Chipset: nForce3 250Gb Review :: Introduction

04-18-2004 · Category: Hardware - Chipset

By Benjamin Sun

NVIDIA has been known for making kick ass video cards for almost 10 years now. While there has been some controversy about the NV30 (Geforce FX 5200/5500/5600/5700/5800/5900/5950) and benchmarks like Unreal Tournament 2003 and 3DMark 2003, the history of their cards has been a good one for the most part. But a couple of years ago NVIDIA decided to stray away from doing video cards.

The year 2000 saw the introduction of NVIDIA entering the console business with the Xbox. Along with the graphics portion of the Xbox, NVIDIA provided the motherboard, which included the North Bridge and South Bridge chips, the memory controller and other components that a chipset for a computer require. When the Xbox was introduced to the market in the fall of 2001, it marked the first time that a console used PC components in a significant way.

The fall of 2001 saw the introduction of NVIDIA into the chipset market with the first generation nForce boards. The nForce1 was a rather interesting chipset seeing much success in the market place. Late 2002 saw the release of the successor to the nForce, the nForce2. With this chipset, NVIDIA really came into its own as a chipset manufacturer. The vast majority of AMD Athlon XP motherboards sold today and in the past year or so have been based upon this chipset.

September 2003 saw the introduction of the first AMD Athlon 64 CPU. With this launch NVIDIA released the nForce3 150 chipset. Compared to the competition, the Via K8T800, the nForce3 150 had slightly lower performance and no native support for Serial ATA and Gigabit Ethernet. As a consequence of this, most people buying into the Athlon 64 platform have Via K8T800 boards.

NVIDIA first announced the nForce3 250 in early January of 2004. While a lot of hubbub has been made on the chip, boards are only now starting to hit retail. NVIDIA kindly provided us with a reference platform for the tests of this new chipset, and I will also be running benchmarks with our standard test rig to show performance of the board versus a nForce3 150.