We have reviewed quite a few nForce 680i SLI boards, but many are built on the same core Nvidia design. Even though the boards are expensive, the nForce 680i SLI has become the de-facto product for those wanting SLI and an Intel Core 2 processor.
Even though there are boards from Abit, Asus, DFI and Foxconn that don't follow the Nvidia design, many of Nvidia's motherboard partners do and since this same BIOS applies to a vast majority of rebranded boards there should be a fair few people thinking of applying it.
There was a quite a bit of noise made about the P30 BIOS on the nForce 680i chipset, with specific optimisations made for general performance, memory and overclocking (including quad-core overclocking), we had to find out if this nine month old chipset has had a shot in the arm.
Specific improvements in the P30 are as follows:
Improved overclocking for Kentsfield 1333 FSB CPUs
Additional 1333 FSB Support for future CPUs
Fixes intermittent S3 Resume bug
Improve S3 resume functionality
USB flash key functionality improvements
Overclocking and memory improvements
WHQL-related HPET fixes
Quad-Core OC Improvements
Additional support for 1333MHz CPUs
Wireless PCI card fixes
Vreg fan header default set to on
Memory performance improvements
Vista WHQL Certified
USB Floppy improvements for RAID installs
Correct CPU temp and voltage system monitor displays in BIOS
Correct default CPU multiplier setting
Fix "Code 50" hang received under certain VGA configurations
Fix for SATA disk drives
Improvements to memory stability and overclockability
Disabled spread spectrum tables for improved overclockability
Improve POST screen CPU speed reporting
Improves X-Fi and internal audio functionality
WHQL Certified BIOS
Improvements to overclocking
Enhancements for quad-core CPUs
Adds ability to enable splash screen
So there’s not just one improvement to overclocking, there’s apparently four improvements. It doesn’t stop there because the P30 also features two doses of memory improvements, two 1333MHz FSB improvements and two quad-core/Kentsfield overclocking improvements. Nvidia seems unable to do things singularly or even in odd numbers. Maybe the company works in pairs?
Sarcasm at Nvidia’s (and EVGA’s) overzealous update list aside, there seems to be a lot more noise than the usual compatibility fixes and new CPU support updates. What is interesting, and slightly worrying is the specific fix for: "Correct CPU temp and voltage system monitor displays in BIOS". So, is this implying that it's been wrong since release?
They look the same on the surface but by how much can a BIOS improve a system performance and overclockability? In order to find out, we threw in a couple of CPUs into both an Inno3D nForce 680i with an original P23 BIOS, which includes the (now removed) LinkBoost feature, and a a couple of P30-based nForce 680i SLI boards from EVGA and XFX.