eVGA is certainly not a new player in the market, in fact they are the favorite of many when it comes to their video cards. With the quality and performance that we have seen in their video cards, we would expect to see tehm do very well with their motherboards as well. We have the opportunity to look at their 680i board today, and we will see if their reputation follows them into the motherboard segment of the market. Let me introduce to you the specs of the eVGA nForce 680i SLI 775 motherboard!
|Based on NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Chipset chipset|
|Supports Intel Core 2 Extreme, Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel Core 2 Duo, Pentium EE, and Pentium processors|
|1066/1333 Mhz Front Side Bus|
|4 x 240-pin DIMM sockets|
|Dual Channel DDR2|
|Maximum of 8GB of DDR2 533/667/800/1200MHz SLI-Ready memory|
|2 x PCIe x16, 1 x PCIe Graphics expansion slot, 2 x PCIe x1, 2 x PCI|
|2 x 32-bit PCI, support for PCI 2.1|
|1 x UltraDMA133|
|6 x Serial ATA 300MB/sec with support for RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 0+1|
|1 x Floppy disk drive connector|
|7.1 Channel, Azalia (HDA)|
|2 x 10/100/1000 LAN via|
|1 x PS2 Keyboard|
|1 x PS2 Mouse|
|1 x Serial Ports|
|10 x USB2.0 ports (6 external + 4 internal headers)|
|Audio connector (Line-in, Line-out, MIC)|
|ATX Form Factor|
|Length: 12.0in - 304.8mm|
|Width: 9.6in - 243.6mm|
As you can see, this EVGA board is that standard Nvidia reference design, so there really were no surprises for us as far as layout is concerned. The same concerns that we had with the ECS board is what we see here, which we will highlight as we go.
The top right of the board is where we find our Dimm slots. This board supports DDR2 memory architecture up to 8 GB, in Dual-channel configuration, at speeds of DDR2 800/667/533/400. To the right of the dimm slots, we actually see quite a bit crammed in. You have your 24-pin power connector towards the top. An IDE connector is located just under that. To the left of the IDE connector is a 4-pin molex power connector, which adds stability to the board when running in an SLi configuration. Just under the 4-pin molex connector we find our four SATA connectors. These connectors are powered by the Nvidia chipset, and are SATAII compliant. They also support running RAID in 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD.
Just to point it out, as we mentioned in our last 680i review, this area is just crammed! I know you have to put things somewhere, but this is tight!
The bottom right of the board shows us the cooling for the north and south bridges. Once again, this is a reference design, so we have a passive cooling setup for the southbridge, which seems just fine as it did not even get hot during our testing. The battery and bios are on this part of the board, as well as an assortment of IEEE1394 and USB headers. Also on this part of the board is an LED readout for troubleshooting problems that may arise. We also have onboard power and reset buttons, which I absolutely love when working on a board on the test bench! Here is a closer look at the LEDs.
The bottom left of the board is where we will find our add-in card slots. The board has a total of 7 expansion card slots for use. It includes two legacy pci slots, 2 x1 pci-e slots, and 3 x16 pci-e slots. The two black pci-e x16 slots are fully 16x speed slots. These two slots are also the ones to use for running SLi. The third (blue) x16 pci-e slot will run only at 8x speeds, and will allow for future add-on for your rig (like Physics cards).
We also have our lan chips here. The dual lan is powered by two Marvell 88E1116 Gigabit Fast Ethernet chips.
Sound on the EVGA 680i SLi 775 A1 board powered by the Realtek ALC885, and supports Intel 8-channel HD Audio. This sound solution should be fine for all but the most critical audiophile.
The top right of the board houses our CPU socket, which is nice and clear of any obstructions, or anything that would even come close to hindering the installation of a HSF or any other means of cooling. You can also see the 8-pin power connector tucked in right behind the I/O ports, just above the heatsink.
The back I/O port has our ps2 mouse and keyboard connectors, your firewire and six USB ports and your audio jacks. We also have our dual gig-lan and SPDIF out for our audio.
