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Nvidia nForce 680i SLI Chipset Review

Date: 2006-11-9

   Nvidia has been present in the chipset market for just a few years but they have managed to become pretty successful in this field already. Starting 2001, when they introduced their fir...

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Nvidia has been present in the chipset market for just a few years but they have managed to become pretty successful in this field already. Starting 2001, when they introduced their first Athlon XP core logic set, Nvidia became the chipset leader for AMD platform. I believe I have every right to state that the majority of today's enthusiast platforms built around AMD Athlon 64 processors are based on the chipsets from this particular manufacturer. In other words, every new nForce product for AMD processors is better than the previous one and wins more fans. And there are multiple reasons for that. It is not only the technological innovativeness of each new nForce chipset, but also very smart marketing campaign. Besides, Nvidia's competition in the Athlon 64 chipsets market has never been serious enough.

As for the situation in the Intel chipsets market, things are turning completely different here. Since they got the license for Intel Quad Pumped Bus in early 2005 and until recently they haven't managed to introduce a core logic solution that would outperform Intel's own developments from the consumer features standpoint. nForce Intel Edition chipsets lost to Intel's own products from the performance prospective as well as from the overclocking potential standpoint. As a result, neither nForce4 (Intel Edition), nor nForce 5XX Intel Edition managed to win a significant market share in the chipset field. Most mainboard manufacturers have turned their back to these chipsets and wouldn't use them in their products at all.

In fact, it hasn't been a dramatic misfortune for Nvidia until recently. They were targeting their solutions for gamers and enthusiasts and hence could do without the focus on Intel platform, because it was not that popular in the above mentioned market segment. Now, however, the situation has changed to just the opposite. The launch of extremely successful processors on Core microarchitecture changed the common state of things: CPUs from Core 2 Duo family in no time became the most popular enthusiast solutions. Therefore, Nvidia has to introduce new chipsets for Core 2 Duo in order to retain the respect and popularity among the computer elite.

The growing popularity of multi-GPU configurations has become an additional stimulus to work harder on new Intel solutions. High-performance SLI systems that consisted of two GeForce graphics cards are only supported by nForce chipsets. Therefore, Nvidia has to provide high-quality chipsets for LGA775 platform, if they want to increase the sales of their GPUs.

Until today they have already introduced two modifications of Intel core logic sets. However, the only difference between the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition and the newer nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition was their South Bridges (Media and Communications Processor ?MCP), which have moved to these solutions from the chipsets for Athlon 64 processors. In reality, the currently existing chipsets for Intel platform were based on the same chipset North Bridge (System Performance Processor ?SPP) and hence suffered from identical problems, the major being extremely scarce CPU overclocking friendly options.

Today Nvidia has finally decided to give up the past heritage ?the not very successful SPP chip. New chipset family for Intel processors they are announcing today, Nvidia nForce 600i features different SPP chip also known as C55. The major improvements of the new SPP chip are higher performance of the integrated memory controller and 1333MHz processor bus support that gives us hope for better overclocking results. So, looks like Nvidia nForce 600i should be free from all major drawbacks of the previous generation products and may become a good basis for new Core 2 Duo based systems. However, practice is not always following the theory that is why we should definitely run some benchmarks before we make up our mind about the new Nvidia chipset solution. For our today's performance analysis we managed to get our hands on a mainboard based on the top solution from the nForce 600i family ?Nvidia nForce 680i SLI. So, our today?article will be devoted to this particular product.

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