LANParty Venus nF4 SLI-DR Expert is a limited edition motherboard from DFI. It is so exclusive that DFI is selling it inside a big jewelry box. Targeted to socket 939 CPUs and based on NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI, it is a high-end motherboard full of extra features. Let’s take a look at it.
On Figures 1, 2 and 3 you can see its “jewelry box”. Pay attention to the funny “Made Only in Taiwan” seal in Figure 1. In other words, we think that what they are trying to say is “hey, this isn’t a xing-ling motherboard made in China”. But officially saying that wouldn’t be politically right…
As we mentioned, it is based on nForce 4 SLI, so it has two x16 PCI Express slots supporting NVIDIA’s SLI technology. It also has one x1 PCI Express slot, one x4 PCI Express slot (this is the first time we saw this kind of slot on a motherboard targeted to end-users) and three PCI slots.
A very important feature of this motherboard is its capacitors: all Japanese and all aluminum, as you can see in Figure 4.
It has two Gigabit LAN ports, one controlled by the chipset together with Vitesse VSC8201 chip, which makes the physical layer interface, and another controlled by Marvell 88E8001 chip. In Figure 4, you can see these two chips on the left-hand side (the third chip there is the Super I/O chip, from ITE).
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This motherboard has an amazing number of Serial Ports: eight. Four of them are SATA-300 and controlled by nForce 4 chipset, and the other four are SATA-150 and controlled by Silicon Image Sil 3114 chip, which can be see in Figure 5.
This board also carries two FireWire (IEEE1394) ports, controlled by VIA VT6307 chip (see on the far left-hand side in Figure 5). In Figure 5 you can also see some other small details of this motherboard, like the power and reset switches soldered directly on the motherboard, which helps a lot die-hard overclockers, and the colored front panel connectors, which makes the PC assembling easier.
As you can see in Figure 6, all MOSFET transistors used on this motherboard use passive heatsinks. Pay special attention to the sticker that comes on the motherboard power connector, stating the minimum power supply you should use. Pay attention to this connector and you will also see an extra power connector that is required by this motherboard.
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard back panel, where all plugs are soldered. On this motherboard, its Karajan module is soldered to the motherboard. On other LANParty models it is detachable and it is very easy to make it come out of its correct place. This module is in charge of the motherboard’s 8-channel audio, produced by the nForce 4 chipset and decoded by Realtek ALC850 codec (signal-to-noise rate of 100 dB, which is considered professional-level). As you can see, this motherboard has coaxial SPDIF input and output. A different feature found on the back panel is that this motherboard has six USB ports soldered on it, while mainstream motherboards have usually four. As you can see, one of its two FireWire ports is soldered to the motherboard.
In Figure 8, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard and, in Figure 9, a sticker for the back panel plugs, which we found to be a very unique and interesting feature, even though it must be somewhat cheap to produce this sticker.
This motherboard also provides four DDR-DIMM sockets, supporting up to 4 GB of memory.
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The main specifications for DFI LANParty Venus nF4 SLI-DR Expert are:
- Socket 939.
- Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI (PCI Express x16, ATA-133)
- Super I/O: ITE IT8712F
- Parallel IDE: Two ATA-133 ports.
- Serial IDE: Four SATA-300 ports controlled by the chipset and four SATA-150 ports controlled by Silicon Image SiI3114 chip.
- USB: Eight USB 2.0 ports, six soldered directly on the motherboard and two available through an I/O bracket (that doesn’t come with the motherboard).
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): Two ports controlled by VIA VT6307 chip, one soldered directly on the motherboard and the other available through an I/O bracket (that doesn’t come with the motherboard).
- On-board Audio: Produced by the chipset together with the codec Realtek ALC850 (eight channels, 16-bit resolution, 100 dB signal-to-noise ratio), with coaxial SPDIF input and output.
- On board Video: No.
- On-board LAN: Yes, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by the chipset together with Vitesse VSC8201RX chip, which makes the physical layer interface, and another controlled by Marvell 88E8001 chip.
- Buzzer: Yes.
- Power Supply: ATX12V v2.x (24-pin).
- Slots: one PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1 slot, one PCI Express x4 slots and 3 PCI slots.
- Memory: 4 DDR-DIMM sockets (up to 4 GB up to DDR400/PC3200).
- Number of CDs that come with this motherboard: 1 CD.
- Programs included: N/A.
- Extra features: Sticker for the back panel, SLI bridge, power and reset switches on the motherboard and colored front panel connectors.
- More Information: https://us.dfi.com.tw
- Average price in the USA: We couldn’t find this motherboard being listed on North American price comparison websites on the day we published this review.
Wow, what a motherboard. The only problem is to find it around. Being a limited edition version, it isn’t easy to find. On the other hand, DFI told us that they might sell this motherboard without the fancy box but with the same features and accessories.
It is definitely a great buy, if you can find and afford it. It brings everything one needs to assemble an ultimate gaming PC.
However you should be aware that AMD will introduce its new AM2 socket on Computex 2006 (next June), for Athlon 64 CPUs supporting DDR2 memory. So you may want to wait until June to build your dream PC based on the latest Athlon 64 supporting DDR2 memories, and of course that DFI will launch a LANParty motherboard for this new platform.
If you can’t wait, this is one of the most high-end motherboards for your Athlon 64 you can get until then.