Today we are taking a look at a new low-cost entry in the gaming motherboard
sweepstakes - EVGA's nForce 650i Ultra. With a starting price point of $99, this motherboard may
be the ticket for a budget-minded single-GPU system for Intel processors.
With experience using the nForce 650i chipset since January, I have found stability to be one of the platforms strong points. Although lacking in high FSB capability, the nForce 650i is an acceptable overclocker. So far
the stability and overclocking capability of 3.0GHz and above, based on system components, I enter this review with a positive attitude.
One word comes to mind when stepping back and looking at the nForce 650i Ultra motherboard - bare! The Northbridge (NB) heatsink dominates the 12 by 9.6 inch green circuit board as a massive black aluminum finned block located near the center of the motherboard. Large, as it should be, to cool the C55 SPP chipset, but potentially an obstacle for large aftermarket coolers. There is plenty of room around the CPU socket with sufficiently short capacitors and the memory DIMM slots are well
out of the way. All in all I see no problems from this view.
EVGA nForce 650i Ultra
Looking at the motherboard from a modder's perspective there are some things that
I really like. For one, the motherboard has x16 PCI-Express capability supplied by the NF-430 (C51 MCP) chipset, which is not
the latest and greatest, but for the price, I don't think that it can be beat
if it performs like it should.
The main and auxiliary ATX power connections are
positioned out of the way and the power cables should not pose any interference.
The NB passive heatsink can be replaced by an active unit if needed, or a fan added,
and most aftermarket coolers should fit the CPU socket with no problem. The Southbridge (SB) chipset just needs a small aluminum heatsink and can be attached with
an adhesive thermal pad or with the use of pins of the right size as the board is
already pre-drilled for them. This board kinda'
reminds me of a rolling chassis ready for prepping for race day.
EVGA nForce 650i Ultra
Looking at the positioning of the motherboard in the case, you can see the
interesting positioning of the battery near the bottom of the motherboard. The battery has
its own socket holder, which provides easy access. However, we are back to clearing the CMOS with the blue jumper located directly above the BIOS chip. Next to the battery is the floppy (FDD) port and the front panel color-coded power connections.
Above this area are four SATA ports and a lone IDE port. Further up is the 24-pin ATX main power connector, which is positioned well as is the 8-pin auxiliary power
connector near the top left corner of the motherboard. These are the best positions
for the power connectors for those who want to keep their wiring out of sight as
well as maintaining an unrestricted flow of air. However, I will be using the Antec P180 case
where the PSU is located at the bottom of the case and the 8-pin ATX auxiliary power connector has a long run to make a connection.