nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

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nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-14 @ 22:19

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I've been wanting to play around with nForce 1 (aka 420) so picked up the MSI K7N420 Pro recently. I'm focusing on the 2001 experience with it.

Athlon XP 1800+
Thermalright SLK-800 with vintage rheostat-equipped YSTech fan. All purchased from a old store called 2CoolTek. ;)
1GB RAM (Corsair XMS 2x512)
Radeon 8500 128MB
160GB HDD
DVDROM
XP

Observations...

Flashed to the latest BIOS. Earlier BIOSs lack USB keyboard emulation, and have bugs like poor PCI write performance (poor HDD writes) and memory quirks.

Radeon 8500 apparently dislikes nForce1 and the driver will set AGP to 1x. I forced it to 4x in ATI's SmartGART without issue though. I've put in a good bit of game time without issue. GeForce cards run 4X AGP speed by default though.

I'm running SPDIF out to my main PC's X-FI Ti HD card because naturally the motherboard's analog output leaves something to be desired. I couldn't get any sound on digital though. I discovered that the board is automatically enabling Dolby Digital encoding and there's seemingly no way to change to plain PCM with the latest drivers. I got nForce chipset driver package 3.13 (nForce_3.13_WinXP2K_WHQL_english) and that has a checkbox as shown. Later drivers have a different control panel called NVMixer which is shall we say designed for ease of use (fewer scary checkboxes).
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Has anyone used any of the other nForce 1 boards?
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-16 @ 00:14

Another little observation - the AGP slot has a bunch of capacitors below it and they cause problems with dual slot cards. Not smart design there. The fan on my replacement 8500 heatsink is actually offset so it doesn't hit the cap.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby Garrett W » 2019-3-16 @ 07:36

Cool thread! I have that exact same cooler in use for my socket 370 system, but I've never owned an nForce1 board. Are you planning on doing some sort of performance comparison between it and its successor or is this strictly to see if the chipset was stable etc?
While you're at it, what drivers are you using for the 8500? I've always heard that OpenGL implementation left a lot to be desired on these cards (which is still true today for AMD lol), with titles such as SW:KOTOR and JKII: Jedi Outcast running much slower than the competition. Did later drivers bring these cards (and the 9600/9700/9800) more in line with Nvidia's offerings?
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-16 @ 16:06

Hey Garret. I just built it for some retro gaming. Been playing AVP2, NOLF2, SOF2 and Max Payne 1/2. I do have KOTOR on it but haven't played it much.

Performance seems just what you'd expect from an Athlon XP. It runs these games very well. The only quirks are from the AGP slot which does seem to be slightly touchy with respect to compliance. The FX 5900 actually froze up once. And all ATI cards I put in default to AGP 1x (but seem to work fine at 4x).

8500 is a pretty great card for most games. It does a cool error diffusion dithering for 16-bit color rendering, and its anisotropic filtering looks good and has little performance hit. Pixel Shader 1.4 gets you some extra effects, like Max Payne 2 mirrors and lighting that only showed on NVidia's DX9 cards. The anti-aliasing is best left off though. Compatibility with most popular games is fine. I've run Catalyst 3.8, 4.2, and 5.8, I think.

KOTOR is trouble though. It runs alright but it doesn't look great. Catalyst 4.2 gets you all effects, but I noticed it doesn't appear to be mip mapping so there's lots of texture aliasing. I believe there are problems on Dantooine with most ATI cards (the desert heat effect). Frankly KOTOR is best played on NV cards.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby JonathonWyble » 2019-3-16 @ 17:22

swaaye wrote:Has anyone used any of the other nForce 1 boards?

I'd never choose nForce motherboard chipsets, so no.
AMD chipsets FTW, because they have pretty sick performance. For audio systems, I prefer Realtek HD Audio, because it has great audio quality. Other than that, nice project :happy:
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby Koltoroc » 2019-3-16 @ 18:24

JonathonWyble wrote:AMD chipsets FTW, because they have pretty sick performance. For audio systems, I prefer Realtek HD Audio, because it has great audio quality. Other than that, nice project :happy:


neither of which were a thing when the nforce 1 and 2 were a thing. AMD chipsets weren't useful since they were only early chipsets with seriously lacking features and HD audio was introduced long after (intel introduced the HD audio standard in 2004).

