Gigabyte cranks up the specsmanship for its GA-N680SLI-DQ6, which offers no fewer than 10 SATA ports and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Yep. Four. What you’d ever need four Ethernet ports for, we don’t know.
The N680SLI-DQ6 also sports a honking heat pipe that actually wraps around to the back of the motherboard to a heatsink. Layout FUBARs are kept to a minimum, but some may squawk about the four SATA controllers on the bottom edge that could conflict with running SLI with double-wide cards.
One “feature” we will never understand, however, is Gigabyte’s insistence that it hide access to some critical system settings in the BIOS. You can’t set the RAM timing simply by going into the BIOS. You have to use the secret CTRL-F1 sequence that isn’t documented in the manual. Unless you’re Indiana Jones and you stumble on the secret you’ll never know it exists. Bah.
Using the same hardware setup we’ve utilized in our last five motherboard reviews, the Gigabyte was quite speedy in our benchmarks. In our synthetic memory tests, it squeaked past the MSI P6N SLI Platinum (reviewed in July) as well as the two other P35 boards we’ve tested (reviewed in August). The N680SLI-DQ6’s worst performance came in the hard drive section of PCMark05—it came in dead last in disk I/O. That’s odd since the 650i chipset in the MSI board sports pretty much the same SATA controller. The board also ran slower than the lesser nForce boards in our Valve Particle test. As we’ve noted, this test seems more sensitive to latency, which we didn’t expect to be a problem since the RAM was manually set for both of the boards. As with the MSI P35 board, a BIOS update may be needed, but overall, performance was quite good.
Craploads of SATA ports; pretty speedy.
Realtek audio still doesn't work with EAX.
Nvidia nForce 680i SLI
Sisoft Sandra XI (MB/s)
3DMark2001 SE Overall
Valve Particle Test
Fear 1.07 (FPS)
We used a 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 overclocked to 2.33GHz on a 1,333MHz front-side bus, 2GB of Corsair DDR2 and 2GB of Corsair DDR3, a WD GD740 drive, a GeForce 7900GTX, a 1KW PC Power and Cooling PSU, and Windows P Professional. Intel boards were tested with AHCI modes enabled.