ECS PN2 SLI2+ (NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI)


ECS PN2 SLI2+ Examined

Features

If you've read our Biostar TF680i SLI Deluxe review, you would have known the features and design of the ECS PN2 SLI2+ as well. Both boards are identical in terms of features and components, though we will run though its features as a refresher.

Sporting the new nForce 680i SLI chipset, the PN2 SLI2+ is an extremely packed motherboard with seven expansion slots in all, two regular PCI, two PCIe x1 and triple PCIe x16 graphics slots native to the nForce 680i SLI chipset. The two black PCIe x16 slots are designed for full speed SLI configurations, while the middle blue PCIe x16 slot operates at a fixed x8 bandwidth to accommodate a third graphics card. This guarantees the most elaborate NVIDIA graphics performance configuration available for the Intel platform. Of course, that same sentiment can be said for all nForce 680i SLI motherboards as well.

NVIDIA's capable MediaShield controller features six SATA 3.0Gbps ports with RAID 5 and eSATA support. While the board has no available eSATA ports on its own, ECS bundles an eSATA bracket just in case you need one. Dual Marvell 88E1116 Gigabit Ethernet PHYs enable the onboard NVIDIA DualNet features and provide the PN2 SLI2+ with a robust networking support.

The PN2 SLI2+ is further supported by a Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A FireWire-400 controller also promises a high-end eight channel HD Audio solution with the Realtek ALC885 CODEC, supporting full rate lossless audio hardware decryption from the latest Blu-ray and HD DVD titles.

Layout

The few faults that we first identified with the Biostar TF680i SLI Deluxe remains on the ECS PN2 SLI2+, so users should best be ready to deal with slightly messy cabling if you have a smaller chassis or more than a few hard disk drives. The debug LED is always a good thing, but you can almost forget about the power/reset buttons once you've mounted the board since they will probably be hidden below the bottom PCI slot. Otherwise, the PN2 SLI2+ is a very impressive motherboard with given consideration for expansion and memory placement.

Overclocking

  • FSB Settings: 100MHz to 625MHz (400MHz to 2500MHz QDR Mode)
  • DDR Settings: DDR2-400MHz to 1400MHz
  • PCIe 1/2/3 (GPU lanes) Frequency: 100MHz to 200MHz
  • SPP/MCP HT: 200 to 500MHz
  • SPP/MCP LDT Frequency: 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x (default)
  • CPU Voltage Settings: 1.22500V to 1.60000V (in 0.00625V steps)
  • Memory Voltage Settings: 1.80V to 2.50V (in 0.025V steps)
  • CPU FSB Settings: 1.2V to 1.5V (in 0.1V steps)
  • MCP Voltage Settings: 1.50V to 1.75V (in 0.025V steps)
  • SPP Voltage Settings: 1.20V to 1.55V (in 0.05V steps)
  • HT Voltage Settings: 1.20V to 1.55V (in 0.05V steps)
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (CPU dependent)

Now, we move on to the million-dollar question; Are all NVIDIA OEM boards alike? In terms of overclocking at least, it seems not. Our efforts to overclock the ECS PN2 SLI2+ did not go as smooth as the Biostar TF680i SLI Deluxe and we were unable to match the 491MHz FSB previously achieved. Using the same settings, hardware and stock cooling that was previously used on the Biostar, we only managed to hit 462MHz, fully stable. After this point, no amount of added voltage or reduced timings would improve its stability and at 470MHz, the board refused to POST.