Nforce chipsets were some of the fastest chipsets for socket A but expensive and nvidias soundstorm was hands down the best on board audio solution at that time, which wasn't hard since most other ones were utter dogshit, particularly realtek. It even had feature like realtime dolby 5.1 encoding that contemporary sound cards didn't have, but analogue audio quality was an issue due to poorly designed analogue circuitry which made cards like the SB Live the go to solutions even on nvidia boards. That wasn't an issue over its digital outputs for the handful of people who made use of that.


Personally I never had a socket A nforce board, they were too expensive back then and I never bothered later. However, I do have an Asrock "frankenboard" that incorporates an nforce 3 and an ULI something chipset to make an AM2 board that has both AGP (from the nforce) and PCIe (from the ULI) as an upgrade solution. Oddly enough I never had issues with it despite its haphazard design. Unfortunately soundstorm was dropped after the nforce 2 and I could not play with that and its onboard solution was a horrid cmedia "Premium Level Superior Audio" (ha, as if) solution that sounds really not good.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby wiretap » 2019-3-16 @ 18:25

I have an Asus A7N266-VM that a coworker just gave me. It is in excellent condition. I haven't built anything with it yet though. I was going to put it in my Ultra MicroFly cube case when I get some time.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-16 @ 19:05

AMD 750 and 760 are solid chipsets. They are usually combined with a VIA southbridge though to have a fuller featureset. They seemed to mostly be about having a chipset available in case the 3rd parties didn't deliver. I'm not very familiar with the multiprocessor segment however.

Realtek HD can have decent quality depending on the implementation but I've yet to like one enough to use it instead of an old XFi card. I have an ASRock Z370 Extreme with "Purity Sound 4" which has fancy circuitry and a headphone amp but it is still overly susceptible to electrical noise.

nForce MCP-D/-T have the same audio processor as Xbox. It is a hardware Sensaura implementation. Like Xbox it has Dolby Digital Live encoding, though that's kind of a niche thing on the PC. It is one of the few products that has a hardware OpenAL driver too. I'd compare it to Audigy.

It would be great to hear about that A7N266.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby JonathonWyble » 2019-3-16 @ 22:02

Koltoroc wrote:
JonathonWyble wrote:AMD chipsets FTW, because they have pretty sick performance. For audio systems, I prefer Realtek HD Audio, because it has great audio quality. Other than that, nice project :happy:


neither of which were a thing when the nforce 1 and 2 were a thing. AMD chipsets weren't useful since they were only early chipsets with seriously lacking features and HD audio was introduced long after (intel introduced the HD audio standard in 2004).

I didn't mean I would prefer to use AMD chipsets during the nForce 1/2 era. I meant I don't choose nForce chipsets for modern hardware. But if I were to use vintage hardware, then I would go with an Intel chipset and motherboard.
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby Koltoroc » 2019-3-16 @ 22:15

JonathonWyble wrote:I didn't mean I would prefer to use AMD chipsets during the nForce 1/2 era. I meant I don't choose nForce chipsets for modern hardware. But if I were to use vintage hardware, then I would go with an Intel chipset and motherboard.


nvidia chipsets are vintage hardware. There haven't been any new 3rd party chipsets for over a decade. the only reason you could even find AM3 boards with nvidia chipsets is because Hypertransport was backward compatible.

BTW, modern "amd" chipsets are derived from the ATI chipsets after AMD bought them exept the current AM4 ones, which have been largely designed by ASmedia.
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby JonathonWyble » 2019-3-16 @ 22:19

Oh okay. Then I guess I'd choose Intel chipsets for vintage hardware. Hence the first post I made in this thread.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby havli » 2019-3-16 @ 22:21

swaaye wrote:AMD 750 and 760 are solid chipsets. They are usually combined with a VIA southbridge though to have a fuller featureset. They seemed to mostly be about having a chipset available in case the 3rd parties didn't deliver. I'm not very familiar with the multiprocessor segment however.

