NVIDIA Corporation’s active and aggressive behavior in terms winning the market of chipsets for AMD processors is simply astonishing. Starting with their nForce2, a niche solution for PC enthusiasts, NVIDIA has been steadily accumulating strength and now controls over 50% of the Athlon 64 chipset market. That said, NVIDIA’s solutions are still intended for demanding users in the first place, while users of inexpensive mainboards and many system integrators still prefer chipsets from VIA and SiS, just because these Taiwanese companies are offering better value alternatives.
The ongoing transition to the PCI Express bus may change this state of things. While the Taiwanese manufacturers cannot yet begin mass shipments of PCI Express-supporting chipsets, NVIDIA remains the only mass provider of such solutions. Therefore even the makers of inexpensive mainboards have to start using chipsets from the nForce4 family.
There is actually a member of that family which is specifically designed for inexpensive systems. This chipset lacks some of the more advanced features typical of the nForce4 Ultra/SLI, is devoid of the hardware network protection system called ActiveArmor and does not support the Serial ATA II interface. Some mainboard manufacturers consider this too big a loss, however, and try to create something with the full nForce4 Ultra functionality on the one hand, but at a modest price on the other. Today we are going to take a closer look at an example of such a product combining high functionality with lower price.
Chaintech is one of the companies, who attempted to put the idea into life: this is how VNF4 Ultra VE mainboard was actually born. This model belongs to the Zenith series which is another way of saying “for enthusiasts”, but the VE suffix is fleshed out as “Value Edition” and this makes us regard this product a little differently. So, we’ve got a product for economical enthusiasts, and this alone should have attracted our interest. In this article we will try to administer an unprejudiced judgment to this mainboard. We will do our best to answer objectively the following questions: is it really any good for an overclocker and did it suffer greatly because of the fact that it is actually an inexpensive product?