DFI NF4 Motherboards

They make noise, too.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:40 am

Guys, I am very confused. Doesn't this board have TWO x16 PCIe slots? Why not just stick the video card in the second slot? Isn't performance the same? I just purchased this board and the ZM-NB47J and from what I read on the ncix forum they say it should fit with no modification if you use the second x16 slot.

(oh, the northbridge stock fan is very loud indeed. Well, as loud as a video card fan anyway! For $10 it's a bargain to replace with a passive one!)

My setup will be as follows .. just need a cpu cooler ..


AMD Athlon 64 3000+ S939 1.8Ghz 512KB L2 Cache CPU retail box 90nm Winchester
DFI LANPARTY nF4 Ultra-D S939 motherboard w/audio
1.0GB Corsair Value Select Dual Channel 1024MB Kit PC3200 DDR CAS2.5 (2x512MB)
Seagate Barracuda V 120GB hard drive ST3120023A
eVGA e-GeForce 6600 128M PCI-E DVI S-Video out video card
BenQ DW1620-BK 16x4x16 Dual Layer (Black) OEM
Samsung SFD-321B Rev.T4 floppy drive
Dell Enhanced Multimedia PS/2 keyboard
Dell USB Optical Mouse
Soyo Dragon Mid-Tower ATX Case CX-5959OM
Klipsch Promedia 2.1 THX computer speakers 200W RMS
17" Samsung SyncMaster 712N LCD monitor


Silent PC & cooling parts ..
Antec Phantom 350 Fanless 350W power supply
Zalman ZM80D-HP Fanless VGA Heatpipe cooler
Zalman ZM-NB47J Fanless Northbridge chipset cooler
Cooler Master Musketeer 1 (LLC-U01) Black Fan Control Panel
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

Edward Ng
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Post by Edward Ng » Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:10 am

As long as you set the board to SLI mode so that both slots are 8X PCI-Express, performance drop is negligible. If you leave it in standard mode, the second slot is under 8X, and that will cut into your performance a bit.

-Ed

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:34 am

so SLI can be enabled in the BIOS I assume? It doesn't really need to be modded to SLI right? (with the pencil trick thing)

macman
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Post by macman » Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:02 am

poohbear wrote:so SLI can be enabled in the BIOS I assume? It doesn't really need to be modded to SLI right? (with the pencil trick thing)
The NForce4 chip supports 20 PCI Express lanes. These lanes can be assigned to the PCIe slots in two different ways.

The normal format has the following lane assignments

x1 x16 x1 x2

So, the second graphics slot (which has a PCIe 16 physical form factor) has just 2 PCIe lanes. Performance compared with the x16 slot is degraded

When you change the bank of jumpers on the board into "SLI" mode, it changes the lane assignments to

x4 x8 x0 x8

When you are using an SLI setup, this is the mode you would use but it does not mean this mode is actually specifically for SLI. So, whilst it is called "SLI" mode on the jumper settings, it really just changes the PCIe lane assigments.

With x8 on the second graphics slot, the performance is comparable with x16 performance for my 6600GT board. A 6800 would probably exhibit greater degredation as it is more likely to be able to use the bandwidth from the extra lanes in x16 mode.

None of this requires you to play with pencils or to void your warranty.

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Wed Feb 23, 2005 3:49 pm

Thanks for the clarification. So guess I'll try my 6600 (slower than your 6600GT) in both 2nd and 4th slots and test to see if I notice any change in 3DMark. :D

dfrost
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Post by dfrost » Sun Feb 27, 2005 11:43 pm

Great thread, everyone! (as usual in this forum)

I'm also considering this DFI board, but planned to use a Zalman VF700 on a 6600GT video card. Any thoughts, or better yet experience, on how the airflow from that VGA cooler (with card in upper PCIe X16 slot) would affect the NB47J?

Thanks for the actual data with the card in the lower slot at PCI x8. Definitely makes this motherboard more appealing. What about the loss of the middle PCIe X1 slot? Is that compensated by having the upper (now PCIe X8) slot available?