AMD 750 perhaps - it is hard to get worse than KX133. :lol: But AMD 760 I'm not so sure. Maybe it is just my board (Tyan Thunder MPX)... but its performance is trash. Roughly on par with KT133A, which is rather bad considering AMD 760 is DDR chipset. And of course miles behind nForce2 or even KT266A.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby Koltoroc » 2019-3-16 @ 22:34

havli wrote:AMD 750 perhaps - it is hard to get worse than KX133. :lol: But AMD 760 I'm not so sure. Maybe it is just my board (Tyan Thunder MPX)... but its performance is trash. Roughly on par with KT133A, which is rather bad considering AMD 760 is DDR chipset. And of course miles behind nForce2 or even KT266A.


could be the board. Tyan was always more about reliability and stability unlike normal consumer hardware that was all about performance.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby Garrett W » 2019-3-16 @ 22:57

swaaye wrote:Hey Garret. I just built it for some retro gaming. Been playing AVP2, NOLF2, SOF2 and Max Payne 1/2. I do have KOTOR on it but haven't played it much.

Performance seems just what you'd expect from an Athlon XP. It runs these games very well. The only quirks are from the AGP slot which does seem to be slightly touchy with respect to compliance. The FX 5900 actually froze up once. And all ATI cards I put in default to AGP 1x (but seem to work fine at 4x).

8500 is a pretty great card for most games. It does a cool error diffusion dithering for 16-bit color rendering, and its anisotropic filtering looks good and has little performance hit. Pixel Shader 1.4 gets you some extra effects, like Max Payne 2 mirrors and lighting that only showed on NVidia's DX9 cards. The anti-aliasing is best left off though. Compatibility with most popular games is fine. I've run Catalyst 3.8, 4.2, and 5.8, I think.

KOTOR is trouble though. It runs alright but it doesn't look great. Catalyst 4.2 gets you all effects, but I noticed it doesn't appear to be mip mapping so there's lots of texture aliasing. I believe there are problems on Dantooine with most ATI cards (the desert heat effect). Frankly KOTOR is best played on NV cards.


Thanks for the info, especially on the 8500. I've been considering to get one at some point just to mess around with it, so I do appreciate the driver talk :D.

As for the retro system itself, it's very much period correct and the games you selected to play should feel very much at home on the Athlon XP 1800+, with the possible exception of Max Payne 2 perhaps? I don't think it was very demanding on the CPU, but if I'm wrong you'd have to correct me on that. I appreciate mostly period correct systems, I've built my own shitty Pentium 4 system just for that occasion, Northwood 3.0 and an FX 5900 Ultra and Audigy 1. I don't usually game on that system, but I got a burning urge to try Halo and Half-Life 2 on it the other day just to see how they ran. I was actually positively surprised by HL2 (provided I used the DX8.1 path lol) and Halo was as bad as I remembered, I never understood why it was as demanding as it was on PC.
I also have another system that I mostly use as a period correct vehicle, essentially some of best pre-DX11 hardware from 2008-2009: Q9550, ASUS P5Q3, GTX 285 (itching to grab another one, but really can't justify it) , Audigy 2ZS. Essentially anything I drooled for back then.

Has anyone tried the nForce chipsets with integrated GPUs (I think they called these models MCP) ? As far as I recall there was one with a GeForce2 MX and one with a GF4 MX. I guess they used a 64bit bus since they made use of your system memory, so I would think they would be comparable to an MX200 and MX420 respectively, but I've never tried them.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-17 @ 00:28

havli wrote:AMD 750 perhaps - it is hard to get worse than KX133. :lol: But AMD 760 I'm not so sure. Maybe it is just my board (Tyan Thunder MPX)... but its performance is trash. Roughly on par with KT133A, which is rather bad considering AMD 760 is DDR chipset. And of course miles behind nForce2 or even KT266A.

AMD 750 seems fine aside from its AGP being picky about cards. TNT 1/2 and 3dfx stuff seems ok but others need AGP 1x mode. GeForce cards all force 1x on there.

I have a ASUS K7V KX133 board and its AGP 4x seems flaky. I haven't played enough with that board... I think the 4x is defective on that chipset but who knows if some drivers got it stable.

I really haven't used AMD 760 enough to say anything. I had a friend with the FIC AD11 way back but don't remember much about it.
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Re: nForce 1 thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-17 @ 00:32

Garrett W wrote:Thanks for the info, especially on the 8500. I've been considering to get one at some point just to mess around with it, so I do appreciate the driver talk :D.

