Seven 650i SLI Motherboards Compared


While the P5N32-E SLI Plus may certainly be awardable for its features and performance, its price is a little out of the league of other 650i SLI motherboards. It doesn’t even use the complete 650i SLI chipset, instead relying on a custom combination of parts that resembles Nvidia’s upscale 680i LT. As such, it’s in a class by itself. Compare Prices on nForce 650i SLI Motherboards

The next-best performing board is Asus’ P5N-E SLI, but this stripped-down version is horribly light on connectors and VRM components compared to the competition. To top that off, its $140 typical Web price is far from cheap.\

Third in performance and overclocking is Gigabyte’s GA-N650SLI-DS4, but it trails the leader by only 0.2%. Top that off with a full array of connectors and a fairly low price and it begins to look like an editor’s choice contender, until the editor burns his finger on the Northbridge sink. The GA-N650SLI-DS4 can only be recommended for people who use Intel’s stock cooler or one of a similar design.

The MSI P6N SLI Platinum has a superior chipset cooling solution and is fully equipped with all the basic features required for the enthusiast market. It cost $10 more than the Asus P5N-E SLI, but its better layout, better chipset cooler, complete connector set and solid capacitors are worth at least twice the price difference. It’s a superior overclocker and would be my personal choice if I was forced to select a 650i SLI solution, even though it benchmarked 0.3% slower than the best performing boards in this comparison.

Abit’s Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI ranks second in overclocking and fourth in performance, but this board is only 0.4% slower than the best performing Asus models. Overclocking by 1% would more than make up that difference, and Abit didn’t hack away at connectors to save pennies on production cost. Its low average Web price makes it a great value.

The ECS NF650iSLIT-A would be a great low-cost choice for two types of buyers : Those who don’t game, and those who want to game on a low-cost SLI configuration. Its inability to select x16 mode for a single graphics card slot held it back in games, but this effect was amplified by choosing a graphics card that’s several times more powerful than most buyers in its market will use.

The MSI P6N SLI (non-Platinum) sells for a similar price to the ECS NF650iSLIT-A and has slightly better features. The sample we received didn’t properly support DDR2-1066 memory, but the majority of buyers will chose less expensive DDR2-800. I tested this one for two days trying to get it stable at DDR2-1066, and throughout it all the board remained DDR2-800 stable. I would have no problem recommending it to a budget builder who simply "must have" an SLI compatible solution but will actually never use more than a single card. If you think this type of buyer is rare, please take a look at TG Forumz.

Author’s Opinion

The Asus P5N32-E SLI is the best equipped board in the comparison, but it’s not a true 650i SLI chipset solution and is priced well above these. That would leave the MSI P6N SLI Platinum as an obvious editor’s choice candidate, except for its fourth-place performance standing. Awards are generally reserved for obviously superior solutions, and the P6N SLI Platinum barely missed receiving one.

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