Performance Analysis And Conclusion
Nvidia’s nForce 600-series now is available at top to bottom price points with the introduction of the 650i Ultra. At an estimated $99 street price (we’re guessing it will drift lower in time), Nvidia will now be able to move their technology into low-cost gaming systems, instead of losing this market share to Intel’s 965 series. As lower-cost, mass-market products are always the big sellers, we would expect that it won’t take long for the 650i series to overtake the 680i series in sales. The introduction of the 650i Ultra also begins to squeeze the 650i SLI out of Nvidia’s spotlight a bit, as it’s now sandwiched in between the 650i Ultra and 680i LT SLI in terms of price and features.
Intel’s 965 series chipsets currently have a strong foothold in the budget/mid-range market, and it will take Nvidia some time to catch up, but the 650i Ultra is a strong contender. For roughly the same price point as the 965, you get Nvidia’s more efficient memory controller, very flexible overclocking, and Nvidia’s own GPU-level overclocking/optimizations. However, as these GPU optimization features only work with a scant few Nvidia cards, we wouldn’t consider this to be a major selling point at this time. The 965 series is also a particularly strong overclocker, so this won’t be a cakewalk for Nvidia in the slightest.
We’re impressed, for the most part, with eVGA’s board, and we feel that it delivers a lot of value for its intended price point. If we want to be picky (and of course we do), we would have stuck with a low-speed chipset cooler instead of a passive cooler, which relies on the CPU cooler to run at high-speeds in order to keep the chipset cool. It also would have been nice to see at least a single Firewire 400 port thrown on this board, given that Firewire adoption is fairly significant today.
In any case, if you wanted the performance and flexibility of an nForce 600-series board but didn’t want to pay through the nose for a 680i class board with SLI functionality which may or may not be used, you now have a viable option with the 650i Ultra. It’s a solid platform and an excellent performer. We have no qualms in recommending it. Admittedly, there are more exciting platforms out there, but it’s the workhorses like the NVIDIA 650i Ultra which end up being used in a wide varity of systems and installations.