A related thought: Seems like a card that doesn't have any capacitors in the lower front corner would make for fewer mods to the NB47J. That could be a criteria for selecting a video card.

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Mon Feb 28, 2005 1:14 am

Yeah, but I guess pretty much all PCI-e cards are more or less the same size I would guess.

Mine is by eVGA and I can tell it does obstruct the northbridge. (the stock fan is lower than the card so it sits on top fine and barely touching it, but using aftermarket heatsinks obviously not).

Abula
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Post by Abula » Mon Feb 28, 2005 12:11 pm

Here are some pics of a DFI NF4 sli, which is almost the same as the non sli, with zalmans coolers mounted on 6800s. Maybe it will help you.

Image
Image
Image

And in case you wanted to see if the Zalman 7700Cu can fit, check this link,

Zalman CNPS7700Cu Installation
http://www.subzero.plus.com/SLightly.htm

ilh
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Post by ilh » Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:26 pm

I finally got my eVGA 6800 GT and was able to run some 3DMarks on my DFI nF4 Ultra-D.

In the primary PCIe slot at 16x (jumpers on non-SLI):

3DMark01 - 22791
3DMark03 - 11335
3DMark05 - 4581

In the secondary PCIe slot at 8x (jumpers on SLI):

3DMark01 - 22794 (1.000x)
3DMark03 - 11326 (0.999x)
3DMark05 - 4561 (0.996x)

My worst degradation going from 16x to 8x was only 0.4%. Clearly 8x is plenty for a 6800GT.

This was with a 3500+ at stock speed and 2x512MB at 2-2-2@200MHz.

--Lee

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:38 pm

Thanks for letting us know! I'll be sure to use the secondary slot when I receive mine to avoid the modding! :D

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Post by halcyon » Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:24 pm

Some findings based on my own install (some of this is repeat from above):

- Using XP-120 likely prevents using the higest 4x PCI-E slot (unless the PCI-E card to be fitted to that slot has almost no components on the side facing XP-120. XP-120 heatpipes come so close anyway that I wouldn't want the heatpipes pumping heat 1.5 mm away from the PCI-E card PCB)

- The placement of the chipset is just braindead. Using any of the favourite coolers (Arctic Cooling VGA, Zalman ZM-80 series) and you either have to use the built-in noisy chipset cooler or supermodify the Zalman passive (by removing half the fin rows). Even using the thin stock cooler on my X800XL I had to cut away half of the fins, so I could fit the stock cooler and the card itself near the chipset cooler. I also tried using the MicroCool Northpole copper chipset heatsink (without the fan + shroud) but it wouldn't fit with the PCI-E VGA card installed. Very bad placement of the chipset, imho

- XP-120 heatsink is partially placed on top of the first DIMM slots. It is possible to insert standard height DIMMs to these slots AFTER installing XP-120. I don't think it is possible to first install DIMMs and then XP-120 (I tried...). Anyway, this can be a little bit of a hassle, but in the end the airflow from the 120mm fan on top of XP-120 will also blow onto the DIMMS, which is very good.

Other than that, I'm still in the midst of building, so no comments on controls of Bios for fans, etc.

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:47 pm

I agree completely. I'm no expert with this stuff but even I thought to myself, who on earth designed this motherboard and why not move the northbridge somewhere else??? I mean, I see plenty of empty space with no circuits!!

Obviously the person who designed this has no brain.

XP-120 .. I thought we're suppose to use the 2nd and 4th slots anyway for dual channel, correct?

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Post by SometimesWarrior » Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:55 am

I successfully installed a ZM-NB47J northbridge cooler and a ZM80C-HP video card heatpipe cooler into a DFI NF4 Ultra-D, without modifying either heatsink. The video card is an ATI X600 Pro AIW.

It is a tight fit. The video card must go in the bottom PCI-E bracket, and the NB47J must have its two rows of short fins facing down towards the card. The heatpipe passes over the short fins, and the top ZM80C heatsink is a centimeter or less from the tall fins of the NB47J.

I took some pictures on a friend's camera, and will try to publish them by this weekend.

