XFX nForce 680i Reviewajmatson - December 4, 2007
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The XFX 680i is designed for the Intel Platform supporting Socket 775 CPU's. XFX used the reference design of the 680i series while making minor changes to suit the needs it anticipates of customers who are purchasing motherboards. XFX went with a black PC board instead of the usual green which ads to the boards asthetic appeal.
For the back panel there are enough ports to please anyone who uses the XFX nForce 680i SLi. The one thing that was not included was an eSata port, which for a high end board I feel should be added, but as for the rest there are plenty of connections available. Starting from the top of the board there is a PS/2 mouse and keyboard port, a firewire port, six USB 2.0 ports, Optical S/PDIF, 8-channel high definition audio, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
For card expansion the XFX 680i does not leave you hanging. It offers two PCI slots, two PCI-e 1x slots for future cards coming out, like wi-fi and more, two x16 PCI-e slots, and one x8 PCI-e slot. Yes, you heard me right, two full 16x slots for SLi cards and more. No more cutting the second x16 slot's bandwidth in half when you run multiple graphics cards. With this set up you can have two graphics cards running in SLi mode in the black slots and also have a Physx card running in the blue slot for optimum game performance. You can also have three graphics cards in each of the slots for multiple monitor setups for games or business applications with, of course, the blue one only running in x8 speeds.
The panel internal connections are just as plentiful as the external ones. Starting from the right hand side of the board you have the four ram slots for DDR2-800 modules, one PATA port for CD-ROMs, a 4-pin molex power port, behind that is the front panel headers, which are sandwiched and not in a very easy location to get to, then below are four of the SATA ports, a 90 degree floppy port, and two 90 degree SATA ports. On the bottom are the fan headers, firewire headers, USB headers, a debug led, and CMOS battery. One thing I found unique was the power and reset switches on the board itself, which make it easy to cycle the power while working inside the computer without having to hook up the case wires for testing.
The cooling features of the XFX 680i are mainly heatsinks by the CPU and the Southbridge. The Northbridge has a massive fin style heatsink with a cooling fan that can bee installed on it to whisk heat away. There is also a heatpipe that runs from the Southbridge to the Northbridge to aid in keeping the critical parts cool.