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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared 145

theraindog writes "Intel's Core 2 Duo is clearly the most attractive processor on the market, but which motherboard chipset is it best paired with? The Tech Report has rounded up four of the most common Core 2-compatible chipsets on the market to find out. The chipsets' features are compared and their performance is tested in a wide range of application, peripheral, and even power consumption tests. One emerges as a lemon, two as solid options, and the other as a clear winner." From the article: "Some fanboys still stubbornly cling to their favorite underdog, but most enthusiasts have seen the light and are looking at Core 2 for their next upgrade or system build. The prospect of a Core 2 system build can seem a bit daunting for enthusiasts who have spent years focused solely on the Athlon 64. Core 2 processors need new motherboards for those switching from the Athlon 64, and that requires navigating a whole new world of core logic chipsets. Since the Core 2 processor relies on the chipset for its memory controller, one's chipset choice can also have a much more profound impact on performance. "
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Core 2-Compatible Chipsets Compared

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  • by Aardpig ( 622459 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#16155495)

    From the article:I can't understand why Nvidia would drop a unique feature like hardware TCP/IP acceleration.

    Might I suggest it's because this acceleration has been found to cause serious data corruption on some NFORCE4-based AMD motherboards? I'm surprised the authors weren't aware of this problem.

    Myself, I'm wary of NFORCE4 for other reasons. I've recently found that my quad-core Opteron box, built on a Tyan S2895 (K8WE) mobo with an NFORCE4 chipset, will undergo spontaneous data corruption under Linux when I transfer large (>GB) files. I'm not the only one who's had this problem; looks like there's a bug in the NFORCE4 SATA controller. Caveat Emptor.

  • CONCLUSION (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:31PM (#16155496)
    Thanks for the 21 pages...Concusion:
    The landscape of Core 2-compatible chipsets is an interesting one. On one hand, you have tried and true chipsets like the 975X Express and nForce4 SLI X16 appearing on boards that have been updated to support Core 2 processors. These chipsets aren't new or particularly flashy, but they're proven designs that don't sacrifice performance when compared with the latest and greatest core logic.

    Of course, the Core 2 chipset market isn't all retro refits. Nvidia's nForce 570 SLI is new, at least in name. Unfortunately, the chip's features make it look more like a minor update to the aging nForce4 SLI than a legitimate member of the nForce 500 series. The discrepancies between the chipset's features and those offered by the nForce 570 SLI for AMD processors are striking, and for the life of me, I can't understand why Nvidia would drop a unique feature like hardware TCP/IP acceleration. Extra features have long been a tenet of nForce chipsets, and on that front, the 570 SLI comes up well short.

    Compounding the 570 SLI's disappointing feature set is comparatively high memory latency with two-DIMM configurations. This particular problem might be a quirk of the Asus P5NSLI motherboard we used for testing, but it's a retail board with a production BIOS--a board Nvidia itself provided for review.

    Intel P965 Express
    September, 2006

    Unlike the nForce 570 SLI, which feels like little more than an uninspired retread, Intel's P965 Express still has that new chipset smell. It also has a number of new features, including Fast Memory Access optimizations and additional south bridge Serial ATA RAID ports. The P965 also has relatively low power consumption, competitive performance, more robust Matrix RAID options, and evolving CrossFire support that should be complete by the end of the year. No wonder this chipset has proven so popular with motherboard manufacturers, who are building everything from budget $100 wonders to high-end enthusiast boards based on it.