As for the retro system itself, it's very much period correct and the games you selected to play should feel very much at home on the Athlon XP 1800+, with the possible exception of Max Payne 2 perhaps? I don't think it was very demanding on the CPU, but if I'm wrong you'd have to correct me on that. I appreciate mostly period correct systems, I've built my own shitty Pentium 4 system just for that occasion, Northwood 3.0 and an FX 5900 Ultra and Audigy 1. I don't usually game on that system, but I got a burning urge to try Halo and Half-Life 2 on it the other day just to see how they ran. I was actually positively surprised by HL2 (provided I used the DX8.1 path lol) and Halo was as bad as I remembered, I never understood why it was as demanding as it was on PC.
I also have another system that I mostly use as a period correct vehicle, essentially some of best pre-DX11 hardware from 2008-2009: Q9550, ASUS P5Q3, GTX 285 (itching to grab another one, but really can't justify it) , Audigy 2ZS. Essentially anything I drooled for back then.

Has anyone tried the nForce chipsets with integrated GPUs (I think they called these models MCP) ? As far as I recall there was one with a GeForce2 MX and one with a GF4 MX. I guess they used a 64bit bus since they made use of your system memory, so I would think they would be comparable to an MX200 and MX420 respectively, but I've never tried them.

Max Payne 2 runs great on the 8500. It's pretty good at even 1600x1200 (depending on the scene complexity). It runs much better than the Parhelia I tried too lol.

The nForce IGPs are yeah GF2MX and GF4MX based. The nForce dual channel makes them almost 128-bit like. It's decent speed. I used the GF4 MX IGP on a nForce2 many years ago. JK2 ran well enough. Of course it is a GF4 MX so keep the expectations in check.

Sounds like you have a nice collection of old hardware!
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-17 @ 00:36

I figured out how to get PCM output instead of Dolby Digital Live on newer nForce audio drivers that use the NVMixer app instead of the Soundstorm Control Panel.

Add advanced page to NVMixer.
Code: Select all
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\NVIDIA Corporation\NVMixer\Settings]
"ShowAdvanced"=hex:01,00,00,00

Image

Alternatively, just disable DDL.
Code: Select all
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{4D36E96C-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\0020\Settings\APU]
"DigitalOutput"=hex:03,00,00,00
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby Garrett W » 2019-3-17 @ 09:17

I have never tried the AMD 750/760 chipsets (although I have many nightmares still from VIA's chipsets :lol: ), however the one thing that always comes to mind is an odd board from FIC, the SD11:

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Just look at how sparsely populated it is! And then immediately, I'm always reminded of another FIC board that used a Via chipset:

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Was mATX really such a taboo thing in 2000 that they said let's just extend the board? I find this hilarious, I half expect to see markings for the end user to cut around the excess board whenever I look this board up again. :lol:

As for the nForce IGPs, I was intrigued by how much dual channel really helps, so I looked into some reviews and it seems like if you had some fast RAM you could get it to be faster than a GF4 MX 420, which I find pretty impressive for an IGP from 2002. Still, not quite up there with MX 440, but you could save up quite a bit of money by buying a board like this, grab a decent Athlon XP CPU, enjoy some games with the IGP and if you needed a faster GPU you could always fork some cash later down the line. And I always thought the nForce 2 motherboards were pretty kickass, faster and always more stable than the VIA boards.
A bit of a shame that this didn't become a tradition, to offer a chipset solution with an IGP, I think nForce3 and nForce4 omitted one entirely, although I can't imagine what a GeForce FX based IGP would have been like so maybe it was for the best :lol:
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-17 @ 17:25

Yeah those FIC boards are interesting. The SD11 looks like a test platform maybe, and yeah the AZ11 looks like a quick extension of a uATX design.

NV only skipped a 5 series IGP. The nForce4-based GeForce 6100/6150 chipset came next. I had a slim system with GeForce 6150 for awhile (ASUS Pundit P1-AH2). Later I built a system for myself with the GeForce 8200 chipset (ASUS M3N78-VM). That's still in use at my boss's home with a Phenom II X4 in it. Gotta get it back sometime. :lol:

I also thought the NV ION netbooks were exciting at the time.
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Re: nForce 1 (220/415/420 aka Crush 11/12) thread

Postby Munx » 2019-3-17 @ 18:36

Wikipedia mentions "Dynamic Adaptive Speculative Pre-Processor", which allegedly acts like L3 cache.

In theory this should give Durons a notable boost. Will see if I can find my nForce board and maybe compare it to a different one with a Duron.
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