DFI LanParty NF2 Ultra B

When the DFI LanParty product series was released, a lot of people were intrigued by it because it was the first motherboard to be specifically marketed towards gamers and enthusiasts. DFI exploited the fact that many gamers own cases with side windows by including UV reactive parts that glow when lit properly. The idea is to increase the general visual appeal of the motherboard in a LAN party environment. DFI’s latest Socket A iteration of the LanParty is the NFII Ultra B. It sports many extras and interesting features that sets it apart from its Infinity sibling and other motherboards in general.

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Click to enlarge.

Quick Specs

DFI LanParty NF2 Ultra B


nVIDIA nForce 2 Ultra 400


nVIDIA nForce 2 MCP-T




DDR 400

Memory Slots


Memory Capacity



4x SATA, 2x ATA133


nVIDIA SoundStorm

Analog Audio Connectivity

(5) Front, Rear, Line-in, Mic, Subwoofer

Digital Audio Connectivity

Coax SPDIF-out
Coax SPDIF-in


nVIDIA MAC 10/100
Realtek 10/100/1000

USB 2.0

8 ports

Firewire IEEE1394

3 ports

Packaging & Contents

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The DFI LanParty NFII Ultra B comes in a large box that holds many goodies inside. Admittedly, I never really followed this product with much interest, so I was pleasantly surprised with the “extras” included. In addition to the “typical” motherboard accessories (i.e. SATA cables), there are:

  • Rounded UV-Reactive IDE cables (18″)
  • Rounded floppy cable (20″)
  • FrontX port replicator
  • Computer case carrying strap (“PC Transpo”)
  • White thermal paste
  • “LanParty” logo case badge and decal/bumper sticker
  • Extra “long handle” jumpers
  • WinCinema CD (WinDVD, WinRip)
  • Manuals & drivers

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The 18″ rounded IDE cables are a nice touch. They’re long enough to reach those CDRom cases and have the pull tabs on them to make uninstalling easier (cheap rounded cables sometimes don’t have these).

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The FrontX port replicator.

The FrontX port replicator is a great addition if you don’t already have something similar bundled into your case or in your drive bay. With FrontX, you can have two stereo jacks, the diagnostic LEDs, two USB ports, and one Firewire port easily accessible/visible on the front of your case. FrontX may have questionable benefits for many gamers. Many enthusiasts already have nice cases that have port replication on the front bezel. Also the beige color will likely clash with your case color which means you probably paint it or leave it out. What would have made this accessory more useful would be to have included multiple colored FrontX bezels (Black, Silver, and Beige), case/CPU thermometer, fan rheostat, and/or a fan tachometer. But even with these improvements, the targetted gamer/enthusiast may not even use it.

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To help you bring your computer to the local gaming event, a carrying strap is a welcome addition. Just wrap this around your case and you got a handle to which to carry it easily. It even has a pouch in which you can put your mouse or a can of Mountain Dew. If you already have a carrying strap, having a second one would make life easier since you can now strap two handles onto the box which makes for easier transportation than just a single handle. The strap can carry a computer about 60″ in girth. Even if you don’t have any use for the carrying strap, there are plenty non-computer uses for it like helping move boxes of beverage to a barbeque (and be the geek of the party ;). Keep the carrying strap in the back of your car and I think you’ll be surprised where it can come in handy (or not :).

The User’s Guide wasn’t much of a guide at all. All that was inside were diagrams of the motherboard with jumper and pin settings. There was no information on troubleshooting, installation, or BIOS information. Strangely enough, the CD that was included with the board had a much better manual on it (complete with installation and BIOS notes). This manual isn’t for the beginner as there is no detailed information in the manual whatsoever. Honestly, this isn’t so bad since most enthusiasts know how to configure their own machine and this booklet is a good reference for jumpers and pins.

The Quick Installation Guide is more of what you would associate with a “beginner’s” manual. It shows you how to install the motherboard, Front-X, and quickly goes over the BIOS in six paragraphs. The guide is very brief and sufficient. As a humourous side-note, the Quick Installation Guide states “Do not force the CPU into the socket” and ironically the next picture shows an anonymous hand cramming an Intel Pentium 4 into the AMD socket as part of the normal installation procedure.

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“Warning: Forcing the wrong CPU into the wrong socket type
after warning users not to bend the pins increases occurance of irony.”

