Some of you may feel that it is the fault of abit engineers, that they are taking too much time to correct bugs and release BIOS updates. It could be partially true, but we shouldn’t be so critical in this case. A lot of issues can be blamed on the Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset that is used for this board. In off-the-record conversations mainboard makers complain that the chipset characteristics differ too greatly between different units. A great example is our Asus Striker Extreme review. The first mainboard sample didn’t allow overclocking CPUs beyond 449MHz FSB, the second one turned out better, but in some cases you can come across on the Web users describe their boards going beyond 500MHz.
Some of you probably remember the SATA controller issues on reference nForce 680i SLI based mainboards. Suppose the chipset has nothing to do with it, but this is not just a single case. When issues with overclocking Kentsfield processors surfaced, eVGA Company, for instance, announced that they would replace the first mainboard revisions with new ones. Another observation concerns the remark on Nvidia’s web-site saying that the well-advertised LinkBoost technology has been removed from the specifications of the Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset. Has it been also caused by some stability issues? Moreover, the “stepped” performance we have discussed today in our detailed investigation is also hardly an advantage.
I have to admit that Nvidia nForce 680i SLI doesn’t look like an acute replacement for the Intel solutions. On the contrary, everything we know so far about the issues with mainboards built around this chipset indicates that this is not a very reliable solution.
As for the hero of our today’s review, abit IN9 32X-MAX Wi-Fi mainboard, there are advantages and drawbacks, as always. Great PCB layout, excellent BIOS functionality, but at the same not very successful overclocking results for as little as $350 or so. Time to think…