Atragon
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Post by Atragon » Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:44 pm

I would suspect that the reason for the chipset placement is trace length concerns between the 2 PCI-e x16 slots. After all, we are somewhat used to chipset positioning to respect trace lengths to RAM on intel and athlon XP boards, it appears that the same may be true for SLI as well.

nici
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Post by nici » Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:37 pm

The chipset is close to the pci slots on most of the NF4 boards, SLI or not.. Im still thinking if i should go with the Ultra-D and use the second slot and watercool the chipset, or go with the Abit AX8 and leave the passive heatsink on..

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:16 am

Just wondering, so how do you know exactly how to configure the motherboard to SLI mode? I read the manually carefully over again, and could not find any mention of it. The only thing they show is the diagram with the 9 sets of jumpers I think. But no mention on how they are suppose to be set, or why there are so many in the first place. Also, can it be set in the BIOS? No mention of that either. I am still waiting for my other components to arrive, but it seems this manual is probably the worst I've seen for a motherboard manual. :evil:

Also, did yours come with 2 x IDE cables and 1 FDD cable? And both the IDE cables are identical with 80 pin like the type you connect to your HDD? Is it the blue end that connects to the motherboard connectors? Again, no mention of this either.

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Post by Michael_qrt » Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:56 am

Hey guys. I've just built a computer using the DFI NF4 ultra-D with a winchester 3200+.

Anyway I've installed a Zalman NB47J and have had problems with crashing due to the chipset overheating. I'm pretty confident that It's well installed as I did a test install to check the layer of thermal paste (an old tube of arctic alumina). Anyway the monitoring program says that the chipset reaches ~56*C and then crashes. I've touched the heatsink at this point and it was scaldingly hot. I could keep my finger there for less than 1 seccond. So I think the temp is reporting too low.

Anyway, I extracted the fan from the original chipset heatsink and stuck it on the side of the NB47J. With a fanmate at min and fan speed set to about 60% in the monitoring program it is much quieter than it used to be to give a decent temp, however it's not optimal. I think I'll have to get an 80mm panaflo at 5V blowing over it or something eventually.

Oh, BTW the overheating was with the system open on a benchtop, ambient was 22-24*C.

Anyway has anyone else found this sort of thing happeneing to them or has anyone managed to just run it passive?

The irony is that I can touch the base of the CPU heatsink, or even the edge of the heatspreader of the CPU (I've got an arctic cooling freezer64) and even after an hour of prime95 they are not very hot, even with the fan set to minimum on a fanmate ~750rpm.

Maybe I didn't realise just how hot the NF4 chipset gets, I'm surprised that some manufactureres are able to use passive cooling on their boards.

I wonder if there is some option in the bios or something that could affect the heat dissipation of the chipset. The machine is all stock speeds and voltages (chipset is 1.5V, the min available). I can't think of anything obvious but there may be something.


Anyway....

poohbear, to the jumers are organised so that if they are all closer to the top of the board you are in single mode (the board comes like this), and if you move them all to the lower position then you are in "SLI" mode. The jumpers on this board are insted of a little card on other SLI boards which needs to be flipped around to change modes.

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Post by SometimesWarrior » Sat Mar 05, 2005 12:25 pm

Michael_qrt wrote:Hey guys. I've just built a computer using the DFI NF4 ultra-D with a winchester 3200+.

Anyway I've installed a Zalman NB47J and have had problems with crashing due to the chipset overheating. I'm pretty confident that It's well installed as I did a test install to check the layer of thermal paste (an old tube of arctic alumina). Anyway the monitoring program says that the chipset reaches ~56*C and then crashes. I've touched the heatsink at this point and it was scaldingly hot. I could keep my finger there for less than 1 seccond. So I think the temp is reporting too low.
In the system I built, I have a Nexus 120mm between the hard drives and motherboard, blowing on the NB47J and the Zalman'd video card. When the fan was turned down in speed, the air didn't really reach the chipset heatsink, and it got quite warm within a few minutes of boot-up. I sped up the fan to 9-10V, and it's still very quiet, but the chipset is now only warm, and I think it reports 40°C at idle.

