Over the past few months there has been a glut of nForce 2 motherboard reviews, as this is considered one of it not the fastest Athlon motherboard right now. The reviews that we here at Viperlair have done has left us pretty impressed with the feature set that nVidia has incorporated into the base nForce 2 motherboard design.
Additions such as onboard 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, Dual channel DDR memory, the ability to lock the AGP/PCI bus speed, and in most cases the ability to unlock the TBred chips multiplier's for higher FSB speeds. These all have made nForce 2 motherboards a hit with most users, from the overclocker to the OEM who are looking for integrated products with very nice specifications. Thus even if you get an integrated nForce 2 motherboard the quality is pretty good.
Leadtek, in reverse of companies such as MSI and Chanitech has moved from providing video cards only, to diversifying to motherboards as well. The first products that Leadtek released in the way of motherboards was based on the original nForce chipset. Apart from the nForce based chipset Leadtek has not made any other motherboards, such as for the Pentium IV or VIA or SIS based chipsets for the AMD Athlon platform.
As we know that the nForce 2 performs very well, so how well did Leadtek design this motherboard, can it prove itself better than other motherboards? Let us look at one of the few motherboards that Leadtek makes.
The WinFast K7nCR18D PRO
First lets look at the design of the board, to see if there is any distinguishing points in the design. Does it have a large software bundle or is it very colorful, like many of MSI's motherboards? Or does it come with a multitude of extra pieces with it? Lets see, and if you want to look at the specifications of this nForce 2 motherboard please .
So what do you get with this motherboard? Here is an itemized list.
- The motherboard
- Manual and Driver CD
- ACR Firewire (IEEE1394) card
- SPDIF output connector
- I/O back plate
- One Floppy connector, One ATA-133 IDE cable
The Motherboard - Continued
Upon first glance at this motherboard and the box, you would assume that it was just another ordinary motherboard. There is no coloring of the motherboards PCB which those with case windows will be disappointed by. The extra features that are included in the package are nice, but nothing to be extremely excited about with a SPDIF output connector for connecting the system directly to your Dolby Digital receiver, and a Firewire card, one that actually uses the almost unused ACR slot.
The 1/4/1 (AGP 8X/PCI/ACR) configuration is a little less than is usually expected out of a motherboard, but as was just mentioned the ACR slot is used for a Firewire card, removing (in my case at least) one PCI card from use in this system. However, why they didn't put another PCI slot in is unknown as there is room for it, or at least theoretically there is.
This leads to the memory slots and as is standard with all nForce 2 motherboards there is three slots in total, though when you want to use dual channel memory you have to use one of the top two DIMM slots and the bottom DIMM slot together. Another thing to notice in the above image is the location of the AGP slot in relation to the DIMM slots. Because Leadtek didn't add the 5th PCI slot there is more than adequate room to put a extremely long video card, such as the GeForce 4 Ti4600, while still being able to remove the memory without a problem.
Here we see the 'north' and 'south' bridges that Leadtek had chosen to use on this motherboard. Gladly Leadtek decided to use the MCP-T 'southbridge', instead of the less costly MCP, which doesn't have the integrated 5.1 audio from the nVidia chipset or the integrated firewire support offered by the chipset. The chipset itself was dated in the 42nd week of 2002, and is a A3 stepping of the chipset.
The SPP is cooled by a heatsink only, with no fan cooling the heatsink and making noise. The heatsink and the SPP have a good layer of thermal paste between them as can be seen in the above pictures. The heatsink is connected to the motherboard by means of two plastic push pins, not unlike that of many video card heatsinks.
The CPU socket area is the last physical area that we will consider. The CPU socket itself has a adequate amount of room around it, and more importantly you can notice the four mounting holes around the CPU socket, which means that heatsinks such as the Alpha PAL-8045T does fit though it comes very close to the . However the ATX power connector is in one of the worst places, right above the CPU socket and may be too close for some heatsinks, and even if it isn't the power cable still has to go over the CPU heatsink/fan.