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EVGA NForce 680i SLI Motherboard Review

NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI — For hardcore enthusiasts
The flagship nForce 680i SLI media and communications processors (MCPs) delivers
extreme overclocking. The platform includes NVIDIA SLI technology for the ultimate
gaming experience and SLI-Ready memory with EPP for one-click access to enhanced
memory settings. Boards based on this solution delivers dual x16 PCI-E lane
performance for the maximum SLI performance.

*NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI — For performance gamers
nForce 650i SLI media and communications processors (MCPs) deliver overclocking
and SLI for gamers with a more modest budget. NVIDIA SLI technology combines
two NVIDIA GeForce® graphics cards for scalable graphics performance, online
game traffic takes priority with NVIDIA FirstPacket technology. Boards based
on this solution delivers dual x8 PCI-E lane performance.

*NVIDIA nForce 650i Ultra — For mainstream gamers
nForce 650i Ultra Series media and communications processors deliver overclocking
and performance for multimedia enthusiasts. Overclock your system with easy-to-use
tools to let you process digital media files faster. NVIDIA FirstPacket technology
prioritizes your online gaming traffic and VoIP calls. Boards based on this
solution delivers single x16 PCI-E lane performance.

*The 650 series of motherboards will be available at
the end of 2006.

The “i” suffix denotes Intel platforms, and of course
an “a” suffix will denote AMD platforms. What it mainly offers over
the 590 SLI solutions is a much better overclocking head-room in the area of
FSB clockspeeds. This is mainly acheived via a die-shrink to 90nm with the C55
MCP. Supposedly, this new solution provides as good an overclocking offering
as the best Intel 975/965 chipsets out there, if not better. Besides this, the
front side bus (FSB) in the NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI MCP is specified to run at
1333MHz to support existing and future FSB speeds we will see as the Core 2
Duos get an FSB bump in the coming future. Through overclocking, the NVIDIA
nForce 680i SLI MCP can deliver FSB speeds well beyond specification.

NVIDIA has also included Quicksync technology that accelerates
the return of data to the CPU from memory when the FSB and memory interfaces
are running in Sync Mode. We shall see what kind of performance boost Quicksync offers when we test
sync vs async FSB performance later on in this article.

Other than competing with the best Intel chipset solutions
out now, it tops the competition by offering dual x16 PCI-E Lane performance
to offer maximum SLI performance, offering 2 times the bandwidth capabilities
in multi-GPU setups. The full feature list of the 680i is as follows:

Highest Performance for Intel Core 2 Processors
At stock speeds, the nForce 680i SLI MCP delivers the highest performance for
Intel processors including Core 2 Extreme (dual & quad core), Core 2 Quad,
Core 2 Duo, Celeron D, Pentium 4, Pentium D 9XX, and Pentium D 8XX.

Extreme Overclocking
A new system platform processor (SPP) delivers extreme front side bus (FSB)
speeds and memory performance along with the NVIDIA NV BIOS and nTune comprehensive
overclocking tools.

Still the Only True Dual x16 Solution for Intel Processors
Ensure the most extreme graphics performance for next-generation GPUs and games.
Two full-bandwidth, 16-lane PCI Express links ensure maximum graphics performance
for next-generation GPUs and games. Offers twice the PCI Express bandwidth of
x8 SLI solutions. Quad SLI enables users to run games at widescreen resolutions
with high image quality for a truly immersive experience.

Third PCIe Graphics Expansion Slot
Extra x16 PCIe slot (electrical x8) provides support for future graphics capabilities
such as hardware-accelerated physics in games. When three
GPUs are used, multi-monitor support for up to six displays is also supported.

SLI-Ready Memory Support
Features support for new Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP)-based memory DIMMs
using the new EPP memory specification, unlocking even higher levels of memory
DIMM performance previously unattainable.

LinkBoost Technology
Automatically increases HyperTransport and PCIe bus speeds on the motherboard
when LinkBoost-enabled GPUs, such as the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 and GeForce 7900
GTX are installed.

FirstPacket Technology
Optimized networking technology that gives higher priority to network game traffic,
resulting in lower ping counts for accelerated online gaming experiences. Be
the “King of Ping” for faster online gaming and clear VoIP calls.

DualNet Technology
Capability that allows the dual GigE connections to be combined for blazing
file transfers—ideal for LAN party game servers and file sharing servers.
NVIDIA DualNet also accelerates TCP/IP connections for lower CPU utilization.
TCP/IP Acceleration delivers the highest system performance by offloading CPU-intensive
packet filtering tasks in hardware, providing users with a PC networking environment
that is faster.

MediaShield Technology
Provides massive storage with support for up to 6 SATA 3Gb/sec hard drives and
a dizzying array of RAID configurations including the industry’s first
dual RAID 5 support on a single controller.

High Definition Audio (HDA)
Brings consumer electronics quality sound to the PC delivering high quality
sound from multiple channels. Using HDA, systems can deliver 192 kHz/32-bit
quality for eight channels, supporting new audio formats.

High Performance DDR2 memory controller
The NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI MCP not only supports 1200MHz memory, it also supports
low latency 1T command rates which is not supported on the competing Intel chipsets.

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