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The third and final major difference between the Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-D any most other motherboards we’ve looked is the Karajan audio module. Rather than having the audio codec on the motherboard DFI have moved it to a small plug-in module, attached to the motherboard via a set of pins. This is meant to reduce EMI interference and other kinds of noise that might be picked up. However, I have to admit that my untrained ears didn’t pick up any more noise on other SLI boards than it did with the DFI Karajan module. The Realtek ALC850 AC97 audio codec might hold back the full potential of DFI’s audio setup as it is not the best audio codec on the market partly because it’s not HD compliant.
This is also one of few boards available so far with an x4 PCI Express slot, which is physically longer than a x1 slot. How significant that is at the moment is hard to tell, but I have heard whispers about PCI Express soundcards needing a x4 slot to work properly so there might have been some wisdom here on DFIs side.
The x4 slot though only works in x4 mode when SLI is enabled. If you’re not familiar with how PCI Express bandwidth works this can be tricky to explain so bear with me. The nForce 4 SLI chipset has a total of 20 data lanes at its disposal. In non-SLI mode on the Lanparty UT nF4 SLI-D this is split up into one x1 slot, one x2 slot and one x16, meaning that the x4 slot only operates in x1 mode, as there’s only one lane of bandwidth left available to it. In SLI mode however, the x2 and x16 each become x8 slots – leaving four lanes of bandwidth, which are then assigned to the x4 slot. The x1 slot is then disabled.
Further expansion comes in the shape of two PCI slots, which could be restrictive. However, the board does have plenty of onboard 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.