It wasn't long ago that I looked at Abit's other nForce based solution, the NV7m. The NV7m is a micro ATX offering with limited expansion but it features everything that's good about nForce including the onboard audio, Ethernet and graphics provided by the IGP. So the limited expansion didn't really matter to the target market and it still featured an AGP slot for a dedicated card.
It was very much targetted at one kind of user however, the kind looking for a small, full featured board for putting in a LAN box or a media or home theatre PC to go in a cute little case in the living room next to the DVD player. These systems are becoming more and more common for streaming video and audio content round your house or for using as a video source on your widescreen TV.
However Abit's traditional market is the power user. The user who wants lots of expansion but that doesn't necessarily need things like onboard graphics and sound. With the nForce being a decent performer and Abit comitted to providing solutions that use the chipset, it makes sense for them to incorporate it into a board aimed higher up the performance ladder at the power user.
So in steps the NV7-133R. I covered the nForce chipset in depth in my article on the MSI K7N420 Pro which featured the 420-D version of the chipset and while the NV7-133R features the 415-D, the chipset information is all relevant. Hop over here for that original article and some more information on the chipset itself.
So I've mentioned that the NV7-133R we're looking at here today is based on the 415-D version of nForce and that the two other nForce boards we've seen are based on 420-D. What's the difference? The difference is that the 415-D doesn't include the on board GeForce2 based graphics solution and instead uses the nForce SPP-128 Northbridge rather than the IGP-128 used in the NV7m.
The use of the SPP-128 gives you all the benefits of the IGP-128 including the TwinBank memory architecture (a pair of 64-bit memory controllers to access main system memory) and DASP, a technology similar to data prefetch, to keep the host processor occupied as much as possible.
Without the integrated GeForce2 graphics processor in the Northbridge, the chipset also gains a small boost in memory performance since the integrated graphics core in the IGP-128 bridge takes a small amount of bandwidth, even when idle and unused.
So broadly similar to the 420-D that uses the IGP-128 that we covered in our MSI and NV7m reviews. Later in the year NVIDIA will release an upgraded version of the two northbridges, IGP-128/333 and SPP-128/333 with support for DDR333 memory and a maximum memory bandwidth of 5.4GB/sec in TwinBank mode giving more memory bandwidth than any other consumer chipset, including i850e in PC1066 RAMBUS mode.
What about the board itself? We know it uses 415-D, but what about the other differences compared to NV7m?