As hardware enthusiasts, our enthusiasm for the latest and greatest PC gear often surpasses our bank account's ability to fund another upgrade. That's when we fall back on the always practical approach to maximizing our bang for the buck. Thankfully, this usually doesn't equate to buying products we're too ashamed to put in a modded case. Many companies cater to the more value conscious crowd while still bringing in enthusiast-oriented features.
One example of a product that offers a lot of bang for the buck yet maintains a fair amount of enthusiast-oriented features is the NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI chipset. MSI and Abit both offer nForce 650i SLI motherboards that pack a lot of great features in, at very reasonable prices. Of course, most gaming enthusiasts probably drool over the $200+ nForce 680i SLI boards, but they simple cost too much for many of us. For $50-75+ less, you can buy an nForce 650i SLI board and enjoy most of the essential features found on the 680i SLI board. For a detailed look at the differences between the various nForce 600 Series motherboards, check out the table below.
The main difference between the 650i SLI and 680i SLI that seems to concern gaming enthusiasts is that the 650i SLI's PCI express slots have x8 electrical connections instead of x16 in SLI mode. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that SLI in dual x16 mode hasn't proven to offer significant benefit over SLI with dual x8 PCI express slots. As you can see in the tablet, the 650i SLI also lacks a third PCI express slot. In addition to the reduction in PCI express lanes, the 650i SLI chipset also lacks official support for SLI-ready memory with EPP (although some 650i boards like the Abit board in this article do support it) and most of the networking-related special features.
For most users, even enthusiasts, however, these extra features and capabilities are unlikely to be missed. In this article, we'll compare the MSI P6N SLI Platinum to the Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI and get a better idea of just how well the 650i SLI chipset performs.