I guess the Zalman, like any other heatsink, works much better if it has a moderate amount of air blowing across it. On the open bench, you don't have that directed airflow.

Headd
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Post by Headd » Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:48 pm

This chipset fan drives me nuts. After a few hours of gaming smart guardian reported it at 54 degrees :!: I've ordered some artic ceramique and will remove the fan and apply a thin layer of it. My idle temps on this chipset are around 48-49 which are quite high IMO. I have a Super Lanboy case and a Athlon 3200. This one fan is louder than everything else in the case combined.

I really wish there was some aftermarket chipset cooler I could replace this one with. I'm not to fond of hacking up a zalman for 2 degrees difference.

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Post by v3n » Sun Mar 06, 2005 3:32 am

highest ive seen the chipset reach is about 43c after hours of cs:s and there is little to no airflow around it tbh

the other temp probe often goes higher to about 46c and so im thinking of sticking 2 nexus fans off the side of the 120mm on the xp-120 as my ram run very hot to the touch :shock:

ambient temp is <23c

Headd
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Post by Headd » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:27 am

v3n wrote:highest ive seen the chipset reach is about 43c after hours of cs:s and there is little to no airflow around it tbh

the other temp probe often goes higher to about 46c and so im thinking of sticking 2 nexus fans off the side of the 120mm on the xp-120 as my ram run very hot to the touch :shock:

ambient temp is <23c
43c? Wow..

Mine is not even 43c at idle. Are you sure?

poohbear
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Post by poohbear » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:27 am

yes the northbridge chipset fan is very loud.

Michael_qrt: thanks for the info. Wonder why it's not mentioned at all in the manual regarding the SLI. And why it is 9 blocks instead of just 1 block.

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Post by ilh » Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:03 pm

I just mangled an NB47J for my Ultra-D and have a VF700 on a 6800 GT above it. I think the airflow out of the VF700 moves enough air through what's left of the NB47J to keep things relatively cool. Oh, I have a CNPS7000 on the CPU that blows on the NB47J fins I bent in its direction.

Running with the case side off (still installing other things and contemplating the right cablegami solution), my chipset is at 39C while doing some SATA formatting. Running RTHDRIBL to load up the GPU, my chipset went to 41C after about 20 minutes. This is in 18C ambient. VF700 and CNPS7000 at 5V.

I'll put up some photos in the gallery once I get things cleaned up a bit more. I think I may have set a new record in NB47J mangling. Not a single one of its fins are left in the stock upright position.

--Lee

dfrost
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Post by dfrost » Sun Mar 06, 2005 7:27 pm

ilh,

Thanks for that post. Looks like the airflow from your Zalman HSFs works better then the stock approach. So you're using the upper PCIe slot for the 6800GT?

Looking forward to your pics. Your sys is similar to what I'm considering, except I'll go with a 6600GT.

Do you have an intake case fan that also blows on the NB47J?

Is the VF700 solid on the 6800GT?

What brand of 6800GT did you use?

Any interference problems between the VF700 fins and the NB47J? Your photos will probably answer the last question best.

Michael_qrt
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Post by Michael_qrt » Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:12 am

Thanks for posting up your experiences everyone. After posting I've done some testing in the case which is an Antec SLK1650B. A few observations.

Firstly about the case, although mounting the motherboard in the case was very tight since the case is a bit smaller than the antec 3000 series, the airflow pattern seems to be quite good. However with a full sized ATX motherboard like the DFI NF4 getting in more than 1 hard drive and 1 optical drive will be quite tight, the hard drives would be OK, it would just be cluttered, but it'd be a squeeze to get 2 optical drives in and 3 is out of the question. But who uses 3 optical drives anyway.

OK, about the chipset cooling problem. Even mounted in a case with the rear 120mm fan running at 5V, the chipset would overheat to the point of occasional instability. I have found that even with a very minimal ammount of airflow it is fine, but it needs some airflow.

