The Albatron nForce 680i SLI is one of the best mainboards available to date. But the fact is, whether you buy a BFG, eVGA or whatever brand you choose ... it really doesn't matter as these mainboards are all the same. So, therefore you need to be more price aware, and that's definitely where Albatron can win. They stripped less likely to use cables from the box, yet obviously left the mainboard itself 100% intact. Again, these 680i mainboards are all the same so you need to focus on bundle and pricing.
The keyword for the 680i platform is "everything". You can do anything and everything you want up-to the limits of the rest of your components.
But there's one 'though shall not forget', and that's that the success of a good overclock, is a sum of all things. You need the powerful PSU, the overclockable Core 2 Duo processor and the memory that can cope with high FSB's. Last but not least you need to properly cool down your processor. Fact is, that with a reference Intel air cooler (the one you get for free with the CPU) we already achieved a near 3.4 Ghz overclock on a 2.4 GHz processor (E6600). This CPU was purchased 2 weeks ago as there was a rumor that the new C2D processors clock worse.
Well ... with the 680i mainboard it really isn't that bad, is it? That's a full 1 GHz overclock on a dual core processor.
So, while the 680i mainboard itself is not 100% responsible for the pure performance, it does allow the processor to be overclocked as much as it can handle given the circumstances you create for it, it allows the memory to be tweaked and run at insane clocks and it makes sure that the PC has plenty of data bandwidth to do it's thing in. All factors combined make it one of the best and greatest gaming and tweaking platform to date. And that's really quite something.
I do have to state that the 680i is not for everyone, though. You really must be interested in tweaking and overclocking, as otherwise you'll be throwing away money. This mainboard costs top dollar for the tweaking features. So what I'm saying here, is that if you want top notch performance, features, options and tweaking ability, you'll have to pay top dollar, as the 680i mainboards are most certainly not cheap at 210 to 240 USD/EUR.
But, and I've stated this in our reference review as well, look at it from the other side. A good overclock of your system equals ROI - a return of investment. Sure our PC is expensive, but with a reference Intel cooler we have been able to push our Core 2 Duo Conroe E6600 processor from 2.4 Ghz towards 3.4 GHz 100% stable. Now if it even existed, try to imagine how expensive such a processor would be alone. And hey, if you crash the mainboard due to a too high overclock and the PC won't even boot, then after two resets the system automatically detects it and will recover towards safe default clocks. Stuff like that is really excellent; the Albatron 680i SLI is well thought trough piece of gear.
Next to all that tweaking madness you get the nifty RAID features, Linkboost, Mediashield and Dual Gigabit Ethernet. Obviously the one topic that we did not spend time on was SLI. Do not forget that this is the best SLI performing mainboard available. We have been using these mainboards ever since November 2006 and pretty much 95% of the graphics card reviews (including 8800 GTS and GTX SLI) have been tested in this mainboard. Please have a look at these detailed SLI articles if you are interested in that.
The final verdict: If you are a tweaker that plays games on a regular basis, and have some cash to spare, this mainboard is probably the best investment in your PC that money can buy. Albatron 680i SLI is a breathtaking platform. It really is technology done right.
Albatron 680i SLIProduct: mainboard
Price: 229 USD