Bundle and BIOS
The EVGA 680i board comes with a pretty complete bundle. It has everything you need for your setup. The manual, quick start and driver floppy are located on the lid of the box. Everything else was wrapped in plastic, which was actually nice and helps to keep everything together.
In the bag, you get your IDE, floppy and SATA connectors. You also have a couple SATA power adaptors. In a smaller bag, you have your USB, firewire and Com port headers. The Northbridge fan comes unassembled and in a box. Not sure why you would NOT use it, but it is not hard to connect. Also in the box is your backplate for your case.
EVGA uses the AWARD bios, which has been a standard on the Nvidia 680i and 650i boards that we have looked at.
The Advanced Chipset page is where we will find most, if not all of the areas that we need to tweak and overclock this board. There are quite a few things to tinker with in the EVGA bios, which makes it very nice for those that like to constantly mess with and dial in their boards. Let's take just a little closer look...
The System Clocks page is where we find our CPU multiplier, as well as settings for our PCIe cards, HT multipliers and Spread Spectrum settings. It is nice to have a CPU multiplier, as a few of the boards we have looked at recently do not have one.
The FSB And Memory Config page is where we can set our DDR2 to run in SLI mode, and also...
It is where we can set the DDR to run Linked, Unlinked or Auto, allowing us to run separate timings not related to the FSB speed. This has been a nice tweaking option for those with ram that may not be up to snuff with their CPU or for a number of other reasons that would call for independent settings.
FSB settings go all the way to 2500 (625). This is nice!
You ram can run at speeds up to 1400... way to go EVGA!
Our mem timings page may not be as thorough as we have seen on some boards in the past, but for most, these are more than enough settings to be happy with. Let's look at our voltages!
Vcore goes all the way to 1.8v, which is great!
CPU FSB voltage goes up to 1.5v.
Vdimm has options up to 2.5v, which is nice to see.
SPP voltage has up to 1.55v available.
MCP goes up to 1.75v.
HT has options to 1.55v.
Not much interesting on the Integrated Peripherals page, but this is where you will set up most of your connected devices.
Our SystemMonitor page has a wealth of information for us, and is actually fairly thorough.
Alright, let's move on!
Benchmarks and Testing Setup:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4ghz)
EVGA 680i SLI 775 A1
ECS PN2 SLI2+ Extreme
Asus P5N-E SLI
ATI X1900 XTX
Corsair C6400C4 2 GB kit
Western Digital 250GB, 16mb Cache
PC Power & Cooling 750
Windows XP Professional w/SP2
All tests were run using a clean install of Windows XP Professional with SP2. For our stock speed tests, we ran everything at default timings for the CPU. Our stock speed testing used Corsair DDR2 C6400C4 2 GB kit at 1.9 vDimm at DDR2 800. Timings for our overclocking were left 4-4-4-12 and 1.9v, but the ram divider was set to the lowest possible to take any ram issues out of the CPU overclocking. Vcore is set at 1.5v for overclocking. The video card was left at default timings as well for all tests. For this review, stability was determined by running our battery of tests, plus the ability to complete a SuperPi 32mb test run.
SiSoft; Sandra 2007
Sisoft; Sandra 2007:
SiSoftware, founded in 1995, is one of the leading providers of computer analysis, diagnostic and benchmarking software. The flagship product, known as "SANDRA", was launched in 1997 and has become one of the most widely used products in its field. SANDRA is used by almost 400 world-wide IT publications, magazines, review sites to analyze the performance of today?s computers. Multi-Core Support: As well as SMP (multi-processor) and SMT (multi-threading/Hyper-Threading) support we have added multi-core support for future AMD and Intel CPUs. The benchmarks have been optimized to schedule the optimum number of threads on the optimum (virtual) CPU on both multi-core and Hyper-Threaded computers.
Here we see all the boards scoring very close to one another. The eVGA board falls right in the middle of the pack, though you would be hard pressed to see any difference in actual performance based on these scores.
We see the same here. The eVGA hangs with all the other boards we have tested so far. It is interesting to see the Nvidia 590 board still hanging around with the performers we have looked at in the newer generation of boards.
POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a
Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a:
The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is an high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file, and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.