I think the reson I am having this problem is that I am using the arctic cooling freezer64 CPU cooler which blows air parallel to the motherboard directly towards the 120mm fan at the back of the case. This is great for CPU cooling and exausting the heat, but does not give any seccondary airlow to the chipset.

Anyway, since the computer is my brother's he has taken it and in his environment you can't normally hear the computer. The little chipset fan stuck to the NB47J runs at below it's startup voltage since the motherboard supplies it full voltage momentarily on startup (the fan is controlled by a combo of fanmate and motherboard control). The loudest thing in the system is the video card fan which is the stock fan on an XpertVision 6600GT at 5V on a fanmate (GPU is fine at this setting).

In all, the computer is audible but soft in a quiet environment, but it's not in a quiet environment so it's not a problem.

nici
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Post by nici » Mon Mar 07, 2005 6:44 am

I just ordered the Ultra-D, cant find the VIA based new Soltek in Finland and Abit AX8 wont be available for yet another 2-4 weeks.. :evil:

This thread has been helpful though :) I will either mutilate the NB47J to fit and get some airflow over it or move the graphics card to the lower slot and watercool the NB as well.. I also ordered a Sapphire X800XL, and i will be using a 3200+ Winchester :)

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Post by soujir0u » Wed Mar 09, 2005 11:14 am

I just had mine setup and so far it's doing quite ok.

Idle chipset temps are 40 degrees C with a NB47J and a Nexus 120mm fan blowing on it. Side panels are on.

My Gigabyte 6600GT idles at 50 degrees C. CPU (3200+) idles at 27 with a Papst 120mm at 7V.

I'm also using a XP120 and while the first 2 RAM slots are really hard to get to, it is possible. I managed to install RAM into the first DIMM slot after the XP120 was already installed. Helps if you have smaller hands.

nici
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Post by nici » Wed Mar 09, 2005 12:25 pm

souirj0u--> That sounds pretty promising.. :) 40c with NB47J and decent airflow over it, what was it as standard? Cant have been lower can it? i Mean the stock HS doest look too effective...
I will also have a 120mm Nexus blow on the NB47J and cool the HDD at the same time.

Problems.. Problems... 3200+ is very hard to get at the moment, so ill go for 3500+ Winchester as they are easily available.

Well se how this goes.. I should have the system up and running on saturday :D Heres me hoping that there wont be any more delays because of product (un)availability... :roll:


Oh, heres a link to a seriously high-res picture of the Club 3D X800XL im most likely getting for this setup(if its available :roll:) The wierd thing is that its PCI-X but has power connectors, probably because Club3d is also going to make an AGP version? Its not like it should need a separate power connector.

http://www.club-3d.nl/distri/images/pro ... L86VDD.jpg

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Post by soujir0u » Wed Mar 09, 2005 1:15 pm

nici wrote:souirj0u--> That sounds pretty promising.. :) 40c with NB47J and decent airflow over it, what was it as standard? Cant have been lower can it? i Mean the stock HS doest look too effective...
I will also have a 120mm Nexus blow on the NB47J and cool the HDD at the same time.
I'm not sure how well the standard HSF performed because I turned on the motherboard just to test how loud it was and decided to just replace it immediately. And some people actually say it's silent. :lol:

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Post by ilh » Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:14 pm

Here are some photos of the mangled NB47J on my Ultra-D under an eVGA 6800GT with VF700:

Image

Image

Image

Image

I bent the fins as far away from the VGA as I could but still had to cut two full rows plus several others to clear various components and the VF700. I feel there is zero chance of any accidental contact even if I stress the VGA card a bit.

You can see that the outwash from the VF700 on one side and the 7000B on the other keep the air moving through what's left of the NB47J. In 16C ambient, inside the SLK3000B, all fans on minimum speed (fanmates), with a load of RTHDRIBL with the 6800 GT overclocked to 436/1.18 (up from 350/1.0), I'm getting a chipset temperature of 47C with the inside case temperature of 22C. At idle, the chipset is 36C. These chipset temperatures are comparable to what I was getting with the stock chipset fan outside of the case.

OK, I threw the last one in just to show my suspended drives. :D

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