NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI
One of the most impressive features, considering this is technically a mid-range priced motherboard, is the 680i LT SLI's two full PCI Express x16 slots for true 16x16 SLI support. Previously, 16x16 SLI was kept for Nvidia's high-end products, but this product shows that this feature will finally be drifting down to the mass market level. While mosts tests show that 16 x 16 SLI shows only a slight performance boost over an 8 x 8 SLI configuration in most scenarios, it's always a positive to know that your high-end graphics cards are running at their full, intended speeds without any potential bottlenecks. This secondary PCI Express x16 slot can also be used for other PCI Express devices if not needed for graphics. These slots are also useful for those looking to setup high-speed multi-monitor configurations.
In addition to the two PCI Express x16 slots, this motherboard is equipped with two PCI Express x1 slots and two 32-bit PCI slots. There is a slot left "open" in the middle, which is where the third PCI Express x16 slot would go on a full 680i SLI board.
The board features six Serial ATA-II/300 ports on the right side of the board, four of which are sandwiched between the memory banks and IDE slot, two more of which sit off edge of the PCB, and are better positioned for "clean-cabling" environments. All of these ports support RAID functionality through Nvidia's NVRAID MCP, including RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5. The board also supports one standard Ultra ATA/133 and a floppy port. This board requires a 24-pin primary ATX power connector and an 8-pin secondary ATX connector. The connectors are positioned well, so as to not obstruct case airflow and allow for clean cable routing.
eVGA nForce 680i LT SLI I/O Panel
As for the I/O panel, the board is quite feature packed considering its price point. A quick glance shows (left to right) PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, a single 6-pin Firewire 400 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an optical S/PDIF digital audio port, 8-channel analog audio ports, a single Gigabit Ethernet port and two more USB 2.0 ports. The motherboard also has pins to connect another Firewire port along with four more USB 2.0 ports (for a total of eight USB 2.0 ports and two Firewire 400 ports).
Onboard audio functionality is handled by a Realtek ALC885 high-definition (HD) / Azalia audio CODEC. This audio chip supports 7.1/8-channel audio along with up to 24-bit S/PDIF digital output, along with EAX and DirectSound support. For heavy gamers, we would still opt for a dedicated audio card, although the onboard audio should certainly suffice for the vast majority of gamers out there. Onboard LAN is connected through a Marvell PCI Express PHY which connects to the Nvidia MCP.
Realtek HD Audio CODEC and Marvell Gigabit Ethernet PHY
As for bundled extras, eVGA does things right with a clean, simple, but functional array of cables. eVGA includes black rounded IDE and floppy cables, along with six companion black Serial ATA cables and Serial ATA power adapters. Also bundled are rear panel adapters for Serial, USB, and Firewire, which allow you to route these pin-level connectors to the back of your case if you're not using them to connect to the front of your chassis. eVGA also includes an SLI bridge, I/O shield, driver disks, and a quick install manual. Nothing more, nothing less - just what we need to get this board up and running.