While they are still not known as a tier 1 player in the motherboard market, on par with the likes of MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte, DFI is a still a highly regarded name in many circles. DFI is one of the few companies in the market which are genuinely in tune with what overclockers and enthusiasts are interested in. Their LANParty series in particular has garnered piles of awards and is often used in many "extreme" overclocking projects due to the flexibility provided by their products. LANParty boards are flashy and over-the-top, but at their core, they have been solid through and through.
DFI has been somewhat quiet as of late, their last major board to receive a lot of attention being their LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G, which was the only motherboard to hit the market based on ATI's RD600 chipset for Intel processors. While it was a unique niche market hit, the uncertain support timeframe for this chipset makes it a less than desirable solution for long term use. Nvidia's new 600-series chipsets, on the other hand, are widely supported and will be around for quite a long time. With the RD600 buzz dying down, it's now time to see what DFI has up their sleeve next.
DFI's latest LANParty board is based on the newly released Nvidia nForce 680i LT SLI chipset, DFI's first take on the 600-series product line. DFI has opted to skip the high-end 680i SLI and the mid-range 650i SLI, opting for the 680i LT and (soon) the 650i Ultra, both of which are brand new and will be around for quite a while. The 680i LT, in particular, should appeal to DFI's target audience, as it has a lower price point compared to the high-end 680i SLI, but still maintains full PCI Express 16 x 16 SLI performance, stripping out a lot of the less utilized fluff which is bundled with the high-end chipset. DFI has taken the 680i LT SLI and jazzed it up with a slick board design and a lot of extras which certainly allow this board to stand out in the crowd of 680i LT SLI boards currently on the market.
DFI is producing this board under the LANParty UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R tagline, and we've got it in our hands today for some thorough, in-depth coverage. Let's get to it.
Shipping Box - Front
Shipping Box - Back
"Nvidia never ceases to strive to make a better and faster chipset. Not long ago, they have released their best chipset to date, the nForce 680i LT. It is regarded as the highest spec. with the best performance in the industry. This chipset is a dedicated design for the enthusiast. It is versatile and has tremendous functionality; SLI support, Teaming, RAID and has a lot more functions for hard-core gamer and enthusiasts alike. These features allow the NF680i LT to set the standard for one of the highest gaming chipsets in the industry now. This high-grade chipset matches well with the best motherboard designer, in order to fully unleash the potential of the NF680i. DFI, the most enthusiast-oriented motherboard designer announces the self-designed and manufactured LANParty UT NF680I LTSLI-T2R and has launched it into the market with a brand new package design."
DFI's new 680i LT SLI motherboard has specifications which are very similar to top-tier 680i SLI motherboards. Nvidia's reference 680i LT SLI platform does not include dual Gigabit Ethernet ports (and DualNet support), nor does it include the third PCI Express x16 sized slot, both of which were only featured on the high-end 680i SLI. DFI's 680i LT SLI board, however, includes both of these features, making it surprisingly close feature-wise to a full 680i SLI board. However, one major feature which separates the 680i LT SLI and 680i SLI is official support for memory speeds of 1200 MHz+, which DFI's 680i LT board does not have. This board still maxes out at 800 MHz (officially), but given DFI's highly overclockable nature, those wanting to push memory speeds beyond 800 MHz should not have much trouble.
DFI goes beyond the Nvidia reference 680i LT designs in a few ways, including having a third party SATA-II controller onboard, adding PCI Express x4 connectivity, and including both digital audio input and output connectors. DFI's product is also much flashier on the board level, using custom cooling systems, elaborate heatpipes, and color-matched components all around.