There’s not much on the software side of things. Unlike videocards that come crammed with all sorts of games, demos, and utilities, this motherboard comes with a copy of InterVideo WinCinema CD (WinDVD and WinRip) and some miscellaneous utilities on the driver CD.

The driver CD comes with a copy of the chipset drivers, audio and LAN drivers. RadarSync is a tool on the driver CD allows you to automatically download and update your DFI drivers. The program notified me that an update was available and gave me the option to download and/or install it. SmartDoctor is a hardware monitoring tool that displays system temperatures and fan RPMs and you can set alarms to notify you when things are out of spec.

Design & Layout

The LanParty NFII Ultra B is identical to the layout and design of the Infinity NFII Ultra, so it has the same inherit strengths and weaknesses.

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There are some nice features about this board. There is a 12v power header to help provide a more stable voltage to the CPU and helps with overclocking. Four heatsink mounting holes are included for those of you using the appropriate heatsink or waterblock. This sort of mounting is preferable to using the clip in the situation of a LAN party since mounting using the 4 holes is more secure and not prone to slipping or breaking during transportation.

The AGP slot and the first PCI slot are separated by a gap. This allows you to host a videocard with a larger cooler without losing any PCI functionality. This is a nice design decision for a gamer since many of you would like to keep the hot card away from your other peripherals, or add on some extra cooling (if it doesn’t come with it already).

In contrast to the Infinity board, the LanParty comes with diagnostic LEDs on the motherboard, a buzzer to beep errors, and power/reset switches so you can power-up and down the motherboard without having to attach the front panel switches. A CMOS reset switch would have been nicer though.

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Power-on or reset your LanParty NF2 Ultra B
connecting the front panel.

Despite these nice features, the board has a few design concerns which you should be aware of. First and foremost are the proximity of the capacitors to the CPU socket. Larger heatsinks may have a problem clearing them which either means you need to buy another cooler or modify your old heatsink to fit. My Thermalright AX-7 barely fits and is really hard to install properly because there’s no wiggle room at all.

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This Thermalright AX-7 is much too close to those capacitors.

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Zif socket gap may cause cooling problems.

The socket is also too close to the top-edge of the motherboard which can be a problem for those of you with smaller cases and CPU fans greater than 80mm. When a 92mm fan is installed, it may not fit because of the ATX power supply. With a 80mm fan, it sits just flush to the edge of the motherboard which may mean a snug fit for some of you. Like the Infinity, the Zif socket is also crooked and not flush to the PCB which may cause some cooling problems. I personally had no problems, but it may be a concern for some of you.

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12V power too close to the AGP slot.

The 12v and ATX power headers are poorly laid out. For the 12v, there is a capacitor next to it which makes removing the cable difficult. Also, it is very close to the AGP slot which can cause problems if your video cooler is large. The ATX power header is next to the CPU fan header. This is particularly troublesome when removing the ATX power cable – you first have to remove the CPU fan wires and also make sure that you don’t bend a capacitor in the process.

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The CMOS jumper is in an unfortunate position. It’s inline with a PCI slot which means it can be blocked off if you use that slot. DFI should have made it easier to access the CMOS jumper by placing it closer to the CMOS chip and the front panel pins. For a motherboard marketed towards enthusiasts, some forethought would have been nice in this department as tweakers are often resetting their CMOS. So if you plan to do some tweaking, keep PCI-1 slot clear of long cards.

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The CMOS jumper is blocked by this PCI card.

It’s obvious that DFI needs some work in making this board a little bit easier to work with. The above issues aren’t so bad if it were a traditional consumer model, but since it’s targeted at gamers and enthusiasts, fixing these concerns would make the board even better.

Motherboard Features

There are a lot of features on the DFI LanParty NFII Ultra B, so let’s start with a look at the backpanel. Here we can see that there is a full-set of features. There is support for your legacy peripherals (PS2 keyboard and mouse ports, serial and parallel ports) and four USB 2.0 ports. There also are 5 audio jacks which allows you the greatest flexibility when using speakers and a headset with a microphone. Not only does it have SPDIF-out so you can wire it to your speaker system / receiver, it also has SPDIF-in which is handy for those times you want digital sound from an external source pumping through your computer speakers. There are dual LAN jacks: one for 10/100MB and the other for 10/100/1000MB.

