More Than Just a 'Paper Launch': 680i Motherboard Comparison, Part 1


The clouds have lifted, and the dreary "Pre Core-2" chipset days from Nvidia have finally given way to the bright and sunny future...or have they? Over a month has passed since Nvidia announced its long-awaited 680i SLI chipset availability, yet all but one brand has so far used the chipmaker's reference motherboard. That one exception will be represented today, along with one of the reference design products and a newcomer that has not yet reached retail channels. For those counting, that adds up to three boards. Our next review of 680i SLI chipset motherboards will be in January..

Extended bus speed support for faster processors and RAM, enhanced memory controller performance and an increased number of PCI-Express pathways are the major marketing promises that buyers hope will pair the fastest 8800-series graphics technology with the fastest Core-2 series processors.

Forty-Six PCI-Express pathways allow the 680i SLI to support two x16 cards at full bandwidth and a third x16 card in x8 mode, leaving eight more lanes for other devices. Indeed, all three boards provide three x16 slots, and the chipset's total of nine links assures support for six additional devices.

We could go on for pages about some of the more advanced features carried over from the 500 series chipsets, such as DualNet Gigabit Network Teaming, FirstPacket packet prioritization and Mediashield enhanced RAID support, but our recent 680i chipset article detailed those far better than this motherboard comparison could.

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.