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.
Traditionally one of the major differences between AMD from Intel in terms of processors is the chipset requirements and the location of the memory controller. On the Intel side you typically have a 2 main chips the Northbridge and Southbridge, the Northbridge controls direct interaction between the video card system memory while the Southbridge has it pretty easy and only has to deal with expansion cards and data transfer devices.
Since the memory controller is located on in the Northbridge you can get varied levels of performance from one chipset maker to another. However on the AMD side things are a little different, the memory controller is included with the processor so chipset and motherboard design have little effect on overall processor and memory performance and chipset features start to remain somewhat static from one series to another. For instance the current nForce 5 MCP is actually very similar to the previous nForce 4 with a few minor enhancements.
In this review we will be looking at one of the mainstream motherboards from Foxconn called the Winfast N570SM2AA, This is a nVidia nForce 5 series motherboard featuring the 570 SLI chipset. PCI Express is still a very new technology that has been embraced by video card and chipset mfgs for its superior two way bandwidth and flexibility in configuration. Its for this reason that SLI is possible.
Whenever possible we'd recommend getting the SLI edition of any nVidia motherboard even if you only plan to use a single video card. The reason behind this is in regards to flexibility in expansion, one week you might be running a single 7600GT, and a couple weeks later you can add another 7600GT and link them together for even greater performance.
The foxconn N570SM2AA features a typical nForce layout; the memory banks are located along the right side near the main power connector. The nForce MCP is nestled between the two 16x PCIe card slots which does position the chip out of the way but also limits aftermarket cooling options such as watercooling or enhanced aircooling. The back of the motherboard is pretty typical although instead of a plastic back plate Foxconn opted for an OEM style metal version.
The AM2 socket features 940 pins however unlike the Opteron is configured for use with DDR2, While performance might be slightly higher you won't see any significant performance gains until the clock frequencies begin to ramp up.
One of the new and exciting features found on the N57SM2AA is a Digital PWM (Digital Pulse Width Modulation) power supply that replaces the traditional mosfet based power supply with tiny digital drivers and a passive heatsink. The result is a very cool running power solution that not only frees up a ton of extra spaces on the motherboard but also delivers stable and accurate power to the processor and supporting components. This appears to be the "in" thing these says so expect to see a lot more from the Digital PWM.
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