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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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Testbed Configuration

The final part of our Nvidia nForce 680i SLI based reference mainboard discussion will be devoted to the performance analysis. The memory controller in Intel systems is located in the chipset North Bridge therefore the chipset can exert serious influence on the system performance unlike the systems built for Athlon 64.

So, we will compare the performance of the system built around the new Nvidia nForce 680i SLI reference board with the performance of similar platforms built on Intel i975X and iP965 solutions. Our testbeds were configured as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (LGA775, 2.93GHz, 4MB L2).
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS P5W DH Deluxe (LGA775, Intel 975X Express);
    • ASUS P5B Deluxe (LGA775, Intel P965 Express);
    • NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI reference board.
  • Memory: 2 GB DDR2-800 SDRAM (Corsair TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF).
  • Graphics card: PowerColor X1900 XTX 512MB (PCI-E x16).
  • HDD: Western Digital WD1500AHFD (SATA150).
  • OS: Microsoft Windows XP SP2 with DirectX 9.0c.

Here I would like to say that during our test session we experienced some problems with the memory subsystem configuring. At first we wanted to test systems with DDR2-800 SDRAM with the minimal timings settings. Corsair TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF memory modules can work at 3-3-3-10 timings in Intel based mainboards, which we have already revealed in our article called DDR2 SDRAM to Hit 1.1GHz: Corsair Dominator vs. OCZ PC2-8800 Gold Edition. In this case the Command Rate was set at 2T, because Intel chipsets do not support 1T Command Rate.

We expected Corsair TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF memory to run with the same 3-3-3-10 timings in Nvidia nForce 680i SLI reference board, with 1T Command Rate setting. However, the system was running very unstably in this case. As a result, we had to raise the timings to 3-4-3-10 at 1T Command Rate.

So, the memory subsystems of the tested platforms were configured differently, however, these were the most aggressive settings possible. Intel chipsets worked with 3-3-3-10-2T timings, and Nvidia chipset worked at 3-4-3-10-1T timings. All other BIOS Setup parameters were adjusted to deliver maximum performance possible.

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