With the DFI LAN Party nForce4 SLI and Ultra models being incredibly well respected for their phenomenal memory tweaking and overclocking abilities, we were ecstatic to have our hand at overclocking the DFI Infinity nForce4 Ultra. Using a AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (complete system specifications listed below) we were able to run the DFI motherboard stable with a 267MHz FSB, which resulted in the processor running at 2403MHz (267MHz x 9). In addition, the memory was running at a 1:1 ratio that allowed the 2 x 1024MB DDR modules to run at DDR-534 speeds and timings of 2.5-4-4-8 1T. In order to reach this overclock, the processor was run at 1.550V, RAM at 3.10V, and Chipset at 1.70V. Pushing this specific processor any further would result in stability issues as well as memory errors as reported by memtest86+ v1.65. We have also pushed other 3000+ Venice cores with the same motherboard up to a 285MHz FSB before having to lower the multiplier; however, with our standard test components 267MHz was the stable limit. Onto the next area, we generally cover in the motherboard overclocking section -- LM_Sensors. Using LM_Sensors v2.9.2 the sensor adapters detected were it8712-isa-0290, eeprom-i2c-0-51, eeprom-i2c-0-50, and ds1621-i2c-1-4e. The ITE IT8712 sensor reported all of the various voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. However, we did note that the VCore 2, +3.3V, +5V, -12V, -5V, and motherboard temperature were reporting incorrect values. However, the main CPU temperature, +12V rail, and all of the fans were reporting accurate numbers. Even with these few incorrect readings, the DFI Infinity nForce4 Ultra is one of the best motherboards we have found with recognition by LM_Sensors v2.9.2. In fact, many of the last AMD nForce4 motherboards to come through our facilities have offered no present Linux hardware sensors support.
With the DFI Infinity NF4 Ultra seeking to capture the budget market, which is evident from its bland PCB to the lackluster product packaging, for this review we compared the motherboard against the Albatron K8SLI and ASRock 939Dual-SATA2. All three of these motherboards are considered for the budget-minded enthusiast, and generally sell for $100 USD or less. In addition, both are similar in their main features although the K8SLI utilizes NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI MCP and the 939Dual-SATA2 uses the ULI M1695 + M1567. In addition to a direct comparison of these Socket 939 motherboards, we also ran a second set of tests with the Infinity nForce4 Ultra as it was running at its overclocking speeds of 2403 MHz (267MHz x 9) and DDR-534 @ 2.5-4-4-8 1T.
|Processor:||AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (Winchester)|
|Motherboard:||DFI Infinity NF4 Ultra (nForce4 Ultra)
ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 (ULI M1695)
Albatron K8SLI (nForce4 SLI)
|Memory:||2 x 1GB OCZ PC-4000|
|Graphics Card:||eVGA GeForce 6800GT 256MB|
|Hard Drives:||Seagate 200GB SATA|
|Optical Drives:||Lite-On 16x DVD-ROM|
|Power Supply:||SinTek 500SLI 500W|
|Operating System:||Fedora Core 4|
|Linux Kernel:||2.6.15-1.1831_FC4 (x86_64)|
|GCC - GNU Compiler:||4.0.0|
|Graphics Driver:||NVIDIA 1.0-8178|
Prior to the actual benchmarks, we first did our usual arsenal of examinations and had begun with looking at its Linux compatibility. With some of the previous DFI motherboards we had tested at our facilities quite a while ago, from the LAN Party UT i915 to the first run of the LAN Party nForce4 products, we had experienced a couple issues relating to its 2.6 kernel compatibility. Fortunately, the Infinity series motherboard had not possessed these negative traits. However, we did experience one peculiar problem with the nForce4 Ultra Infinity and that was its integrated audio support. Using ALSA v1.0.10, the audio device was not properly recognized and failed to output any audio within Linux. Other than the audio problem, there were no other prominent flaws with its Linux support when using Fedora Core 4. In addition, the ITE IT8712 Super I/O controller was properly recognized using LM_Sensors v2.9.2 and reporting appropriate values for all of its various readings (as was mentioned in the overclocking section of this article). For benchmarking these various motherboard configurations, our usual platter of Linux tests were called in, which consists of Enemy Territory, Doom 3, Quake 4, SPECViewPerf, HDparm, diskWriggler, Gzip Compression, LAME Compilation, LAME Encoding, BlueSailSoftware Opstone Sparse-Vector Scalar Product, BlueSailSoftware Opstone Singular Value Decomposition, and FreeBench. All three motherboards followed our same Phoronix testing guidelines and standards. Without further ado, on the following pages are our long awaited DFI Infinity Linux results.