While the year may have changed to 2002, NVIDIA’s nForce2 launch almost eerily reminds us of the events that occurred a year ago. If you recall back to summer of last year, NVIDIA made a huge splash with its nForce announcement during Computex in Taiwan. nForce was such a revolutionary product that it literally stole the show. Not only did NVIDIA fuse a compelling graphics core to its chipset, they also broke all the rules when it came to integrated audio by incorporating Dolby Digital support. And not only was nForce capable of playing back Dolby Digital streams, it was also the only audio solution on the market capable of Dolby Digital encoding, a distinction it holds to this day. To top it off, NVIDIA included its DASP and TwinBank memory architecture, further improving chipset performance.
nForce was such a groundbreaking product that executives from Intel were literally fending off questions on why they hadn’t granted NVIDIA a Pentium 4 license to make nForce-based products for their processors. AMD had quite a coup on their hands.
By now we all know how the story ultimately played out. Motherboards based on the nForce chipset didn’t hit retail shelves until early winter, and even then from only a handful of motherboard manufacturers. NVIDIA proclaimed they had learned their lessons with nForce and wouldn’t make the same mistakes with nForce2, yet here we are in December and motherboards have only been available for just under a month and even then, from a limited number of manufacturers. But now that nForce2 is here, lets take a look at what NVIDIA’s latest platform processor (their word for chipset) brings to the table, specifically in the form of the ASUS A7N8X Deluxe.
The ASUS Experience
Over the course of the past few years, ASUS has established a reputation for delivering stable products that also offer a degree of performance. Sure, we occasionally hear about a bad motherboard or a malfunctioning optical drive, but for the most part, ASUS has set a high standard for itself, which we look for when reviewing its products.
A few of these ASUS specific features have found their way on to the A7N8X Deluxe. The attribute you’ll likely appreciate most is ASUS’ Q-Fan technology. Q-Fan constantly monitors system load an adjusts the fan speeds in your system accordingly. As your system comes under load and the temperatures increase, Q-Fan kicks the fan RPMs up a notch. Once the activity decreases, Q-Fan will slow things down a bit, decreasing the noise level of your PC. This ensures that your system temperature is kept in check as well as noise level. Those of you with noisy PCs will probably appreciate this feature.
ASUS’ C.O.P (CPU overheating protection) technology also makes its way to the A7N8X. As its name implies, C.O.P. protects your CPU from overheating. If the CPU’s temperature reaches a dangerous level, C.O.P. shuts the system down to prevent any permanent damage to the CPU.