Nvidia has been really busy the last year and a half. Up until about four years ago, Nvidia was simply known for its GPUs, taking the 3D market by storm, not only managing to defeat 3Dfx as the top contender for the graphics accelerator market, but also staying steps ahead of companies like ATI and S3.
Now we come to the battle between AMD and Intel during the Athlon Socket A era. Intel had finally dropped the ball when it came to the CPU race. Sure some of AMD's past CPUs were questionable, but nothing was available on the market to really challenge those Thoroughbred CPUs, Athlon XP was what really gave Intel a giant scare, and Nvidia took notice of this. nForce 2 chipsets came out only supporting AMD processors, not a single Intel based Nvidia chipset was available.
It was not until nForce 4 made it to market that we saw any Intel based Nvidia chips, and even this was not really pushed hard. Whether there was internal pressure from Intel on Nvidia for a chipset for the Pentium 4 series or Nvidia wanted to get SLI graphics cards into the P4 market is not clear, but nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition did not last long. In fact there were only two versions, twin x8 slots or twin x16 slots while nForce 4 for AMD also had budget versions and integrated graphics versions, none of these were available for Intel.
Nvidia also only released one chipset in its nForce 500 series for Intel, however, since it was based on the older, poorly overclocking nForce 4 SPP northbridge, Nvidia quickly dumped 500 series for Intel, which gave birth to nForce 600i series chipsets. Today there are four chipsets in the 600i series, 680i SLI, 680i LT SLI, 650i SLI and 650i Ultra in order from high-end to value.
nForce 680i SLI while offering the best features and performance also costs an arm and a leg for just the board, leaving little in the budget for a high-end CPU. Nvidia has however come to the rescue with a slightly cut down version of the 680i SLI, the LT SLI series.
Today we are testing out XFX's offering of the 680i LT SLI chipset. Can a manufacturer of graphics cards cut it in the motherboard world? Let us see how it compares to a similar board from the likes of DFI.