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The results of the tests indicate that the MSI K8N Diamond is faster than the competing solutions on the nForce4 Ultra in a number of applications. The curious thing about it is the fact that these applications are also the ones where MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum based in the nForce3 Ultra is very fast. Two mainboards on different chipsets just can’t behave so similarly! So, we decided it is worth taking a closer look at this suspicious situation.

It was easy to find the explanation, actually: the MSI engineers just give a good fine-tuning to the memory controller integrated into the Athlon 64 processor. Optimizing auxiliary memory timings of the memory controller, mainboards from MSI can show higher performance than usual in some cases.

You can use the A64 Tweaker utility to see the difference in the memory controller settings on MSI mainboards and other makers’ mainboards. This useful utility can display and correct all the parameters of the Athlon 64 memory controller.


The memory controller settings on the MSI K8N Diamond


The memory controller settings on the EPoX 9NPA+ Ultra

Thus, high speed of MSI mainboards in certain applications can be very easily explained. It is possible due to the tweaking of the memory controller timings, which theoretically can be made on any mainboard for the Athlon 64. Note, though, that MSI’s optimization sometimes has an opposite effect: there are applications where MSI mainboards lose significantly to the competing solutions. So, it’s hard to say definitely if these optimizations are good or bad.

But now we can objectively compare the speed of the new PCI Express NVIDIA nForce4 chipset with the speed of the nForce3 Ultra as we have two MSI mainboards that identically configure the memory controllers. And the comparison shows that these two chipsets are really very close in their speeds.

 
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