DFI LANParty UT NF680i LT SLI-T2R nForce 680i LT

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DFI's 680i LT SLI board uses a custom black PCB, but still follows the basic layout of most nForce 600-series motherboards, fitting in a standard ATX form factor design. Upon first glance, we can notice a definite emphasis on cooling as many items which are typically left un-cooled have small heatsinks attached whereas the Southbridge features a large copper cooler.

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Board Angle - Bottom

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Board Angle - Top

Interestingly enough, DFI ships this motherboard without the Northbridge cooler attached. When you take the motherboard out of the box, you see the bare, clean nForce 680i LT Northbridge looking right back at you. The board was packaged in this way because the custom designed cooling system which DFI bundles with this motherboard is extremely tall, and packaging this component in a separate box allows the overall product to be smaller in volume. While you can put on the bundled cooling system if you wish, this also gives you direct access to install a third party cooling system should you so desire.

The custom DFI Northbridge cooler is a strange beast, although it's quite easy to install and is highly efficient. The cooler locks on to four metal latches on the motherboard and features a multi-tiered aluminum alloy heatsink system. In addition, jetting out from the sides of the cooler are two heatpipes, which move additional heat up to a series of aluminum alloy thin-fins for dissipation. When attached, the cooler is almost identical in height to a PCI Express graphics card, making it one of the tallest stock chipset coolers we've seen to date. The bonus here is that the hot-running 680i LT chipset can be cooled in a silent and fanless fashion, whereas the reference 680i LT SLI motherboard uses a noisy active cooling system. DFI includes a small tube of thermal paste and instructions on how to install the system, which took a grand total of about ten seconds.

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Custom Northbridge Cooler - Bottom

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Custom Northbridge Cooler - Side

DFI has kept the area surrounding the Socket-775 processor socket amazingly clean, allowing for large coolers to be installed without issue. The board supports all modern Socket-775 processors, including newer quad-core and 1333 MHz FSB processors. The board also supports up to 8 GB of DDR2-800 (and slower) memory over 4 x DDR2 DIMM sockets. The board does support EPP/SLI branded memory modules with auto-configuration capabilities as well. The DIMM sockets are color coded in orange and yellow, matching other onboard components.

If you'll look closely, you'll see hetsinks everywhere on this motherboard. I'll take a quick moment to point them out to you. There is a copper heatsink between the CPU socket and I/O panel over VRM modules, where there are four additional aluminum heatsinks sitting around various hotspots on the motherboard. One is located to the left of the Northbridge, another located beneath the primary PCI Express x16 slot. There are two additional heatsinks located to the right of the DDR2 DIMM sockets, sitting next to the IDE port and 24-pin primary ATX power connector. We have no problem with additional heatsinks onboard, although one issue is that they sometimes make connecting tight-fitting plugs into the motherboard troublesome. In particular, the motherboard's 8-pin secondary ATX connector sits between the I/O panel and a copper heatsink, which is difficult to attach at times.

The 680i LT's Southbridge (MCP55) is cooled by a large copper heatsink, which is cooled by an active 3-pin fan. The cooler is short enough that PCI Express x16 cards can hang over it, although the cooler does add trace amounts of noise due to the fact that it is fan-based. The cooler is, however, highly effective at removing Southbridge-created heat.

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Copper Southbridge Cooler

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Expansion Slots

DFI is making the most of the 680i LT, delivering two PCI Express x16 graphics card slots (SLI ready) along with additional PCI Express x8 and x4 slots. The PCI Express x8 slot is housed in a x16 connector, meaning this slot can be used for a third graphics card or full-sized PCIe device, although it will not receive full x16 bandwidth. The board is also equipped with three 32-bit PCI slots, which gives this board one of the most flexible (and colorful) expansion configurations of any nForce 600-series motherboard to date.

Tags:  nforce, sli, LAN, party, force, art, 680, RT, AR

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