DFI's LANParty UT nForce 680i LT SLI certainly differentiates itself from other 680i LT boards in many ways. While DFI could have gone the safe route and re-badged another Nvidia reference design based board, they went the extra mile and opted to make a truly unique product which stands out in today's market. The 680i LT SLI boards we've seen to date thus far have been trimmed down to hit lower price points compared to full-fledged 680i SLI boards. However, DFI's 680i LT SLI board is feature packed, and actually bears a closer resemblance to Nvidia's high-end platforms over their mid-range boards.
DFI's engineers put a very large emphasis on overclockability with this platform, with strategically placed heatsinks on every major heat generating component, along with unique coolers on both the Northbridge and Southbridge chips. The design allowed the board to run at lower temperatures compared to other platforms we've tested. The silent heatpipe based cooler is quite unique, and DFI's choice to ship this component separately (not installed by default) gives high-end users some flexibility on how they configure this board for their unique situations.
The LANParty UT nForce 680i LT SLI is feature packed for a 680i LT board, with full 16x16 SLI, in addition to PCI Express x8 and x4 slots; you've got just about every expansion configuration covered. Throw in dual Gigabit LAN ports, eight Serial ATA-II/300 RAID ports, and an impressive onboard audio configuration, and you've got the makings of a high-end gaming motherboard with very few sacrifices due to cost. It will be interesting to see how final pricing of this board works out, as we would expect it to be priced higher than other reference 680i LT boards due to the added features. If DFI can get their price level near to these other 680i LT boards, they'll have a solid advantage in our eyes. However, if it's priced too highly, users might opt for full-fledged 680i SLI boards instead.
We think DFI has done an excellent job creating a unique 680i LT SLI board on the hardware side; although we do believe some work needs to be done on the BIOS level to smooth out the rough edges we encountered during testing. The fan speed control system was non-responsive throughout our testing, and it took much more effort to get a solid overclock from this board in comparison to similarly classed 680i LT boards. In time, we fully believe these issues will be resolved, and when they are, DFI will clearly have a dominant 680i LT board.