Seven 650i SLI Motherboards Compared

Test Setup

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System Hardware
Socket 775 ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo E6700(Conroe 65 nm, 2.67 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
RAMCorsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF2x 1024 MB DDR2-1111 (CL 4.0-4-4-12)
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD1500ADFD-00NLR1, Firmware : 20.07P20150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA/150
Graphics CardFoxconn GeForce 8800GTX, P/N : FV-N88XMAD2-ODNVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX - 768 MB
Power SupplyOCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI - 700W
System Software & Drivers
OSWindows XP Professional 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform DriversNVIDIA Platform : nForce 650i Version 8.43NVIDIA Platform : nForce 680i Version 9.53
Graphics DriverNVIDIA Forceware 158.19

The 650i SLI chipset is marketed as a less expensive SLI solution compared to Nvidia’s flagship 680i SLI, so comparing the two comes naturally. What better board to use as the 680i baseline than Nvidia’s own design ? Representing the reference design is the ECS PN2-SLI2+ with BIOS P25.

The 650i SLI doesn’t officially support DDR2-1066, yet the majority of performance motherboards are completely stable using it. Corsair’s XMS2-8888 was chosen for its low CAS 4 latencies at this astronomical speed.

The only board that didn’t completely support DDR2-1066 was MSI’s P6N-SLI (non-Platinum), which consistently became unstable after several minutes of using this setting. The P6N-SLI was perfectly stable at a slower 800 MHz data rate, but keeping all systems at the same setting was most important for an accurate performance comparison. Since retesting every board at DDR2-800 was not an option, the P6N-SLI was dropped from performance charts.

The best performance comparison is one with relatively few "bottlenecks," so the Foxconn 8800GTX was chosen for its graphics power

Finally, a faster hard drive might not do much for the majority of benchmarks, but who builds a fast system with a slow drive ? Western Digital’s WD1500 Raptor was thus chosen.

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