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DFI NF680i LT: Tips, Tricks, and Known Issues

This article will be an ongoing list of tips, tricks, and known issues related to the DFI NF680i LT motherboard and overclocking the NVIDIA 680i in general.

It is compiled from forums that I frequent. I'll keep this blog post as up to date as I can. Please comment on any further tips, issues, or inaccuracies please!




DFI NF680i Overclocking Tips:

Tony's Overclocking BIOS Guide

Can be found on the TheTechRepository.com.

If you are overclocking a quad-core, then Kris' article on GTL at the TTR is essential reading also.

Note that the GTL reference voltage settings are mis-labeled in BIOS... the three settings are actually for CPU Core 0/1; CPU Core 2/3; and NB. There is some information on the Club Forums as to how the GTL values may translate into real-world values.

Tony and Kris also have a lot of excellent articles on memory overclocking, straps, 1T vs. 2T, GTL, etc. Check them out.

DFI Club NF680i Information

A comprehensive thread with links to a lot of relevant articles and information can be found as a sticky on the DFI Club Forums.

Victor Wang's Overclocking Tips

Victor Wang has done his usual magic, overclocking the boards to Xtreme levels and had these tips to share from his thread on XtremeSystems...

1) Do not disable EBD and VT in cpu feature.
2) NB and PWM must have active cooling, especially when running Quad-Core.
3) When running C2D, you do not have to change the GTL settings.
4) See the thread for info on his GTL and voltage settings.

Cjosephmo's High FSB Overclocking Tips:

Some good tips posted by cjosephmo over on the DFI Club Forums...

I noticed that the difference between BSELECT 6 & 7 (or 350 and 350 cpu strap respectively) is that 6 is locked on 350 and 7 is 350 but also somehow automatically adjusts internal chipset latencies as the fsb rises. 6 does not. You need to use 7 or Auto for fsb's far above 350. I have not been able to boot with anything else.

Voltage changes on the NB change latencies on the chip making RAM and other chipset related things change in performance. I bench 11733 READ in everest with 1.39v NB and 9700~ with 1.30v. The more voltage you give it, the higher it performs. It has still been unnecessary for me to go above 1.42 for stability.

If the board does not post even after a cmos clear, it's usually because you have higher end ram that requires more voltage. You can either mod your bios to default at a higher voltage Or you can try this semi consistant method:
Remove all but one stick of RAM, clear the cmos and upon the first boot, hold the power button for a little bit longer than normal (about 2 seconds). This will usually work for me.

NOTE: On my processor/board BSEL has no effect on performance except that BSEL7 will not boot.

Pedro Rocha's Memory Overclocking Tips

Pedro has some memory bandwidth optimization tips in his mini review on XS...

- Always use yellow slots for much higher bandwith
- If you use the orange slots with 1T you can OC the memory a bit more (5 to 10Mhz) you will loose on bandwith
- At least in the orange slots if you use more than 2.55v real VDim (around 2.67 set in bios) the board will only detected 1 stick of DDR2 (see capture above)
- As always bandwith depenpends on cup multiplier / strap - for my QX6700 the sweat spot seems to be 11x - do some testing with your cpu by comparing everest mem read.

NOTE: I was not able to gain anything by using the yellow slots with my memory. See my related article.




DFI NF680i Tips and Quirks:


BIOS POST Codes

Not sure why this isn't in the manual but the post codes are here on the DFI Club Forums.

Vista and Speed Stepping

With BIOS settings at default, even with C1E disabled, Vista will want to utilize speed stepping to down-clock your CPU when idle. You can stop Vista from doing this by setting your power profile to "High Performance" in Control Panel > Power Options.

Measuring vDimm / vCore

Flytek was kind enough to provide a picture showing the necessary DMM measurement points for vDimm and vCore on this board. Be careful and poke your board with DMM probes at your own risk! The pic can be found in his post on Xtremesystems.

Voltage Accuracy

Using the DMM measurement points above, I measured both CPU VID and VDimm and found that although what you set is NOT what you get, the BIOS readings at the bottom of the Voltage settings screen are accurate.

I also compared NB voltages settings to BIOS readings and found a consistent 0.12V droop at all mid-range NB voltage settings. This is significant as the NB voltage setting is very misleading.

Full measurements can be found near the bottom of this page.

Air Cooling?

Ensure the PWM area is getting good airflow. This has been causing lots of issues for people overclocking.

Jobeo got a Tuniq Tower fitted on his board complete with the audio module and stock NB heat sink (but as he mentions, be sure to fit those components first). See his thread on the DFI Club Forums.

For the NB Heatsink, only use a TINY amount of TIM if any at all. The surface of the silicon is glass smooth and the area is so small that only a pin-head of TIM is really required.

Most agree that the best orientation of the NB heatsink is to mount it such that the upright portion is closest to the CPU stocket instead of the PCIE socket. This ensures the heat pipes terminate directly above the NB chip.

If you are looking for a fan to clip on to the stock NB heatsink... the clips are designed for a 60x60x10+mm fan (a 10mm is a bit too loose and a 15mm is simply too thick to use with the stock clips). Pics and info here on the DFI Club Forums.

More info on air cooling alternatives in this thread at the Club Forums.

