$110 for a new motherboard is certainly not bad! Especially a new one from Gigabyte. Riding on the success of the NVIDIA nForce2 chipset, NVIDIA has teamed up with Gigabyte to ready themselves for the demands of the world with the nForce3 chipset and you can get your first taste from this review at Legion Hardware.
The nForce2 series was a great success for NVIDIA and they have continued to gain momentum with the nForce3 chipset. The latest addition to the nForce3 clan is the “Ultra” version featuring support for 939-pin processors. This chipset has a number of impressive features that are not necessarily found on all motherboards. Currently the only other serious competitor in this market segment is VIA and they have also had great success with the AMD64 platform. VIA was the first to present a viable AMD64 solution in the form of the K8T800 chipset.
The NVIDIA nForce3 Ultra chipset is difficult to label for a certain category or market segment as it can be easily adapted for a number of applications. For example, when using a 939-pin connector it is essentially a “Desktop Performance Chipset”, designed to offer the enthusiast the highest level of performance. As a result of using the 939-pin connector, this chipset will support Athlon 64 processors with a 128-bit Dual-Channel DDR memory controller that is integrated directly into the processor. However, it is also a Server/Workstation based chipset when coupled with a 940-pin connection. It will now support either single or dual Opteron processors, with a 128-bit Dual-Channel DDR memory controller that is also integrated directly into the processor.
Due to the memory controller being integrated into the processor, there is less the chipset can offer performance wise. In the past chipsets such as the nFoce2 and KT600 have been alienated by their memory controllers. For this reason I have been seeing very little variance in performance with AMD64 chipsets. If performance has been removed from the scene as a deciding factor for which motherboard a particular user should purchase, what should we base our decision on? Value and features of course, these factors should be considered when purchasing a motherboard of any kind.