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Onboard, there is a Silicon Image 3114C SATA controller for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 0+1 (mirrored stripe) operation. If you’re looking for RAID for IDE drives, you are out of luck as most motherboard manufacturers are moving away from IDE RAID.

There is support for 3 Firewire/IEE1394 ports which can be used via the 2-port IEE1394 bracket and the bundled FrontX accessory. Unlike other manufacturers, DFI included 8 USB connections on the LanParty which is 2 better than the typical 6 connections. The LanParty also supports nVIDIA SoundStorm which is the best sounding on-board audio solution currently on the market (in my humble opinion of course). There are 4 diagnostic LEDs which can be replicated via the FrontX extension. Interesting to note that these 4-LEDs are standard on the LanParty but not on the Infinity.

Lastly, let’s not forget that this motherboard glows when bathed in ultra-violet rays. Of course you need a side-window and a UV source to get this baby to dance.

Bios Features

The BIOS on the LanParty NFII Ultra B features a lot of options for the overclock and tweaker. In the Advanced Chipset options give you a wide range of RAM tweaks and frequency settings (up to 300MHz in 1MHz increments). There are voltage adjustments fro the CPU, memory, AGP, and the chipset. The maximum voltage isn’t as high as you would find on some other motherboard (like the EPoX EP-8RDA3+ for example) but it is still better than others (i.e. LanParty CPU voltage goes up to 2.00V).

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You can also make backups of your BIOS confgurations into one of four CMOS backups in the “CMOS Reloaded” section. This is really handy while you are experimenting with different settings and run into an unstable confguration (just reload and go!). The backups stay even after clearing the CMOS and pulling the CMOS battery which is helpful.

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Other BIOS features include an alarm clock that can wake the motherboard at a predetermined alarm you set. This is useful in many situations where you want your computer to boot unattended and on a schedule. Another “neat” thing about the BIOS is that you can have the PC health status print out during POST. It flashes by really quickly, but the information is handy if you want to know how hot your PC is before loading your OS.

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One complaint I have about the BIOS is that none of it is documented anywhere in the package. The only source of information is on the CDROM which doesn’t help you when you’re staring at the BIOS screen. I strongly suggest you print out relevant parts of the online manual and keep it as a reference. I hope DFI improves on their documentation in the future.

Warranty & Support

There is no information about warranty or support documented anywhere in the package. Contact and support information can be found on their website, but it would have been helpful to have had this printed in the manual.

As for warranty, this information is hard to find as it is not written in any of the manuals or even linked on DFI’s website. I used Google and found old warranty information for Europe, but nothing for North America. Looking in our DFI forum, I found out that warranty is supplied by the vendor so the duration and coverage will vary. To what extent DFI will cover their products is unknown to me at this time.

The support network at DFI consists of a searchable knowledge base that has a good amount of information on common LanParty problems and their solutions. However if you’re looking for a more obscure solution, you will have to use 3rd party forums like our’s.

DFI BIOS Update (July 23, 2004):
I just found out that the beta BIOS that fixes some of these problems has officially been released! I know a lot of people have been waiting eagerly for this so please go to DFI’s website and download it there. Thanks to DFI for releasing this fix! Also visit our DFI forums to discuss this.

The following tale of my bad BIOS experience is now likely irrelevant, but still serves as a good example of what can go wrong with BIOS releases and the importance of being up to date on hardware community and support issues.

Tale of a Bad Bios

While doing my testing of this motherboard, I decided to update the BIOS from the one shipped to version 11/27/03 linked on DFI’s website. Upon flashing the BIOS I was introduced to a whole host of problems including non-detected IDE harddrives, hard and warm-boot problems, beep codes (not sure which ones since none of it is documented in a manual), no video, and/or video initialization freezing. I later learned that there are many other DFI LanParty owners who have experienced similar problems with the 11/27/03 BIOS. The images below show some of the wackiness I experienced while using this BIOS.

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Odd. I don’t recall having 7 IDE drives.

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11/27/03 BIOS only seems capable of using only one of two HDDs.
Hopefully fixed in the brand new official 06/23/04 BIOS.

There is a beta BIOS that appears to fix many of these problems, but I do not recommend using that unless you are familiar with experimenting and tweaking. I flashed back to the shipping BIOS (10/17/03 BIOS) and everything was fine (though the warm-boot problem still appears, but with less frequency).


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