After careful consideration I have decided to transfer all hardware review activities to a new domain. I purchased Hardwareasylum.com in 2012 and have been working hard to build a new and improved Ninjalane on that domain. If you are reading this you have reached one of the archived articles, news, projects and/or reviews that were left behind during the site migration.
We all have seen our fair share of nForce2 motherboards and just about every one of them follows a reference design spec. The processor is located in the middle directly above the Northbridge, memory and power are pushed together giving very little room to access memory modules with the video card installed. Things like this come standard but enable motherboard makers to get their products on the market quickly.
On the other hand the layout of the LanParty NFII Ultra Rev B is nearly to perfect for cooling and ease of use. The processor has been moved away from congestive cables, you can still remove memory modules without touching the video card, and the area below the AGP is open for double width heatsinks and/or watercooling setups. The majority of ribbon style cables are located high on the motherboard so air is free to flow.
One common complaint with the first LanParty NFII Ultra was the absense of heatsink mounting holes around the CPU socket. These holes, though not required by AMD, made it really easy to install large heatsinks and waterblocks so DFI brought them back. Since the equipment was handy I decided to try them out. The installation went ok though the area around the processor socket is littered with chips and resistors making it hard to install the mounting hardware without modifying some nylon washers, a minor annoyance. Another related issue is access to topmost mounting screw when larger heatsinks are installed.
Aside from a few minor annoyances the DFI LanParty NF2 Ultra is still a very solid motherboard that holds a lot of promise in extending the useable life of the AthlonXP. Overclocking controls are in place and are just begging to be used. Reports of 250-260 Mhz FSB overclocks are common with this board even though our max was only 235Mhz. I attribute this to the T-bred processor used in this review but at this point anything is possible.
I had the pleasure of meeting Oskar, the designer of the LanParty NFII Ultra Rev B, at Computex 2003. He is a very nice guy and full of useful information. Photo taken at Computex 2003 in Taipei
I think it is safe to say if you get a board from the LanParty series you can and will show it off, in more ways than one.
Now for my list of good things and bad things.
The Good Things
Great layout, open and airy
Excellent set of overclocking controls
Stable operation up to 200+ Mhz FSB
UV reactive expansion slots
Heatsink mounting holes onboard
Video card space under AGP slot
The Bad Things
Lots of chips around heatsink mounting holes
Different CMOS Reloaded operation from other DFI boards
Tight clearance around topmost mounting screw and CPU socket
Tons of overclocking features = longer overclock fiddle time.
I would like to thank DFI Inc. for helping to make this review possible.
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