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Is nForce 650 the Mainstream Master?


The nForce 650i Compare Prices on nForce 650i SLI Motherboards is not much behind its bigger brother, the 680i SLI. It supports SLI dual or quad graphics on dual x8 PCI Express instead of dual x16. Not much of a deal. It doesn't officially support FSB1333, but those processors aren't available yet. The SLI-memory feature was removed when Nvidia reduced the USB 2.0 port count from 10 to eight. It's a pity, but would you really spend several hundred bucks on memory? I doubt it. It also has four instead of six SATA ports. Enthusiasts certainly won't accept these feature cuts, as these are part of the nForce 680i SLI's fascination. But the feature set remains absolutely acceptable for power users, especially at motherboard prices of approximately $ 165 for the MSN P6N Platinum, which we used for our tests.

The nForce 650i SLI performs well and very much where we expected it to be. Using DDR2-1066 memory will give you a slight performance boost in few applications such as WinRAR. Yet we recommend staying with DDR2-800 memory, as the performance gains are not worth the cost of the high-end memory. The 650's RAID storage performance is behind the capabilities of the 680i SLI. The I/O benchmarks show performance drops across most RAID modes as the command queue depth raises and the transfer rates in RAID 0 and RAID 0+1 stay behind the results of the 680i SLI, which are already clearly behind the throughput of the Intel core logic. But the 650i SLI inherited Nvidia's strength of keeping up relatively high I/O performance with a degraded RAID 5 array.

Finally, there is one noticeable difference between the nForce 680i SLI and the 650i SLI: Due to reduced PCI Express lane count, the 650i system requires less power and doesn't get as hot. While we would not want to run an nForce 680i SLI on passive cooling, the 650i SLI requires less cooling efforts. The total system power draw with 680i SLI was 137 W, while the nForce 650i SLI test system required 122 W.

Nvidia proved that it is capable of building very decent core logic for the upper mainstream and for the performance segment. While the new chipset cannot beat the efficiency, overclocking abilities and storage performance of Intel's P965 with ICH8, the nForce 650i SLI inherited the flexibility of the 680i SLI (software firewall, overclocking utility). This makes it equivalent to the P965 for power users and probably the better choice for gamers.

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