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ECS PN2 SLI2+ nVIDIA nForce 680i SLi Motherboard Review

ECS PN2 SLI2+ nVIDIA nForce 680i SLi Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Let's be frank. The question isn't whether AMD or Intel are leading the charge, it's nVIDIA. For the last couple of years anyway, the graphics boys in Santa Carla have shown the PC world how to make a good chipset and a feature packed motherboard.
 89% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ECS Feb 28 2007   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ECS PN2 SLI2+

The nVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Intel Edition chipset

Feature wise the nVIDIA nForce 680i SLI is only a small upgrade over the previous nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition chipset. In fact the only new feature it incorporates is a higher FSB, 1333 MHz specifically. Unofficially the nForce 680i SLI chipset is also supposed to be an overclocking monster... for the final word on that flip on over to the next page of this review.

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 Northbridge 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 680i SPP 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). We should also note that the nForce 680i SPP supports 18 PCI Express lanes itself.

The nVIDIA nForce 680i MCP Southbridge is the busier of the two and supports a secondary PCI Express x16 slot for another videocard, One PCI Express x8 connector (for nVIDIA's upcoming Physics accelerator), 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.

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. In fact, on this board the southbridge chip is labeled 590 SLI MCP.

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 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. Corsair was the initial memory manufacturer out the door with this technology, and now most memory offers parts with it onboard.

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, now you can do everything within WindowsXP or Vista!

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Contents of Article: ECS PN2 SLI2+
 Pg 1.  ECS PN2 SLI2+ nVIDIA nForce 680i SLi Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  PCIe SLI Graphics and More
 Pg 3.  ECS PN2 SLI2+ Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  — The nVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Intel Edition chipset
 Pg 5.  Overclocking an nForce 680i SLI Motherboard
 Pg 6.  Inside the PN2 SLI+ BIOS / Test Specs
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SuperPi, PCMark05
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 11.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3
 Pg 12.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Quake4 / Conclusions

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