Since our first look at the 680i chipset back in November, we along with our readers have wondered when the lower priced 650i family of chipsets would arrive, and more importantly how they would perform. ASUS was first to market with the NVIDIA 650i SLI chipset in late December and we fully expected to see other manufacturers following in January. It is now March and we are just now starting to see boards based on this chipset finally coming to market. MSI has released two 650i based boards with the P6N SLI-FI competing in the $115 market space and the P6N SLI Platinum should be coming in around $155 or less once supply is available. ECS has their 650i board in the market now and we should see abit releasing 650i product into the retail channels by the end of the month. Unfortunately, Gigabyte's performance oriented 650i board will not arrive until sometime in April.

The base 650i Ultra boards were expected in February but are missing in action and at this time we wonder if they will even be released. Usually we find NVIDIA based products being hard launched upon announcement day but the 650i chipset has not followed that pattern. This chipset should be the bread and butter offering in the NVIDIA Intel chipset family as it was designed to compete against the Intel P965 in the mainstream market. In our original look at the chipset we found it offered very good performance and indeed in most ways was a competitive offering to the P965.

We really liked the chipset and looked forward to seeing it and the P965 square off against each other in a myriad of configurations and price points. Sadly, it appears these scenarios will not happen in the same way that we had envisioned it after the marketing hoopla that followed the 680i launch. The 650i SLI was designed to offer dual x8 SLI operation, provide competitive platform performance to the Intel P965, and do this for a price in the $115~$165 range. We still think it can, but with the Intel P35 launching shortly, it appears that the late arrival of these 650i products is only going to further hurt NVIDIA's progress in the Intel chipset market.


NVIDIA designed the 650i SLI as their true mainstream Intel performance chipset, with the 680i targeted at the upper end performance segment and priced around $220 compared to $115 for the 650i. Details about the differences between the two chipsets can be located here. The major highlights are the 650i only supports dual x8 SLI operation, single Gigabit Ethernet, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, eight USB 2.0 ports. The 680i in contrast supports dual x16 SLI, an additional x16 physics card slot, dual Gigabit Ethernet with teaming, six SATA 3Gb/s ports, and ten USB 2.0 ports on the 680i.

Although NVIDIA did not originally state specific support for the upcoming 1333FSB processors on the 650i, the board manufacturers are telling us their boards will be capable of full support with an updated BIOS release unless otherwise noted. We also noticed that ASUS included EPP memory capability along with LinkBoost technology on their 650i board. These items are not officially supported by NVIDIA in their product documentation but each feature did work as advertised; these features are not available on the ECS or MSI boards.

This leads us into today's performance preview of the MSI P6N SLI Platinum. In our article today we will briefly go over the board layout and features, provide a few important performance results, and discuss our findings with the board. We will provide a further in-depth review of this product in our upcoming 680i/650i roundup. With that said, let's take a quick look at this impressive 650i solution from MSI.

MSI P6N SLI Platinum Basic Features
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  • ranutso - Wednesday, March 21, 2007 - link

    Great article. Thank you Gary. Reply
  • cosmotic - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - link

    How can you say that MSI software is decent? It's totally hideous. I think Anandtech owes it to the community to encourage motherboard manufactures to start writing native-feeling Windows applications instead of these crap piles all the manufactueres are shipping now. This includes AMD/ATI, nVidia, Realtek, and many others for their drivers as well. Reply
  • Gorgonzola - Thursday, June 21, 2007 - link

    I could not agree more! Reply
  • anandtech02148 - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - link

    Here I go again
    complaining about the psu and power consumption, but 300watts load,200watts idle,
    not to mention fancy subwoofer, a few electronics here there,
    good gaming is in the summer time, and i'll be cranking up the AC too which is another 250wtts.
    i wish newegg.com would sell me a n.korean light water nuclear reactor so i can run all my greatest hardwares.




    Reply
  • Spanki - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - link

    Hey Gary,

    Since it looks like this mb outperforms pretty much every other board in the review in most tests (at stock speeds, where head-to-head comparisons usually take place) - including the much touted 'Extreme' board(s), do you plan to include it for comparisons in future reviews?
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    The 650i uses 21% more power on idle compared to the ICFX3200. What is nV doing with all that power? This seems absurd. Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    quote:

    The 650i uses 21% more power on idle compared to the ICFX3200. What is nV doing with all that power? This seems absurd.


    It is being channeled into the on-board Flux Capacitor. ;-) I can tell you that we have hounded NVIDIA to no end about this issue with their chipsets. It should be addressed when they finally go to a single chip solution later this year (we are still hoping this occurs).
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    If I were to venture a guess, NVIDIA probably isn't doing any proper power savings work for the chipset. Just like with CPUs and GPUs, there's a lot of stuff on the chipset that is often not in use and can be put into a sleep/deep sleep mode. The 650i and 680i use 100-107W more power at full load than at idle. The 975X uses 141W more at load, P965 139W more, and RD600 105W more.

    IIRC, AMD is using a newer process technology for RD600, so that would help explain their lower overall power. Intel seems to benefit from power savings in idle mode, but at full load they are pretty close to NVIDIA. The extra "stuff" in 680i relative to 650i could easily account for the added ~10W that it requires. Seems to me like all companies involved could do more with chipset power savings. AMD is just ahead on the process tech (again, I think); Intel uses an older process but decent power saving circuitry; NVIDIA doesn't do anything to conserve chipset power.

    When you consider that at idle the PC is doing nothing important, AMD and Intel should drop CPU clocks further (600 MHz ought to be enough), and they could drop FSB/bus speeds and chipset voltages as well. Why run 1066FSB when you're doing essentially nothing? Why run 1000MHz HyperTransport to transfer... nothing? I believe AMD does drop HT speeds at idle on their mobles chips, so why not on desktop offerings?

    Just my two cents.
    Reply
  • WT - Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - link

    Patiently awaiting the Gigabyte version of this board, as I was most interested in upgrading to the 965DS3 board rev 3.3, but the 650 look like it is worth the wait. Also, since the C2D price drop isn't until late April, I have time to wait and make a decision once that board is available. Good read as usual guys ! Reply
  • ghitz - Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - link

    Exactly what I was thinking !! Reply

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