The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which in a nutshell allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 as all of the processors we are testing today are dual-core.
Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.
In our POV-Ray testing, the eVGA 680i board falls right in the middle of the pack. It is interesting to note that both the 680i boards here are outpaced by the 650i boards that are represented, though not by very much.
POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing
Legit Reviews was e-mailed by one of the developers over at POV-Ray to
see if LR could include real-time raytracing in our performance
analysis of Kentsfield and Quad FX. After spending a bit of time to
get the beta software to work correctly LR has some of the only
real-time raytracing numbers available for Conroe, Kentsfield and Quad
We see the same results with the 680i boards in the Real-time tracing tests. The eVGA only outperforms the ECS 680i board here, while the 650i, 975x and 590 boards all come in with better scores than the 680i boards.
ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:
Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking.
In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark
2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress
system performance without architectural bias. For the Memory Testing,
higher numbers represent better performance. On the remaining tests,
lower seconds represent better performance.
The eVGA board does very well in out ScienceMark memory bandwidth testing. It comes in second to the Asus 650i board. Let's see if this hold true in the Everest testing as well...
Everest Ultimate Edition
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics
and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the
award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and
tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information,
advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the
effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are
available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to
previous states or other systems. We use EVEREST because it does memory
read and write speed, memory latency measurement to stress the memory
and cache subsystem, including references list to compare actual
performance with other systems.
The eVGA really spreads its wings in the Everest Read testing. All four boards that were tested came out pretty much even in the write portion of the testing though.
Super PI Mod v1.5
Super PI Mod v1.5:
Super PI is a program a lot of enthusiasts use to benchmark overall system performance, as the program is capable of calculating pi up to 33.55 million digits on a timer. Many overclockers and enthusiasts are in a battle to get the lowest Super Pi times possible. We use the 2MB test this time, as it demands quite a bit more stability than a 1MB test. Of course, most believe using the 32MB test is a must to prove stability.
The eVGA nForce 680i SLI 775 A1 board does very well in our SuperPi testing as well. The eVGA, ECS 680i, Asus 650i and the Foxconn Intel 975x based board all are very, very close in performance here. This is what we would expect to see on the boards at default settings.
MAXON; CINEBENCH 9.5:
CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based
on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of
tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when
analyzing a computer?s performance in everyday use. Especially a
system?s CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put
through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16
dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all
relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different
computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system.
Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal
Pretty much can skip this page... I have yet to see any differences when testing in Cinebench.
RARLAB - WinRar v3.61 has a multithreaded version of
the RAR compression algorithm, which improves the compression speed on
computers with several CPU, dual core CPU and processors with
hyperthreading technology. Multithreading is enabled by default, but
you can disable it in "General" part of "Settings" dialog.
We see a wide range of scores here in WinRAR. Our eVGA boards comes in right in the middle of the pack both in the Single CPu and the Multi-threaded testing.
RightMark Audio Analyer
In interpreting the results on the boards, we see that the Dynamic Range and Noise Levels on the EVGA board does very well for itself compared to some of the other boards represented here, as the greater the dBA the better. We can also see that when it comes to the THD and IMD percentages, the EVGA does pretty good compared to the other boards, since lower percentages mean better audio. Any of the boards audio will probably be fine for most people, even for gaming and movies. But if you are a die hard audiophile, you will likely get an add-on card for the best sound that is available.
Hd Tach 3
Hd Tach 3
HD Tach will test the sequential read, random access and interface burst speeds of your attached storage device (hard drive, flash drive, removable drive, etc). All drive technologies such as SCSI, IDE/ATA, 1394, USB, SATA and RAID are supported. Test results from HD Tach can be used to confirm manufacturer specs, analyze your system for proper performance, and compare your performance with others. HD Tach is very easy to use, quick, and presents data in easy to read graphs, including the ability to compare two storage devices on screen at the same time for easy analysis.
In our HD Tach testing, we see the eVGA 's average read speed is comparable to the other boards tested. The burst speed testing however is a different story, where we see the sVGA come in dead last to every board that we have represented here.
