NF650iSLIT-A from ECS is based on the latest NVIDIA mainstream chipset for the Intel platform, nForce 650i, being a motherboard targeted to the average user that wants SLI and support for the forthcoming Core 2 Duo CPUs based on the new 1,333 MHz external bus. Let’s take a look at the features and performance of this model from ECS.
It is important to know that when under SLI mode nForce 650i makes the two PCI Express x16 slots to run at x8 speed and not at x16. This is exactly the same behavior as other previous mainstream chipsets from NVIDIA like nForce 570 SLI and nForce 4 SLI. NForce 650i brings two advantages over these two older chipsets. First, it supports the new 1,333 MHz external bus that will be used by new Core 2 Duo CPUs yet to be released; Second, it officially supports DDR2 up to 800 MHz, while these other chipsets supported only up to DDR2-667.
By the way, on the motherboard setup you can configure your memory as DDR2-1066. We did this as we were using DDR2-1066 memories, however the system wouldn’t work correctly, meaning that this chipset really doesn’t support DDR2-1066.
Since this motherboard competes directly with ASUS P5N-E SLI we will compare the features found on these two motherboards.
Contrary to what occur on ASUS P5N-E SLI, on NF650iSLIT-A you don’t need to change the position of a small board in order to enable SLI mode, which is great. This motherboard from ECS also has two x1 PCI Express slots, while on ASUS model there is only one.
On nForce 650i chipset the north bridge chip is called C55 and the south bridge chip is called nForce 430i (MCP51) – this is the same south bridge chip used by several other NVIDIA chipsets. On this motherboard an active cooler cools down the north bridge chip, while the south bridge chip uses a passive cooler. This is another difference between ECS NF650iSLIT-A and ASUS P5N-E SLI, as on ASUS model the north bridge uses a passive heatsink and the south bridge does not use a heatsink at all.
On the memory side, ECS NF650iSLIT-A has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, supporting up to 8 GB officially up to DDR2-800. On this motherboard sockets 1 and 3 are orange and sockets 2 and 4 are purple. Configuring DDR2 dual channel on this motherboard is pretty easy: just install each module on a socket with the same color.
On the storage side, this motherboard has a total of four SATA-300 ports and and two ATA/133 ports – which is a great feature, since it is becoming very hard to see motherboards with more than one parallel ATA port. These ports are controlled by the south bridge chip supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD. ASUS P5N-E SLI has an additional eSATA port controlled by an extra chip.
This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by the south bridge using one Marvell 88E1116 chip to make the physical layer interface.
This motherboard has eight USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and four available through I/O brackets, which don’t come with the motherboard). ECS NF650iSLIT-A has no FireWire ports, while ASUS P5N-E SLI provides two of them.