Jetway NC84E-LF Review (Page 2 of 12)

Page 2 - Bundle, Chipset, BIOS

The retail box is enclosed by a flap cover at the top, making the packaging relatively simple and easy to open. The following contents are included out of the box:

- 1x Jetway NC84E-LF mini-ITX motherboard
- 1x I/O shield
- 2x SATA data cable
- 1x Driver CD
- 1x User manual
- 1x Sheet outlining differences between the NC84-LF and NC84E-LF

The AMD 785G is a very fitting yet reasonably powerful and feature-rich chipset to go along with the NC84 mini-ITX motherboard. One of AMD's major design aims with the 700 series chipset is energy efficiency. Built on TSMC's 55nm CMOS fabrication process, the AMD 785G chipset with integrated graphics comes with ATI PowerPlay technology to dynamically adjust core clock frequency based on system load. As a result, the 785G uses less than 1W while idling, and tips the meters at just over 11W under full load. We can see later in the following page that Jetway's NC84E-LF required only a couple of small aluminum heatsinks for chipset cooling.

The amount of features provided by this chipset is also very commendable for the most part. The AMD 785G Northbridge provides one full bandwidth PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, along with 6 additional PCI Express 2.0 lanes for additional components. Combined, we have 22 PCI Express 2.0 lanes at the motherboard designer's disposal. We regret to say that, despite the huge abundance of available PCI Express lanes, Jetway chose to build the NC84E-LF with a single PCI slot, negating the huge amount of performance potential the user is able to utilize in the aftermarket upgrading department.

However, if you are not looking into slapping on the latest PCI Express based sound card or high performance graphics card, then we've still got some good news in the paper for you today. The integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics is really a gem if you are not looking into any kind of serious gaming. The DirectX 10.1 compliant IGP has SurroundView multi-display support, ATI AVIVO and AVIVO HD/UVD2 hardware video playback acceleration, MPEG-2, H.264, and VC-1 video decoding, and native support for pretty much all video output formats (However, Jetway only implements three out of the available four on this motherboard, which includes HDMI, DVI, and VGA -- I could care less about DisplayPort, so no complaints here haha). Heck, it even has ATI Hybrid Graphics for the IGP to work independently or with a dedicated graphics card -- wait, what did we say about the lack of PCI Express slots again?

Moving on, the SB750 Southbridge completes the picture with a plethora of connectivity interfaces that would leave no one hungry -- figuratively speaking, anyway. With twelve USB 2.0 ports, six SATA2 connectors, one PATA port, and one PCI slot, it is actually surprisingly plentiful for a value oriented chipset. Jetway effectively utilizes ten USB 2.0 ports and all six SATA2 connectors on the NC84E-LF, as well as the (not so useful) PCI slot provided by the Southbridge. PATA is omitted from the picture, but it is 2010 after all, so most people should be able to live with that without any complaints. HD audio is provided via the Realtek ALC662 audio codec. All in all, the AMD 785G is quite an excellent chipset with great integrated graphics, and for the most part Jetway has done it right in implementation, other than the fact that they chose to put in a legacy PCI connector in place of a highly desirable PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. We will continue to biatch more on this subject again later on in this review.

The Jetway NC84E-LF uses a familiar American Megatrends BIOS, and the interface should not be anything new to most experienced users. As always, I am not going to go through every single page to describe every single detail -- I will simply navigate through the things that are interesting, and actually matter to you, the end user. Unlike other Jetway mini-ITX boards I have reviewed in the past, this one actually has an overclocking page to squeeze a little more juice out of your AMD processor. Reading through this section should prove a little more interesting than what I have written on the respective Page 2 sections of Intel D510/NM10 based boards!

Under Advanced Chipset Features, options are available to configure memory, integrated graphics, and PCI Express slots. Realistically, there is not much to touch here other than the Memory Configuration tab, but there is an interesting option to limit available power to the PCI Express slot (Which actually doesn't exist, other than a mini PCIe if that counts, but that does not need 25W) in the latter menu. The rest should be fairly self explanatory, as shown in our image above.

Navigating one more level down on the menu reveals a memory configuration screen, where the user has a surprising amount of options to play around with memory timings, considering this is a mini-ITX motherboard. Miscellaneous settings are listed below the plethora of timing settings menus, including Bank Interleaving (Auto/Disabled), Enable Clock to All DIMMs (Disabled/Enabled), MemClk Tristate C3/ATLVID (Disabled/Enabled), Memory Hole Remapping (Enabled/Disabled), DCT Unganged Mode (Always/Auto), and Power Down Enable (Disabled/Enabled).

In PC Health Status, you will get the usual CPU temperature, system temperature, fan speed, and voltage readings, as demonstrated above. I was surprised, however, to find that the NC84 does not have Jetway's powerful Smart Fan Configuration options found on the NC94 and NC96 -- the user is only limited to 'Auto Fan by Duty' and 'Disabled' for the SmartFan Setting, where neither is very effective in slowing down our CPU fan to my preferences. I tried raising the CPU temperature limit to 65 degrees Celsius from the default 50, but it did not do anything.

On the positive side, I was pleasantly surprised to find a reasonable amount of overclocking options on the Jetway NC84E-LF. While this is a value oriented mini-ITX motherboard for users who are not likely to engage in overclocking, the company does not artificially restrict you from doing so if you really feel inclined to act in this manner. The available options denoted our screenshot above should be self explanatory; one thing I'd like to point out is that the clock speeds are entered numerically rather than digging through a list -- a definite convenience. Selectable processor voltage ranges from 0.800V to 1.300V in 0.025V increments, RAM voltage comes in at 1.85V to 2.00V in 0.05V increments, and Northbridge voltage is available from 1.10V to 1.20V in 0.05V increments. You can't really go much over the limit with a limited range of voltage settings, but at least there's the option of playing around with them on a mini-ITX board.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout, Test System
4. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
5. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
6. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
7. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
8. Benchmark: 3DMark06 Professional
9. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 7.0
10. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R11.5
11. Onboard Sound Frequency Analysis
12. Overclocking and Conclusion