NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Preview
EVGA nForce 680i SLI: BIOS and Overclocking
The EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard is equipped with a Phoenix/Award BIOS designed by NVIDIA, dubbed nvBIOS, that is is very complete and easy to navigate. From within the BIOS users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's integrated peripherals, and monitor voltages and clock speeds. The nForce 680i SLI also has a complete set of memory timing options that offer great flexibility for fine tuning memory performance.
The standard BIOS menu screens don't reveal anything extraordinary, but they will give you a good feel for the layout and organization of the options, which is very good in our opinion. Each individual screen has a host of menus that tunnel deeper and deeper as the options get more complex. Overall, it is very similar to the Award BIOS derivatives used on most other motherboards, but navigating through nvBIOS is a bit more intuitive than most.
One stand-out feature in the BIOS gives users the ability to configure individual SATA ports for eSATA operation. But it also has a host of other good features that allow users to control fans or alter the functionality of just about all of the integrated peripherals. The BIOS also gives users the ability to save profiles with different settings, which makes it easy to switch from overclocked mode, to silent mode, for example. And it's got a built in memory test too, which is handy for testing the stability of an overclocked system.
The real fun stuff incorporated into nvBIOS can be found under the Advanced Chipset menu. It's here where you'll find all of the overclocking tools, which are quite extensive. The section is broken down into multiple sub-menus - System Clocks, FSB & Memory Config, CPU Configuration, and System Votlages. As you'd expect, each section is home to the tools necessary to tweak that particular aspect of the system.
From within the nvBIOS, users have the ability to alter CPU and HT multipliers, PCI Express, Front Side Bus, and Memory frequencies, and a number of different voltages. CPU voltages as high as 1.8v are available and the memory voltage can be set as high as 2.5v. All frequency and voltage settings have fine granularity; we recommend clicking through the screen-shots above to see it all.
One of the more useful options allows users to run the memory in Linked or Unlinked mode. When linked, the memory clock is affected when the FSB is altered, like most other enthusiast class motherboards. But in Unlinked mode, users can actually key in a memory frequency independent of the FSB.
We spent some time overclocking our Core 2 Duo X6800 processor with the EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard with very good results. NVIDIA claims the board was designed with extreme overclocking in mind, and that the 680i SLI is able to hit FSB frequencies in the neighborhood of 2GHz with up to a 1.2GHz memory clock. We weren't able to take our sample quite that high, but a 3.6GHz CPU clock (up from 2.93GHz) with a 1.75GHz FSB frequency is nothing to sneeze at. With the sheer number of options available, and the flexibility offered by the memory controller, we're confident in saying the nForce 680i SLI is extremely well suited for overclocking.