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MSI P6N Diamond nForce 680i Motherboard Review

MSI P6N Diamond nForce 680i Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Believe it or not, there are high performance motherboards out there for Intel's latest and greatest CPUs which don't have an Intel chipset at their heart. Top of that list is the nVidia nForce 680i.
 89% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Nov 02 2007   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI P6N Diamond

The nVIDIA nForce 680i Chipset

MSI has taken an interesting approach with its P6N Diamond by utilizing both the nForce 680i and 590i chipsets on one motherboard. The main reasoning is PCI Express lanes, and the very necessary 1333MHz FSB which was brought to market in the 680i core logic.

As far as features go, the nVIDIA nForce 680i SLI is only a small upgrade over the nForce 590i chipset. In fact the only new feature it incorporates is a higher FSB, 1333 MHz specifically. The nForce 680i SLI chipset is also supposed to be an overclocking monster, follow the jump to the next page of this review for the final word on that..

As you might expect, the nVidia nForce 680i SLI is split into the traditional Northbridge/Southbridge configuration. As with earlier nForce chipsets, the nForce 680i MCP Southbridge handles most of the work.

The nForce 680i SLI supports a 533/800/1066/1333 MHz FSB connection to the processor, so it's compatible with Intel's next generation quad core processors. Between the nForce 590i and nForce 680i MCP is a 2GHz HyperTransport connection.

The nForce 680i SLI Northbridge supports the regular JEDEC standard DDR2-800 memory, as well as DDR2-1200 SLI-Ready RAM (aka EPP).

The nVIDIA nForce 590i Southbridge supports a secondary PCI Express x16 slot for another videocard, a PCI Express x8 connector, four PCI Express x1 slots, five regular 32 bit PCI slots, dual Gigabit MACs with nVIDIA's DualNet technology, a 7.1 channel High Definition Intel Azalia audio controller, six Serial ATA II slots and one IDE channel which supports two devices. On the MSI P6N Diamond, when Quad SLI is enabled all four PCI Express x16 slots get eight PCI Express lanes each.

Of course, it is up to the individual motherboard maker to decide how and which of these features are actually implemented. For the most part the nForce 590 SLI MCP and nForce 680i MCP are identical.

nVidia nForce 600 Series Feature Breakdown
nVidia nForce 680i SLI
CPU Socket 775
nVida SLI Support Yes, (2 x16)
nVidia FirstPacket Yes
nVidia DualNet Yes
Native Gigabit Ethernet 2
Teaming Yes
TCP/IP Acceleration Yes
nVidia MediaShield Storage Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 6/2
SATA Speed 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5
nVidia nTune Utility Yes
PCI Express Lanes 48 lanes
USB Ports 10
PCI Slots 5
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia)

nForce 680i SLI Assorted Technologies

nVIDIA's integrated audio solution supports Intel's High Definition Audio Azalia standard. With Serial ATA going the way it is, there is only one IDE channels integrated. To balance out storage requirements, the number of Serial ATA II (3Gbps) ports has been set at six. Continuing on the hard drive front, nVIDIA's Serial ATA II channels adhere to the Serial ATA 2.0 spec and support RAID mode 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.

nVIDIA DualNet technology basically gives the user greater control over network processes. All high end nVIDIA chipsets by default support two Gigabit connections. Users can combine the two connections for more bandwidth, and there is hardware TCP/IP Acceleration which lowers CPU utilization. Another very cool feature is nVIDIA's FirstPacket Technology which allows you to prioritize network traffic. So for example, if you are a gamer that tends to do multiple things while you're online, you can prioritize your game traffic so that ping times are not affected by the other processes going on in the background.

On the memory front, the nVidia 680i SLI chipset supports Enhanced Performance Profiles or EPP which was introduced in the previous generation. This is an open memory standard put forth by Corsair and nVIDIA which takes over where JEDEC's SPD leaves off. As the Enhanced Performance Profiles description implies, it adds performance profiles to the memory SPD in addition to the conservative compatibility settings already programmed in.

EPP compliant memory is dubbed "SLI Ready" memory on nVidia platforms and allows the system to dynamically tighten up memory timings and increase voltages for better performance with no fuss. Whether you're a novice or experienced computer user, the benefits of EPP are immediate.

Finally, nVIDIA's nForce 680i SLI supports nTune which is arguably the best enthusiast software available. It allows users to control their systems and realistically with nTune, there is no longer a need to go into the BIOS to adjust settings. You can do everything from within Windows XP or Vista! Speaking of tuning, PCSTATS overclocking tests are next!

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Contents of Article: MSI P6N Diamond
 Pg 1.  MSI P6N Diamond nForce 680i Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  MSI P6N Diamond Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 3.  — The nVIDIA nForce 680i Chipset
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the Diamond
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004 Continued
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Graphics)
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Office)
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Data Crunching)
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 11.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark05
 Pg 12.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 13.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3., Quake 4
 Pg 14.  PCSTATS Maximum Motherboard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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