    The Intel P965 Express chipset's mix of features, performance, and power consumption make it the perfect partner for Intel's new Core 2 processor and our Editor's Choice. Really, it's an easy call to make. The P965's upcoming CrossFire support kills the one reason we might have recommended the 975X. If SLI's your bag, the nForce4 SLI X16 is a solid--albeit power-hungry--option, but the more attractive nForce 590 SLI should be just around the corner. The nForce 570 SLI, meanwhile, doesn't even measure up to its own name, let alone to the P965
  • by hxnwix ( 652290 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:32PM (#16155504) Journal
    The core2 is fast in 32bit mode and certainly a step in the right direction for intel. Kudos to them, but fie on their 64 bit support. In deference to the Itanium, they think of it as existing to provide extended memory support, and only because AMD was flanking them. Two important factors drag down core2 64 bit performance: micro-ops fusion, which welds multiple trivial ops into a single macro op, works on 32 bit instructions only, and they support DMA on only memory addressable with a 32 bit pointer. The message from intel is clear: for 64 bit performance, buy an Itanium or an opteron.
  • by EconolineCrush ( 659729 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:38PM (#16155569)
    Nvidia fixed ActiveArmor's data corruption issues a while back. They haven't dropped TCP/IP acceleration from their entire chipset line, either, just the 570 SLI for Intel. The 590 SLI, 570 SLI for AMD, nForce4 SLI X16 for AMD and Intel, and others still support hardware GigE acceleration.
  • Re:Conclusion (Score:3, Informative)

    by EconolineCrush ( 659729 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @02:58PM (#16155730)
    Socket AM2 chipset comparison here: index.x?pg=1 []
  • RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by EconolineCrush ( 659729 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:06PM (#16155808)
    Two of the chipsets tested support SLI, the nForce 570 SLI and the nForce4 SLI X16. s/index.x?pg=10 [] Your precious P5N32-SLI SE is even tested in the article! So what was your problem again?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @03:11PM (#16155851)
    Criteria's plural. You want criterion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:00PM (#16156330)
    and make this argument mute in the near future

    You don't make arguments (or points) mute. You make them moot. []
  • G965 Reviews? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HRbnjR ( 12398 ) <> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:14PM (#16156451) Homepage
    I was dissapointed that this review didn't include any G965 reviews.

    If you want the new Linux XGL/AIGLX/Compiz functionality to work out of the box with no binary drivers, a G965 board may very well be what you are looking for.

    The G965 chipset includes the new GMA X3000 graphics core, which is the only DX10 feature level graphics solution with FLOSS Linux drivers: []

    The new C2 stepping is rumoured to solve many of the performance problems of the first stepping, and although probably still not suitable for FPS gaming under Linux, other less demanding games and desktop users needs could be well met.
  • by HotBBQ ( 714130 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @05:06PM (#16156879)
    You won't find (m)any benchmarks showing drastic speed improvements moving from Intel to Athlon 64-bit architecture. If you look purely at how fast does this program X run on these two systems you aren't going to see much. As has been suggested, though, is that AMD systems have a better 64-bit design. The Intel design lacks a true 64-bit IOMMU. This means it cannot use DMA on anything higher than 32-bit address space. Not a big deal unless you have a gigantic amount of memory. The Intel design is closer to 32-bit with 64-bit capabilities, where as the Athlon would be the reverse. Also, most benchmarks I've come across are for Windows apps, but Linux/Unix is where all the real 64-bit progress is being made. What is absent in the whole discussion is SunMicrosystems, which have been making 64-bit chips longer than Intel or Athlon.

    PDF on AMD IOMMU _papers_and_tech_docs/34434.pdf#search=%22IOMMU%22 []

  • Intel vs AMD Prices (Score:3, Informative)

    by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:22PM (#16157782)
    Here in the Netherlands, if you want to buy a processor for a DOY project, AMD is always cheaper, even if Intel says it's got AMD beaten. I can buy an X2 starting at 150,-, while the Intel already is at 220 minimum. That's 70 euro's that I'd rather spend in the bar or at a restaurant or three. Ok, it's much faster then the 3800 I got now, but I've still got a plenty fast dual core. It will probably beat any non-Intel Core 2 Duo out there. And it's a bit like David against Goliath as well. Intel isn't going away, so to have a healthy marketplace, we need AMD.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"