The specs obviously are pretty impressive. As I've said before many times, I prefer boards without a lot of gizmo's attached to them, because usually they are just hacked through the PCI bus anyway. What nVidia has done, and DFI has taken advantage of is that just about every major toy is integrated into the chipset itself. That keeps things from being constricted by bandwidth.
As well, from an overclockers standpoint this is another benefit. It's been shown that many SATA solutions have clock lock issues, especially when RAID is thrown into the mix. By using the integrated SATA solution in the NF3-250Gb chip, instead of an external Silicon Image one, this problem is avoided.
It also allows for nVidia to offer an interesting RAID solution that allows combining of drives in an array across both the SATA and PATA buses. I don't see people using this for more than a "bunch of drives", but it's different nonetheless. The GB also stands for "gigabit ethernet", which from the looks of it is a massive improvement over the typical hack job done with this. Intel's CSA (communications streaming architecture) was the first, but nVidia looks to have equalled or bettered it. What this means is that instead of clogging up the entire PCI bus all to itself, and not being able to offer true full duplex performance, the controller itself is on the chipset, and has it's own bus to the PHYs chip on the motherboard (which supplies the port).
And kicked in there is nVidia's hardware firewall. While driver support for this feature isn't available in the current "Forceware" driver set (5.10), it will be in the next revision. By having specific hardware support, this allows for reducing CPU load when transferring files, and compared to a software firewall will be much faster as well. The question is just how effective it is. With how much attention nVidia is attempting to draw to their hardware acceleration of this firewall, we'd have to believe it's at the very least as effective as the one that comes with Windows, and likely more powerful. Now if only they'd give us back the Soundstorm Dolby Digital hardware accel again...
Speaking of that onboard audio, it's the typical deal here. A Realtek ALC850 AC'97 solution, with 8 channels and S/PDIF coax in/out. Nothing exciting compared to what's been available on nForce boards before, or the HD Audio making it's way onto the new Intel platforms. Or even really comparable to the VIA Envy solutions found on the Albatron K8X800 ProII or Chaintech ZNF3-250 for that matter. That said, it's still a quantum leap over the onboard audio solutions of two or three years ago.
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