1. if you have a *big* Video Card (such as EVGA 8800GTS/X) in a PCIEx16 slot, will it block you from using an adjacent PCI/PCIE slot? I need to be sure that I will be able to fit everything I need on the board and can plan for space/arrangement.
2. What are the differences between nForce 650i and 680i chipsets? I want a technical answer here, not "it's a better value" or "it isn't worth the money."
3. What motherboard would you recommend, given the following requirements?:
* MUST be ATX Form Factor
* MUST be sturdy and reliable. I plan to keep it for several years.
* MUST have AT MINIMUM 2 PCI slots and 2 PCIEx16 slots.
* 3 PCI slots are preferred, as would be another PCIE slot.
* MUST be an nVIDIA 650i or 680i chipset and SLI-ready
* MUST have AT MINIMUM 6 Internal SATA and 1 PATA/IDE.
* 7+ SATA is better.
* MUST have SATA RAID Controller with RAID1/0/0+1.
* RAID5 is a big plus if it has 7+ SATA, JBOD would be nice, but not really necessary.
* MUST be Socket 775, and support both Intel Dual and Quad Core Processors.
* MUST be overclockable.
* The Easier it is to overclock, the better.
* Should have a good Northbridge heatsink that is parallel with front-back airflow.
* it would be nice if it wasn't an eye-bleeder and had an aesthetic color scheme, since it will be going in a case with a window.
* The More USB, the Merrier.
* Value is nice, but Performance is more important, and anything under $300 is acceptable. Please no suggestions of "Well, it doesn't meet your requirements, but this is cheaper!"
My current cooling setup is a CoolerMaster CM Stacker Full Tower with 3x 120mm fans in front, 1x 120mm fan in back, 1x 80mm fan on top, the CrossFlow fan, and a Zalman 9700 CPU Cooler.
These are some motherboards I've been considering, but am unsure as to the usability and reliability. I'd like feedback from people who have had experience with them:
Newegg.com - XFX MB-N680-ISH 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Intel Quad Core Ready Motherboard NEW A+ REVISION - Retail
($199.99 after Rebates) Note the perpendicular Northbridge heatsink... definately not ideal. Also, reviews are sketchy....
Newegg.com - ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
($209.99 with Instant Discount) Again questionable Northbridge cooling, and bad NewEgg reviews.
Newegg.com - ABIT IN9 32X-MAX LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
($279.99 with Instant Discount) Still not sure about that Northbridge, but at least it's bigger... expensive.
Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-N680SLI-DQ6 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
($248.99 with Instant Discount) Chipset Heatsink right behind the CPU, where the CPU cooler will be blowing hot air. Also, ugly.
Newegg.com - DFI LP UT NF680I LT SLI-T2 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
($279.99 with Instant Discount) Something about cooling complications... could I fit the Zalman on there? Looks nice otherwise...
Newegg.com - ASUS Striker Extreme LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX The Ultimate Gaming Motherboard - Retail
($329.99) Too Expensive... but could probably be persuaded if it's worth it.
Thanks in advance.