForce chipset squarely on the Socket A limelight. However, due to delays and high pricing (the chipset was initially only available with integrated graphics), nForce got off to a sluggish start, ultimately VIA’s KT333 and later KT400 chipsets overshadowed it.
NVIDIA struck back with a vengeance with nForce2. nForce2 offered more performance, new features, and support for newer technologies such as AGP 8X and DDR400 memory. Even today, nearly two years since nForce2 was originally announced, it’s still the chipset of choice for the Athlon XP, and is largely responsible for keeping AMD competitive with Intel while they were preparing their 64-bit processors for introduction.
nForce3 250Gb reference board
Note the single chip design
Much like the original nForce chipset, NVIDIA’s early 64-bit chipset efforts got off to a slow start with nForce3 150 and nForce3 Pro 150. The chipset lacked native Serial ATA support, relying instead on an external controller. In comparison, VIA’s K8T800 was more feature-rich and offered better performance, making it the early favorite among Athlon 64 users.
Now NVIDIA is back again with its follow-up to nForce3 150, dubbed nForce3 250. Whereas nForce3 was originally intended to compete in the workstation segment with nForce3 Pro 150, and eventually adapted to serve the needs of the consumer in nForce3 150, NVIDIA’s nForce3 250 merges the needs of the workstation segment (where features and performance often take a back seat to stability and reliability) with the speed and eye-catching features consumers want to see in a motherboard.
As its name implies, nForce3 250 builds on the roots of nForce3 150, but NVIDIA has incorporated many design changes and new features. The result is a product that is intended to restore NVIDIA’s position as the leader on AMD’s 64-bit platform. We’re here today to go over all the changes and provide a picture of the new platform’s performance. Does nForce3 follow nForce2’s lead of delivering a new scale beyond its predecessor? Read on to find out!