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By: Carl Nelson [03.31.05]
Manufactured by: DFI 

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Back To The Hardcore

In the past few weeks, most of the motherboards we've been reviewing have been low-to-middle range boards, mostly based on the VIA PCI-E chipset for Socket 939 and PCI-E. People must be starting to wonder what is going on; what about the crazy boards for gamers and overclockers?

Here you go:

This is the Lanparty NF4 Ultra-D from DFI. What does the "D" stand for? I have absolutely no idea... But according the the box, the "UT" stands for "UV on, Tweak Fun!"

Okay.....

Perhaps the "D" stands for "Double", since two x16-sized PCI-E slots are included on board, supporting two PCI-E video cards. Don't be confused though; this is NOT an SLI board. For official SLI support, you'll need to look into the Lanparty UT NF4 SLI-DR. The SLI-DR is identical in every way, except that the chipset is the "SLI" version of the NF4, and therefore you get "official" SLI support.

I say "official" because some websites have "found out" that you can very easily modify the chipset to enable SLI. Word is that NVIDIA will be taking measures to prevent this in future drivers however (and if you know anything about SLI, you'll know how utterly important it is to have the latest drivers installed). Also, DFI obviously does not include the 'bridge' adapter to join the two video cards, so you're on your own there as well.

h4x0r3d SLI notwithstanding, having dual video cards is still a nice solution to have. VIA has been hyping this very feature in all their chipset promotion, and it looks like it will be found on future boards. It's also nice to see an x4 slot on there, although I don't know of any devices that make use of this. Keep in mind that it is impossible to get a full 16 lanes to each graphics slot...

Surrounding the two x16 slots and the x4 slot are a series of jumper blocks. Depending on where blocks of jumpers are installed will determine exactly how many lanes each PCI-E connecter gets. You may be able to figure out several configurations, but here are the two main types:

  • 16 lanes to the first graphics slot, 2 lanes to the second graphics slot, and 1 lane each to the x4 and x1 slots. This is the default configuration.
  • 8 lanes to the first graphics slot, 8 lanes to the second graphics slot, 4 lanes to the x4 slot, and disabling the x1 slot. This would be the preferred config for dual video card usage.

Price-wise, the Ultra-D ranges a bit in our search for the lowest price. ComputerHQ.com has it listed for $178, with shipping starting at $10. ZipZoomFly was a bit better, at $143 with free 2nd day shipping. Newegg.com had the lowest price of all however, at $139. They have shipping as low as $0.99 too, so they have the best price overall. This is right in line with other NF4 Ultra boards.

Now that we're familiar with the main nifty feature of this board, let's take a closer look at it:

Next Page: (Board Layout)