It has been six months since NVIDIA announced their new 500 series chipsets. This past May the launch coincided with the release of AM2. Today NVIDIA launches a new chipset family, called the 600i family, with no mention at all of AMD and a launch date to coincide with the new Intel Core 2 Quad (Kentsfield).

Perhaps these two events, set just six months apart, best define the dramatic shifts that have occurred in the enthusiast market during this time. AMD was undisputed performance leader for the past couple of years, and enthusiasts didn't much care about Intel chipsets. With the launch of Core 2, however, the enthusiast world changed. Today Core 2 Duo and Quad are the undisputed performance leaders and AMD is once again the "value" chip. This will likely change again in the future, but for now Intel Core 2 is clearly the processor enthusiasts are demanding.

Of course, that has been the problem for NVIDIA. Where their 590/570/550 family was just great with AMD processors, their Intel variants left a lot to be desired. NVIDIA is a company that proclaims loudly its support of the enthusiast, and it had to be embarrassing that the NVIDIA chipsets for Intel were also the worst overclocking chipsets in the market. NVIDIA needs credibility as a provider of enthusiast chipsets in order to sell their top-end SLI to Intel buyers, since Intel has supported the competitor's ATI CrossFire as their multi-GPU standard. Features of nForce 590 looked great, but the overclocking performance, or rather the lack of it, kept enthusiasts away from the 500 series for Intel.

In addition, in the past 6 months AMD bought ATI, NVIDIA's major competitor in graphics. NVIDIA had become the leading supplier of chipsets for motherboards supporting the AMD processor, and with ATI moving to AMD that market position was now in jeopardy. ATI also had competent chipsets for AM2, and everyone expected AMD to make good use of those capabilities in the future.

What had been the minor annoyance of not having a good enthusiast chipset for Intel's Core 2 Duo quickly became a major problem for NVIDIA. The enthusiast was now buying Intel processors instead of AMD, their major competitor was now part of their largest customer in the chipset market, and the world's largest supplier of chipsets for Core 2 Duo - Intel themselves - was supporting the ATI CrossFire multi-GPU solution. NVIDIA needed a new product for the Intel Socket 775 that would excite the enthusiast enough to buy NVIDIA for Intel, increase NVIDIA's market share in the Intel chipset market, and provide a superior platform for SLI on Intel.

That product launches today in the NVIDIA 600i chipset family. The "i" is for Intel, and for now the 600 family is only available for the Intel Socket 775. (Future NVIDIA chipsets for the AMD platform will be named with a small "a" following the number.) The family will include some value boards and a top-end 680i that claims incredible overclocking on Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors. The new chipset also delivers dual x16 SLI to the Intel platform in a board NVIDIA is confident enthusiasts will want to own.

NVIDIA cut their teeth in the AMD market, but the Intel chipset market is a much more ambitious target. In the past AMD was only a minor player in the AMD chipset market, but Intel is the largest supplier of chipsets for their own socket 775 processors. Intel also has a long and impressive history of innovations in the chipset market. Intel chipsets are widely regarded as the top performers in almost any category supporting Intel processors. This is a very different market than the AMD platform NVIDIA targeted and conquered. With ATI now part of AMD, with current AMD chipsets moving toward the value category, and with the enthusiast buying Intel processors, the desire to target the Intel market is logical. However, as NVIDIA quickly found out with the 500 family for Intel, they must have the goods to persuade buyers to choose NVIDIA instead of Intel.

The real question then is whether the 680i and the 600i chipset family are the best available in the Intel market. If we believe NVIDIA marketing the answer is a resounding yes. Does the 680i live up to all the advance hype? We hope to provide answers to that question.

Features: nForce 600i Platform


View All Comments

  • davidos - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    Great Review... When can we expect the cheaper 650 boards? Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, November 10, 2006 - link


    Great Review... When can we expect the cheaper 650 boards?

    December for 650i SLI and January for 650i Ultra.
  • jackylman - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    Why no power consumption tests? I mean, we know the NFurnace is a power hog, but numbers would be nice.

    A review from another site has the NFurnace consuming about 25W more at idle than a P965. Buy one now and save on your heating oil bill!
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    The upcoming 8800 review reports power consumption of the 8800 on the 680i. We figure a 680i with 8800 SLI and phyics processor should draw enough power to light San Jose :-) ALL the first DX10 video cards will likely require huge amounts of power.

    We will compare 975x, 965, and 680i chipset on power consumption and add it to the review later this evening.
  • jackylman - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    Awesome, thank you! Reply
  • Gary Key - Sunday, November 12, 2006 - link


    I decided to run the power tests with a typical high-end setup in a case. We are still working on getting down to the board level properly but these numbers should give you a good indication of the results to date.

    X6800, 2GB Memory, 8800GTX, 2 Optical drives, 2 320GB Hard Drives, USB Floppy, Cooler Master Stacker 830 case with 4 120mm Fans, Tuniq 120 Cooler, SB X-FI.

    Idle - Power Savings Off

    680i SLI - 242W
    590SLI - 236W
    975X - 221W
    P965 - 218W

    Full Load -

    680i SLI - 324W
    590SLI - 331W
    975X - 313W
    P965 - 309W

    We should have some overclocking and SLI numbers by the end of the week.
  • gramboh - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    Been waiting for this chipset/mainboards to come out for a while, might finally be time for C2D build (with G80!)

    Thanks for the review.
  • BladeVenom - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    Nice review. Any idea as to when these should start to shop up at retailers? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    The EVGA boards are supposed to go on sale today. We have reports they were on the shelves at Frys last night.

    nVidia says partner boards will be available beginning today, and ODM boards should start appearing in early December.
  • hubajube - Wednesday, November 8, 2006 - link

    They're on sale at Newegg right now. $270. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now