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About the Chipsets

I won’t say I was pleased at finding the ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe to be no good at CPU overclocking, but I wasn’t greatly disappointed, either. I must confess I had had preconceived notions about that mainboard and hadn’t placed much hope in it. I hadn’t doubted its overclockability. On the contrary, I was surprised to find it so poor at overclocking, but overclockability varies from sample to sample, so I might have dealt with not a very good one. The problem is in the price of the ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe mainboard which is currently about $170.

As you know, AMD’s processors can’t compete with overclocked Core 2 Duo processors in performance, but AMD must find a way to sell its produce. How could the company do that? Of course, there is always a small and noisy group of hardcore fans that will buy an AMD in any case, but you can’t rely on them on a large scale. Quite naturally, AMD is playing with the price factor and reducing the price of its processors, moving them down into the mainstream and low-end sectors. This was already done at the end of July and retail prices on AMD processors are rather close to the official ones now.

The price reduction is the only possible way for AMD today. It doesn’t mean that AMD will be languishing in poverty, feeding on crumbs from the table of Intel with its high-performance Core 2 Duo. Expensive processors are selling in hundreds of thousands, but low-end processors are selling in millions! Besides numerous office machines, many people buy low-end computers into their homes just because they don’t need a $1500 gaming station for such tasks as surfing the Web or processing text. From such users’ point of view, it is silly to save on the CPU yet purchase an expensive mainboard.

I wouldn’t say the ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe isn’t worth its price. The microphone alone would cost you over $40 if purchased separately. The mainboard has good accessories and extra controllers, too. But do you really need this in an entry-level computer? Do you need the option of uniting two graphics cards into a SLI subsystem if you are trying to save even on the single graphics card you have? Obviously, it is inexpensive mainboards that are going to enjoy the highest demand after AMD’s processors have stepped down into the mainstream and entry-level sectors of the market. I would even put my bet on the nForce 550, but I’m afraid mainboards on this chipset are going to be too poor in terms of overclocking.

Yes, features-rich mainboards on the Nvidia nForce 590 SLI chipset are necessary, too. There will surely be some people who would want to have everything with two top-end graphics cards and an Athlon FX into the bargain. But such systems won’t sell in large quantities. The Nvidia nForce 570 SLI seems to have good capabilities, but its market positioning isn’t clear to me. It is not as uncompromisingly luxurious as the nForce 590 and is not as cheap as the nForce 550. Who is it meant for, anyway?

The Nvidia nForce 570 Ultra is quite a different story. Its capabilities are not as weak as those of the nForce 550, but not as excessive as the nForce 590’s. I suspect that nForce 570 Ultra based mainboards are going to have the optimal (or nearly optimal) combination of functionality, overclocking options, and price for computers with AMD processors. Let’s now check out this suspicion (and if you are interested in comparative characteristics of ATI and Nvidia chipsets for AMD processors, refer to our article entitled Chipsets for Socket AM2 Platform: ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 and Nvidia nForce 590 SLI).

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