A few months ago, NVIDIA had a banner day announcing the GeForce 8800 video cards and NVIDIA 680 chipset. With the announcement, a few board partners went to produce 680i motherboards. One of the companies to do so is ECS and today we're looking at their 680i SLI board in the ECS PN2 SLI2+.
The ECS PN2 SLI+ motherboard sports the NVIDIA nForce 680i chipset supporting Socket 775 processors including the Core 2 family, Pentium D, Pentium 4, and Celeron D processors. ECS pretty much stuck with the reference design for this board and that's not a bad decision. There a few paths companies can go when producing a motherboard and sticking to a reference design to get the motherboard out in a short amount of time was what ECS decided to do. The layout should be pretty similar to other boards out there. With the previous Extreme boards, ECS had a pretty wild color scheme. Gone are the purples, yellows, and oranges replaced by a black PCB and shades of blue on the ram and PCI-E slots.
The CPU socket area is pretty open and clear of obstructions. What that means is if you plan on using an oversized aftermarket heat sink and fan combination, you should be in pretty good shape and not have to worry about it interfering with components on the motherboard. To two sides of the socket are some capacitors that are passively cooled by heatsinks. The area around the CPU is designed pretty nicely giving you enough room for whatever heatsink you decide to throw at it.
Speaking of cooling you can see the very nice heatpipe solution that ECS has on this motherboard to cool the north and southbridge. A pipe runs from the southbridge to the heatsink that sits on top of the northbridge. If it gets a little too hot for your taste like when you are overclocking, you can attach a fan to the setup. The option of using a fan or keeping it passive is a nice touch. I personally like to keep the fan off and I can see this motherboard going into my HTPC someday because if its quiet nature.
With the motherboard positioned so that back I/O area facing down, four DIMM slots sit just north of the CPU socket. In groups of two, they are color coded so you know which ones to place your memory in for dual-channel configuration. There's a maximum of 8GB of ram you can put in here with speeds from DDR2 400 to DDR2 800 and a few in between.
Just north of the DIMM slots are a few connectors you'll need. First off is the 24-pin power connect to put some juice to the motherboard. To the right of that is your only IDE channel on the motherboard. With more and more storage devices moving to SATA, the lack of an IDE connector isn't a big deal nowadays. I personally only had the DVD writer attached to this board via IDE as the rest of my hard drives were SATA.
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