It has been just a few weeks since nVidia launched their nForce4 chipset - their first chipset with PCI Express for Athlon 64. Rumors have abounded since that launch that the nForce 4 might be delayed due to issues with the 1000 Hyper Transport of the nF4 chipset. We had also been told by several manufacturers that companies like Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte - often called the Tier 1 manufacturers - would be the first to launch both nForce4 and the SLI version of nForce4 for dual nVidia video cards. This would be followed a few weeks later by nForce4 boards from smaller manufacturers.

While we have speculated as to who might be first to market with nForce4, we are pleased that this is no longer a mystery. Gigabyte is the first to get a production nForce4 board in our hands. The board itself arrived as a complete K8NXP-9 package, but the outside packaging was not ready when Gigabyte shipped the board to us from Taiwan. Other than the outside package and a limited early BIOS, the board is a production board.

We couldn't wait to run the production K8NXP-9 through our benchmarks, so we decided to do a "First Look" to bring you the news as fast as possible. We were also very interested in testing the performance and stability of the Gigabyte nForce4 compared to the nF4 Reference board. Our review of the earlier Gigabyte K8NSNXP-939, based on the nForce3 Ultra, did not find it to be one of the top boards in our Socket 939 Roundup: Battle at the Top. Have things improved? There have also been many end users who have reported issues with memory on the earlier Gigabyte nF3 Ultra board, so we wanted to see if that area had also improved in the nForce4 update.

Basic Features
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  • wohlgek - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    Does anyone know when these boards will be available? Also, on Gigabyte's website, they show the board as compatable with only CPU's with the 130 nm process. What about the Winchester core? Is it safe to assume that all you would need is a bios update to use the Winchester core over the Newcastle? (Sorry if it is a newb question). Reply
  • Marcosoft - Thursday, December 23, 2004 - link

    I just bought this card and i'm having troubles to make it work.

    I have a 20-pin plug so i leaved the 4 pins out !
    So far, i shouldn't have any problems ?

    But do i need to plug at least a ATX_12V next to the CPU ?
    Reply
  • Filibuster - Saturday, December 04, 2004 - link

    When are these supposed to be available? Reply
  • TheDevil - Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - link

    God I pray to U to keep this boards pricing under 400$ (18.000 Rs) in the Excise ridden country of India :@ so I can promptly Buy it asap. Reply
  • peegee - Saturday, November 20, 2004 - link

    ONLY 4Gb - why??
    surely it could address 8Gb, as 2Gb chips are becoming more available.

    thats a deal breaker for me - I need 8Gb.
    Reply
  • flexy - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    >>>
    #37 - It has a 24-pin ATX with a plug for 4-pins so it can be used with standard 20-pin. It is shipped with the plug in place so there is no confusion with where the 20-pin goes. Pop out the plug with a fingernail and it is 24-pin.
    >>>

    Wesley,

    Question 1 : Are there any benefits in using the 24p method over the 20pin method ? The additional 4 pins provide power the for pci-e slot from what i know.

    If i leave the 4 pins out...isn't there any disadvantage - eg. less power provided to the pci-e card etc ?

    Was there a manual with the nforce 4 boards you tested where they mention anything in that matter and recomend 24p over 20p ? Or does it matter at all ?

    Question 2:
    does that board have a pci-lock ??? Eg. i am shooting for pretty high 'FSB' (280, 290) and need a working pci-lock for SATA :)


    thanks !!
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #42 - Thanks for asking the question. Those values are in fact an error in the pre-release BIOS that have been corrected with a BIOS update. There are not any AGP voltage adjustments on the nF4 board.

    I have corrected the table of Features. I apologize for not catching that in the review.
    Reply
  • jcromano - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #40 Thank you very much for your answers. I felt at the time that my questions were probably pretty dumb, but I decided to ask anyway. And now, I'm going to risk yet another dumb question: Page 2 of the review ("Basic Features") has a table that says the AGP voltage can be set to normal or to several overvolted values. Why in the world would you need an AGP voltage if there's no AGP slot, and how would that voltage be delivered? (It is, in fact, that table that convinced me the long black slot must be an AGP slot and sent me looking elsewhere for the PCIe slots.) Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #37 - It has a 24-pin ATX with a plug for 4-pins so it can be used with standard 20-pin. It is shipped with the plug in place so there is no confusion with where the 20-pin goes. Pop out the plug with a fingernail and it is 24-pin.

    #39 - Our launch review of the nForce4 did a complete performance comparison with nF3 Ultra, so we saw no reason to repeat that information. There is basically no performance difference in the 2 chipsets. The review is at http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...

    nF4 is for PCIe and nF3 is for AGP. nF4 also adds a very few features like 3Gb/s SATA. There is also no current difference in performance between AGP and PCIe video cards - the same model yields the same performance - but that will likely change in the future.
    Reply
  • Gioron - Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - link

    #34:
    No, this board only has a PCI-E x16 slot for graphics card, no AGP slot. The long black slot just above the gold-colored chipset is the PCI-E x16 slot. The white slots to its left are the PCI slots, not the PCI-E slots. The PCI-E x1 slots are actually the rather short, black ones on the right side of the long PCI-E x16 slot. Note that all of these slots are positioned on the side of the board with the external motherboard connections, and are in front of slot covers that you can see in the back on both of the pictures. This is important for an expansion slot, so thats always the first place to look.

    The red and green slots you mention are actually the IDE sockets for either hard drives or CD/DVD drives. The black slot below them is for a floppy drive. The yellow sockets in the corner look like USB sockets, and at two ports per socket, that supplies all 6 of its non-paneled USB ports. The red sockets are SATA, although I wish they would've color coded them to indicate which are 3G/s and which are 1.5G/s.
    Reply

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