IntroductionFoxconn WinFast C51GK8MA nForce4 (C51) Motherboard
For all the benefits that NVIDIA's nForce4 chipset has brought to the table, including PCI-Express, SATA2, Gigabit Ethernet, and IDE RAID support, it's actually misses out on some of the features incorporated into older designs. Think about it for a moment and tell us what's been missing from NVIDIA's recent chipset lineup?. For one, NVIDIA chose to ditch the popular nForce2 APU (Audio Processing Unit) and run with basic AC'97 capability. This method keeps costs down and allows for the end-user, be it a system integrator or off-the-shelf purchaser, to add in a discrete, hardware-assisted card if need be.
On a more practical note, the nForce4 series of chipsets are also bereft of an integrated graphics (IGP-equipped) model that was popular with the aforementioned nForce2. Research has shown that almost half of AMD-based systems that ship today do so with integrated graphics, so it was high time that NVIDIA, who, let's not forget, are purveyors of the some of the tastiest 3D accelerators around, got back on the integrated graphics bandwagon for its K8-class chipsets.
Having integrated graphics opens up the possibility of quiet, lower-cost PCs based around today's leading processors. An ideal IGP-equipped nForce4 mainboard, then, would be something along the lines of a cheap, micro-ATX-sized model that would be good at all things multimedia, and would make a decent fist of rendering modern games. It just so happens that NVIDIA's released such a chipset a few days' ago. Codenamed C51 and sporting GeForce 6-class integrated graphics (steady, it's not a GeForce 6800 GT) and released for AMD's K8-class of CPUs, NVIDIA's going after the integrated graphics market in a big way again.
We were fortunate enough to receive an early sample from the folks at Foxconn. Read on to find out if its WinFast C51GK8MA made the right impression.