3DMark06 includes an array of 3D graphics, CPU and 3D feature tests for overall performance measurement of current and future PC gaming systems. With this broader design approach, 3DMark06 has become the benchmark of choice for all PCs with top-of-the-line graphics hardware and CPUs. 3DMark06 is the first product from Futuremark using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library in two very complex, game-like threaded CPU tests conceived to measure properly performances of single processor, multi-core and multiple processor systems in next generation of games. In addition to using real-time physics, both CPU tests also employ multi-threaded artificial intelligence algorithms. By combining the results of the two CPU tests and four graphics tests, 3DMark06 enables users to get a 3DMark score which reflects the overall gaming performance of their PC.
Please note that higher is better and that these charts will be replaced once the typo has been corrected.
Sierra; F.E.A.R w/ v1.0.8 patch:
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault and Recon) is a first-person
close-quarters combat game for the PC. The story begins when a
paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace
compound, and the government responds by sending in Special Forces. The
group loses contact with the government when an eerie signal interrupts
radio communications--and when that interference subsides moments
later, the team has been destroyed. That's where you come in. As part
of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else
can handle, your mission is simple: eliminate the intruders at any
cost, determine the origin of the signal, and contain the potential
crisis before it gets out of control.
Here in F.E.A.R. we see the eVGA 680i board soar to the top as it outpaces all of the other boards. Ok, so now we pretty much know that there is not a whole lot of difference at default settings on these boards. If that is all you are looking for, than your best bet is to get the cheapest board here and enjoy your system. But if you want to see what may or may not set this board apart from the others, than the next page is where it is at. Let's move on to overclocking!
Overclocking on the EVGA board was one of the best experiences I have had in overclocking in a good while. It was easy and straight forward, and yielded some great results. As we usually do, we started out with the high overclock that we could get with the default multiplier of 9x on our Intel e6600. We also set the vcore up to 1.5v as actually read in the bios (not the actual setting, it was 1.537v). We unlinked the CPU and the DDR and let her fly and this is what we got...
That's right folks! A new high for our little CPU! 403MHz FSB is a great accomplishment! Overclocking on this board is absolutely fantastic with the default multiplier!
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The eVGA 680i SLI 775 A1 motherboard is just a fantastic board for the individual who just want to boot up and go or the individual who is the enthusiast looking for a board that will take them as far as they can possibly go.
The bundle that comes with the board is quite full, and certainly will not leave you wanting for anything to get your rig up and running. The bios that is developed for the 680i boards has come quite a ways, and is as friendly as anything we have used. The features on the board are many, and allow you to set up just about anything you can think of or need.
The layout is the reference Nvidia design, so the issues that plague the eVGA version of the board will be no different than the other boards built on this design. I still think that the top right corner of the board around the SATA and front panel connector pins is way to tight and cramped. Other than that, I think the layout is pretty good. Performance on the board at stock setting is right where it should be. We all know that there is little difference at stock settings that will set any of these boards apart right now. So that leaves the bundle, overclocking and price to be the major factors in deciding which board to get.
Speaking of overclocking, this board was absolutely stellar, beating our old record with the particular Intel CPU that we have used. Price, well, that is a concern for any 680i SLI board. As you read in our eVGA 680i LT review, the 680i boards sit at the top of the price list, but the decision that has to be made is it is worth it to purchase a full 680i board over it younger brothers, the 680i LT or the 650i? My answer is no. The extra cost just dos not warrant the small increase in performance (if any) that you get.
Another question would be, what is the difference, if any between this board and the ECS PN2 SLI2+ that we reviewed a few weeks ago? Well, actually other than the way it is packaged inside, the documentation included and the cover art on the box itself, there really is no difference. Even the price of the boards is within $5, so if you are picking up a 680i SLI motherboard that is based off the reference design be sure to buy one from a company that you like and that has a good RMA policy.
Legit Bottom Line: The eVGA nForce 680i SLI 775 A1 is a great board, from a great company. It is a board that you should look at if you are wanting the top of the line in the nVidia camp. You get full features, a full bundle, full performance as well as the full price with this one.