AMDZone :: nForce 4 Ultra. As Brad points out the Jetway is not really available. Newegg is stocked out, so what’s a good alternative. There are a couple of choices, first most folks like the nForce4 motherboards, nVidia has done a nice job if you are buying AMD.
But then there are three levels of nForce, just to confuse you, the vanilla nForce4, then the nForce4 Ultra which adds a hardware Athlon 64 FX, firewall and 3GB SATA drive support (frankly, I’m not really sure who needs that since the hardware doesn’t really to performance).
Finally there is the nForce4 SLI which lets you slam two graphics cards into one. For most folks, the vanilla nForce4 is just $10 less than the nForce4 Ultra while the SLIs are about $50 more. So I’d say the Ultra is probably the right choice for budget folks and SLI for those who dream of multiple cards in a machine.
There is less difference between boards than on Intel machines because of the onboard memory controller, so most boards differ by 1-2% at most. Still there are differences. “Anandtech”:http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2465 has done a good roundup that I’ll summarize:
h3. Budget “Chaintech VNF4 Ultra”:http://www.overclockercafe.com/Reviews/mobos/Chaintech_VNF4_Ultra/
Chaintech makes great budget boards and I actually have one of their 754 motherboards for my low end machine. It is $85 from Newegg. It has a slightly wierd placement on Northbridge that makes it tricky to put a really big video card in, but otherwise it is quite fast. Also, you should use the stock AMD fan since the board is quite tight. Finally, the power socket is not so great.
h3. Overclockers “DFI LanParty UT nF4 Ultra D”:http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2337&p=11
This is pretty much the standard by which other boards get judged. Very fast and very tweakable. It can really overclock. Some folks have gotten it to go from the stock 200MHz as high as 350MHz and still remain stable. That means the board design is just outstanding.
Most boards are within 5% of it in terms of performance, lathough a second choice is the Epox 9NPA+ Ultra which is a little hard to find but just $110 from “pricegrabber”.
More expensive though at $135 at “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813136152, you get what you pay for. Personally, I’d spen the extra $40 to get a reliable board.
There are lots of other reviews from “neoseekers”:http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/dfinf4ultralp/, “hardcoreware.net”:http://www.hardcoreware.net/reviews/review-273-11.htm, “cluboverclocker”:http://www.cluboverclocker.com/reviews/motherboards/dfi/dfiultraD/, “insanetech”:http://www.insanetek.com/index.php?page=dfilanpartyutnf4ultra-d_1, “xtremeresources.com”:http://www.xtremeresources.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=52
h3. Ferrari Lovers “SLI”:http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2358
The SLI boards are for the true lovers of technology. Spent $1,000 on a pair of super fast cards and get unbelievable frame rates. These boards run $150 plus, but who cares 🙂
The choice by the way is easy, the DFI uses the same motherboard design for Ultra and SLI, so just go to the SLI if you want that. The other contender is the MSI K8N Neo4 SLI that “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813136157 has for $180 as well. This usually goes neck-and-neck with the DFI in performance.
Finally, the dark horse that “anandtech” loves is the Jetway. They are in and out of stock at but is very cheap at $129 at “Newegg”:”http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16813153030 so check often. The only danger here is that Jetway is so small, I don’t know what happens if BIOS breaks, etc. DFI for instance has a huge community at “DFI-street”:http://dfi-street.com as does MSI all over the place, so Jetway is a wonderful board, but beware that saving $50 might lead to more grief.