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With all of that out of the way, it can officially be said that the NVIDIA nForce chipset is upon us!

Let’s analyze what we have seen in terms of benchmarks. It would appear that when using an external GeForce 3 video card, the nForce reference board and the competing KT266A chipset Shuttle AK31 Rev3 are about equal to each other in terms of benchmark performance. Each platform takes about half of the tests to their side, but the differences are merely negligible in most instances, making either choice a good one.

Of course, using the integrated video solution, the scores are much lower than the GeForce 3 ones. They are by no means bad, however, and this is a very important point to realize. For a user that simply isn’t going to demand the absolute best frame rate in a game or needs the power for design or a similar task, the integrated solution is a great option. In fact, for most 2D work, I would expect the GeForce2 to do better when coupled with the 100 MHz AGP 6X bus speed.

Did I mention that you get all kinds of extra features on the nForce chipset? The APU audio greatly exceeds any kind of AC’97 audio available with maybe the exception of the Iwill KK266Plus options. The on-board network card is an option that is only now becoming available on some KT266A chipset boards, but should be on almost all the nForce boards. If you still have dial-up Internet access, you could then take advantage of using the on-board modem instead.

One thing that still remains a mystery to me is the pricing structure of the nForce boards. While the 220 chipset boards will of course be lower cost than the 420 boards, by how much is still unknown. NVIDIA is still aiming for a price for the high-end boards to be under $150. If they can do that, the value of getting nearly a complete system for $150 is amazing for the cost-conscience consumer. Add a hard drive and a CD-ROM and you’re on your way!

As the boards are released, we will see yet another picture of the nForce versus KT266A battle, as they will be the top two chipsets for the AMD processors for quite a while I am sure. Whether the retail boards for the nForce can beat the options, availability and pricing of the KT266A boards, will make a huge impact on the market. The KT266A chipset isn’t going anywhere and is still as good a performer as the nForce in real world tests. As the manufacturers tweak and test both platforms, either one could come out on top. One thing is for sure though; it will be the owners of AMD processors that come out ahead either way.

Be sure to check out the AMD Forums for more information on this article and subject!!

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