Nvidia's nForce 680i LT SLI motherboard

Cutting costs with a new reference design

NVIDIA LAUNCHED ITS NFORCE 680i SLI chipset late last year, and it arrived in style on a motherboard designed and made by Nvidia itself. New chipsets often debut on reference motherboard, but those boards are typically meant as validation vehicles for the chipset and as design guides for mobo makers; they don't have the polish one would expect from retail products. With the 680i SLI, however, Nvidia set out to build a reference design not only polished enough for retail, but robust enough to satiate overclockers and enthusiasts.

They succeeded, too. Nvidia's nForce 680i SLI reference design was rebadged and sold essentially as-is by the likes of Biostar, BFG, ECS, and EVGA. We were impressed by the board, particularly its ability to hit extremely high front-side bus speeds and to fully exploit the features and extras inherent to the nForce 680i SLI chipset.

The nForce 680i SLI's only lingering problem has been the cost of the platform—boards based on Nvidia's reference design typically run about $250, and custom boards from other partners can cost upwards of $300. Today, Nvidia is lowering the cost of entry into the 680i fraternity with the launch of the nForce 680i LT SLI chipset. Like its older brother, the LT arrives on an Nvidia-designed retail motherboard. This time, though, boards are expected to sell for $200 or less.

What has Nvidia cut from the 680i SLI to slide this latest LT design under the $200 mark? How does the board fare as a result? Is this Nvidia's homage to Lawrence Taylor? Read on to find out.

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