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Since I haven't seen many comments about nForce2 boards on here, I thought I'd post a short message... I just upgraded one of my PCs to a nForce2 board (Epox 8RDA+) and a Athlon XP 1800+ Thoroughbred. Previous system was a KT333 board (Epox 8K3A). Some comments...


1) The new Tbreds are nice - they act as factory-unlocked on the nForce2 boards (see the nForce2 roundup at http://www.anandtech.com ). I can even run my 1800+ (1533MHz) at 9 x 200 MHz (1800MHz), although my memory isn't 100% stable at 400MHz DDR...


2) The Epox board is nice for overclocking - lots of features in the BIOS. Comes with IEEE1394 and USB 2.0, and has the nForce DD5.1 encoding (i.e., Soundstorm audio) w/ 6-channel analog out. However, it doesn't include a SPDIF cable (I will probably take the one from my MSI K7N-420 Pro when the time comes). The price is pretty good though (especially compared to the Asus A7N8X).


To sum it up, nForce 2 is basically a nice upgraded version of the original. Very stable, and lots of nice features (audio, USB2.0/IEEE1394, LAN) all built-in. Coupled with a Tbred Athlon, you can even get 333MHz FSB or higher with the current chips. For those considering a Athlon HTPC, definitely check it out.


(BTW, the Tbred 1700+/1800+ run at 1.5V, and the 2400+ runs at 1.65V I believe. So, power consumption is a lot lower on the new chips - thus cooling requirements should be more reasonable... no more complaints vs. P4 systems).
 

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What is your opinion, in general, of an Athlon based HTPC?


In the interest of reliability I was planning on going Intel, but boy do those prices turn me off...........I have an Athlon machine as my everyday PC right now and Ive never had any trouble with it. Seeing comments like this about the nForce2 makes me want to just throw down cash and buy an nForce2 and a *very* inexpensive Athlon CPU.


Do you use yours as your HTPC?


-Chris
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by chrisexv6
What is your opinion, in general, of an Athlon based HTPC?


In the interest of reliability I was planning on going Intel, but boy do those prices turn me off...........I have an Athlon machine as my everyday PC right now and Ive never had any trouble with it. Seeing comments like this about the nForce2 makes me want to just throw down cash and buy an nForce2 and a *very* inexpensive Athlon CPU.


Do you use yours as your HTPC?


-Chris
I use mine as an HTPC. I've got an 1800+. It runs for weeks at a time.


When it's not being used as an HTPC, I'm often doing lots of video work, which takes quite a heavy toll on CPU usage, even with all that, it still runs solid as long as I want it too.
 

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Great, even more to think about now :)


After dealing with AMD stuff for the past 2 years, I almost am totally against Intel...........its just that I still have flashbacks to early 4-in-1 issues :) (resolved, but nonetheless in the back of my mind).


-Chris
 

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I'm pretty much decided on the nforce2 boards, I'm just concerned about the AC97 compliance, which means that PCM sound will be resampled to 48Khz.


What does the soundstorm component offer over standard nForce 5.1 audio? Is it just extra outputs?
 

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I've also had an AthlonXP/nForce HTPC for quite awhile now and it is remarkably stable. Only time it gets rebooted is when the power goes out.


As for the SoundStorm...the first webpage on what it is seems confused. http://www.blistering-games.com/nforce2.shtml


This seems to say the original did not support DD encoding. Perhaps the only new thing is more analog outputs? The whole reason I like it is because of the versatility of the digital output to the point I don't need another.
 

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This does get quite confusing. From looking on Nvidia's website and Tomshardware Nforce 2 rundown, it would seem that:


The APU is the same as the nForce1.


The Soundstorm is an addon card that gives only extra outputs i.e. 5.1 analog. It does not give any other features.


BUT


The biggest thing I have noticed in the Tomshardware review is that two of the motherboards had different soundchips from other manufacturers i.e. Realtek and Cmedia!


What are they using these for? I am coming to the conclusion that the APU is just a memory bridge to these sound chips at one end, and a bridge from these chips to DD SPDIF out, at the other.


In which case SQ could be affected by the AC97 chip e.g the Cmedia motherboards could sound better. AND the specifications of these e.g 48Khz upsampling!


Vic
 

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Some data for the above post (I was wrong about the Soundstorm only being for connections - you need a soundstorm motherboard to get the DD5.1):


Quote from Nvidia's site:


Audio Processing Unit (APU)

Integrated into the first- and second-generation nForce media and communications processors (MCP), the APU delivers unprecedented 3D positional audio to the PC platform.

»more information



NVIDIA SoundStorm

Combined with the APU, NVIDIA SoundStorm(TM) audio provides Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding and connections for headphones; front left and right, and rear left and right speakers; a center channel; and subwoofer connection.

»more information


Link to comparison between nForce2 APU and nForce2 APU with Soundstorm:

Here



Link to review of three motherboards and mentions the Cmedia soundchip:

Here
 

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Sorry for being off topic but has there been anymore news about Shuttle's NForce2 based XPC? For example, a shipping date?
 

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slikvik,


I've got an ASUS A7N266-VM Nforce MB. On the issue of resampling... the latest nforce drivers (combined drivers for nforce and nforce2) have ASIO drivers. If you have an audio application that supports ASIO drivers (like the latest Media Center 9.0) the sound will bypass the windows mixer and (I think) it will be sent out the spdif unaltered. They do sound better on my system.


