The ATI 200 Series is a good chipset, not great but good nonetheless. On the other hand the nVidia nForce 4 is a great chipset. Both of the reference motherboards we received from both companies performed extremely close to each other so you couldn't decide which board is better or worse by just looking at the performance numbers alone. While the ATI chipset is shown terrible numbers in USB/Firewire transfer rates, this isn't a big deal as it is a well known issue and the latest revision of the chipset will have this problem fixed, according to ATI.
We all remember all those years ago when nVidia released the original nForce chipset, not only was it slower then its KT266A competitor from VIA but was plagued with a huge amount of problems. In the defense of ATI, at least their performance of the 200 Series chipset is up there with the well established chipset from nVidia who have been making chipsets for a few years now - it just simply needs to be a bit more innovative when it comes to implementing new technology in the chipset. ATI chose to use the PCI Express lanes to help reduce network bottlenecks which is a good move but then nVidia go and take it a step further by adding it to the MCP so there is almost no bottleneck at all.
nVidia also have the upper hand on ATI with the new SLI technology as not only will they know their own technology better then the other but ATI probably don't (won't) want to create an SLI board which simply helps promote their competitors product. Both chipsets are extremely good when it comes to the performance aspect but with this said if your interested in SLI, SATA 2.0 support, quality integrated Gigabit networking, excellent tuning software the chances are that you will jump on the nVidia bandwagon.
ATI have done a good job for their first AMD64 chipset and we are sure that we will see them come back with more chipsets and force this coming year with more features but for Socket 939 processor owners wanting to start using PCI Express and a whole bunch of other classy features built into the chipset, we can't really go past recommending the nForce 4. Now we just have to wait for nVidia to actually deliver the nForce 4 into the retail market - let's play the waiting game but hopefully you guys don't have to wait too long for this to happen.
nVidia wins this battle for now but we are just itching to see what ATI can come up with this year.
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