DFI Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-D mobo
Good for gamers and overclockers?
Further expansion comes in the shape of two PCI slots, which could be restrictive. However, the board does have plenty of built-in features to make up for this. All the plastic details such as the PCI and PCI Express slots - apart from the power connectors - are UV reactive, which is likely to be a hit with the case modders out there.
The nForce4 SLI chipset offers support for up to four IDE devices and four Serial ATA devices all of which can be set up in various RAID configurations. Integrated Gigabit Ethernet is also part of the nForce4 SLi chipset and this comes with a built-in hardware firewall. A second Gigabit Ethernet controller from Marvell is connected via the PCI bus, but this is not compatible with the built-in firewall. DFI has also added FireWire 400 to the mix with a single port around the back and a header for a second port available.
No less than six USB 2.0 ports are part of the rear I/O alongside the two Ethernet connectors, the FireWire 400 port, the six audio connectors of the Karajan module, coaxial S/PDIF in and out, and finally two PS/2 ports. If you're still using serial and parallel devices you're out of luck as neither of these ports are present. There is a header on the board for a serial port, so this could be bought as an upgrade option, but there's no such option for a parallel port.
A couple of interesting and useful features that DFI has equipped the Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-D with are four small debug LEDs that works in a similar fashion to MSI's D-LED modules.
My favourite feature though, is the on-board power and reset buttons. These make it much easier to test that the system is working when you're tinkering around inside your case. There are also plenty of fan headers spread around the board although the location of a couple of them could do with a re-think. If you're using SLi you need to connect either a Molex or a floppy connector to one of the two power connectors on the board. Being given a choice to use one or the other is rather unusual, but it might make it easier to route the cables from your PSU. Two spare USB headers are also available for front-mounted USB ports on your case.
Apart from the odd layout with the memory modules above the CPU socket, the design works quite well. The power connectors are grouped together at the upper front part of the boards and all the MOSFETs are covered by some solid looking heatsinks. The only complaint here would be that the case connectors aren't colour coded but at least they're clearly labelled.
You don't get a whole heap of accessories in the box, as this is reserved for the full-on Lanparty version. Two rounded IDE cables, a rounded floppy cable, two SATA cables, a SATA power splitter, the jumper removal tool, an SLI bridge connector and the Karajan audio module is all you get. The printed manual is pretty poor and doesn't even cover all the features on the board. There are also a couple of loose sheets of paper in the box with errata.
The BIOS has an interesting feature called CMOS Reloaded. This allows you to save up to four different BIOS settings which can be easily accessed and changed between, something that is very likely going to appeal to the overclockers out there. You could use one highly overclocked setting for gaming and one regular setting for when your doing critical work and stability is imperative.
DFI has also implemented another overclocking feature that enables you to increase the memory voltage above 3.2V, when most boards don't go beyond 2.9V. This could potentially damage your memory modules, so obviously this is done on your own risk. The BIOS that shipped with the board we received was an early one and didn't work with our tests, which a later BIOS corrected. I recommend that you ensuring the board has the latest BIOS after you build your PC.