My reciever doesn't display what type of audio stream it is recieving so I don't know for sure that there is no upsampling... however, ASIO drivers are primarily intended for pro audio applications and as such I wouldn't think they would do any up/down sampling unless specifically requested by the end user.


Al
 

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Quote:
The biggest thing I have noticed in the Tomshardware review is that two of the motherboards had different soundchips from other manufacturers i.e. Realtek and Cmedia!


What are they using these for?
My understanding is that the Realtek is only used for the D/A conversion to analog. If you are just sending Digital to your receiver, it shouldn't even touch that.


The Chaintech board, for some reason, doesn't even use the built in sound of the nForce2. Instead, it uses the Cmedia chipset. Personally, I think it misses the point of using a nForce...


Jason
 

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Quote:
I've got an ASUS A7N266-VM Nforce MB. On the issue of resampling... the latest nforce drivers (combined drivers for nforce and nforce2) have ASIO drivers. If you have an audio application that supports ASIO drivers (like the latest Media Center 9.0) the sound will bypass the windows mixer and (I think) it will be sent out the spdif unaltered. They do sound better on my system.
Do you have any way of verifying that you are actually getting 44.1 passed through? I have tried using ASIO output from Winamp with the 2.0 drivers. The computer gives all indications of bypassing kmixer (e.g. sound from Winamp is not effected by anything in the control pannel), but my pre/pro says it is getting 48Khz PCM. Very frustrating.
 

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Lennyr,


I don't have a way of verifying the audio stream type, wish I did. I had posted on the board earlier asking if anyone could verify there was no upsampling but I didn't get a confirmation one way or another.


That is frustrating to hear your results... I was hoping there was no upsampling. Either way it does sound better.


Al
 

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The best way to find out probably would be to play a DTS CD and see if the receiver decodes it. It can't if the computer upsamples it.


Jason
 

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Quote:
Great, even more to think about now. After dealing with AMD stuff for the past 2 years, I almost am totally against Intel...........its just that I still have flashbacks to early 4-in-1 issues (resolved, but nonetheless in the back of my mind).


I too have always had frequent misgivings about the VIA 4-in-1's. However, I recently started running a Shuttle AK35GT2 . I haven't had a problem one with it. However, I'm running Windows XP's native 4-in-1 drivers. I didn't install VIA's. So far, everything works like a charm!!!


I must say though, the new Nforce2 board does look neat. I probably will pick one up before long.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by blammo
1) The new Tbreds are nice - they act as factory-unlocked on the nForce2 boards (see the nForce2 roundup at http://www.anandtech.com ). I can even run my 1800+ (1533MHz) at 9 x 200 MHz (1800MHz), although my memory isn't 100% stable at 400MHz DDR...
WHAT????? You can run for example a 2000+ at the 166mhz bus speed (with multiplier 10) now without overclocking the total speed? This sounds too good to be true.


Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by tbdombrosky
WHAT????? ...This sounds too good to be true.
It is true, and a big plus. I have wanted to try some overclocking, but never wanted to physically alter the chip. I'm going to get an XP1800 T-bred --only $70 shipped free from Newegg. This will be a lot of fun.


O.K. guys, help me figure this stuff out. When you talk about upsampling, what are you saying. I want to use the NForce2 for DD/DTS passthrough from TT1.5, and DD5.1 encoding for game play. I have a different computer with an M-audio card for two-channel playback. Are you saying that the board might be messing with the regular DD/DTS passthrough from the DVD player via the spdif?
 

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Does either the Epox or Asus nForce2 boards have acpi S4 support? Do they support "programmatic" wakeup from hibernation?


Thanks!
 

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Jeffrey,

When I am talking about upsampling I am referring to the 44.1 to 48khz upsample that happens to CD audio/APE/MP3 files on an AC'97 system.


TheLongshot,

I'm not following that process. Since the CD contains a DTS stream I'm assuming it would always pass it unaltered... unlike a typical stereo audio file where windows steps in and decodes it before passing it over spdif. I've not messed with DTS audio CD's so fill me in if I'm thinking incorrectly.
 

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Quote:
O.K. guys, help me figure this stuff out. When you talk about upsampling, what are you saying. I want to use the NForce2 for DD/DTS passthrough from TT1.5, and DD5.1 encoding for game play.
You won't have any upsampling issues. There is no sample rate conversion for DD or DTS passthrough. Those are 48Khz signals that truly do get passed-through. For gameplay the DD encoding is fine - game sound quality is pretty uncritical (in the audiophile sense of the word), and the nForce is great where it counts (in the 3D positioning and environmental effects).


There are only two common instances where you might care about the sample rate conversion: critical listening to regular audio CDs, which are 44.1 Khz PCM, and listening to DTS audio CDs, which are 44.1 Khz DTS. Regular audio CDs will get their sample rates converted to 48Khz by the nForce/drivers resulting in noticably different sound if one is listening critically and doing A/B comparisons (the sound quality of the SRC is actually pretty good, and is fine for casual listening/background music). DTS audio CDs will not play 'cause the 44.1Khz compressed signal will get converted to 48Khz, and the compression will be munged.
 
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