Craig from XS has some great tips for mounting the stock NB heatsink:
- Mine must have been stuck on wrong then as my triangle bit was near the PCI-E slot & if you fitted the heatsink tower to PCI-E slot the you ended up with a triple foam pad thickness PCI-E side & double on the CPU side.
- I took my triangle off & tested the board & I then realised the 680 chip is not in the centre of the 4 hook mounting but rather its off centre toward the CPU socket & logically I figured the NB heatsink heatpipe would be better over the chip than off to the side so I rotated the heatsink.
- My temps are way better tower to CPU socket rather than tower to PCI-E.

NOTE: Normal NB Temps while overclocking should be around 50-deg.

Water Cooling

MIPS has an excellent set of water blocks specifically designed for this board.

The Swiftech MCW-30 will also fit on both the SB and NB although tube torque may cause it to perform poorly by tilting the block off the surface of the NB. Be sure to use a shim or at least keep the padded stock shim in place to reduce this as much as possible and avoide having the block short out one of the adjacent surface mount components.

Dimensions for NB and SB Heatsink Retention

If you are considering an aftermarket NB/SB heat sink or water block, The NB uses loops which form a square that is 50x60mm. The MCW-30 will fit on the NB using the supplied wire-clip hooks.

The SB uses push pins which have a center-to-center distance of 53mm. The MCW-30 will also fit on here without interferring with either adjacent x16 PEG slot.

Flashing BIOS

It's important to note that you should NOT load previous bios settings from CMOS Reloaded after flashing the BIOS. The old settings may not map to the new BIOS correctly resulting in unwanted effects and possible damage. Make sure you copy your favorite settings down before flashing so you can reset them.

At this time, Winflash does not work on Vista x64. It throws an error saying "Onboard BIOS not Award BIOS".

You can flash the BIOS using a floppy or using a bootable USB flash stick. If using a USB flash stick, be sure to edit the autoexec.bat file that accompanies the BIOS file and flash utility to set (or simply remove) the drive/path reference to AWDFLASH.

Board Shutting Off? Possible reasons why...

There is an automatic temperature shutdown feature in BIOS called "Shutdown Temperature" under the PC Health Status section of BIOS. This temperature corresponds to the first temperature reported by Speedfan (Temp1). If this temperature reaches the value set in BIOS, the board will shut itself off. You may misinterpret this as a crash... this is not the case!

I've found with my quad-core at high OC while stress testing with small FFT's that I can easily hit the default BIOS shutdown temperature after 5-10 minutes. Simply increasing it a notch or disabiling it while stress testing is all that's needed. Be sure to set it back later so you can protect your CPU from damage.

In the 521 Beta BIOS this option is disabled by default.

Other reasons for the board shutting off under load that have been confirmed by others include:
- Having SB Voltage over 1.74V was the cause of repeated shutdowns after 20+ minutes of PRIME by C-N on XS
- Lack of adequate cooling on the PWM heatsink has been known to cause hard shutdowns under severe loads. Ensure that your CPU heat sink is not significantly warping the motherboard causing the PWM heat sink to loose contact with the underlying components... either add some additional TIM, thermal pads, or ideally get a backplate if you are using an aftermarket cooler.

Monitoring Voltages/Temps

BIOS, Speedfan, and SmartGaurdian all pull monitoring values from the ITE SuperIO Chip the IT8712F which includes voltages and a few temps (CPU, NB, and SB).

Note that the temp in BIOS called "PWM Area" is mislabled... this is actually the NB temp. This has been fixed in the 521 Beta BIOS.

The CPU temp pulled from the IO chip should not be trusted... CoreTemp is the best source of true CPU temps. Both Everest and Speedfan also pull the same data from the same registers as CoreTemp so you can use Speedfan or Everest to do the same thing. With Speedfan, you simply need to add a 15-deg C offset to the reported values to make them match with Coretemp (it's built-in offset is not correct but the values from the registers are).

Speedfan can see Vcore, the HT Voltage, and the NB Voltage but initially displays them as Vcore1, Vcore2, and 3.3V... simply rename them with the proper labels.

Unfortunatly Speedfan current doesn't seem to report the VDimm or SB Voltage, but not a big deal. It also can't control the fans which is a shame... you need SmartGaurdian for that (why is it so damn ugly!).

SmartGuardian's "Chipset" is actually the NB temp while "System" is the SB temp.

Hopefully a future version of Speedfan will offer more comprehensive monitoring of this board. I've logged an issue with the developer of Speedfan.




General 680i Overclocking Guides:

EVGA 680i Overclocking Guide

Although the DFI boad is completely different from the EVGA product, this article may have some relevant information for you as background if nothing else.

It can be found here on the EVGA forums.

This guide was compiled by a Danish fellow affiliated with www.hwt.dk known around XS as Illuminati.

680i RAM Timings Guide

Illuminati also compiled this excellent RAM Timings guide for 680i overclockers... available on XtremeSystems.org or on the EVGA forums. Again, this guide was crafted with the EVGA board in mind, but the information may be relevant for DFI boards as well.

Kunnak's ASUS 680i Tips, Glitchs, Things to Know and More

This article is also based on a board other than the DFI, in this case the ASUS P5N32-E SLI, and may also be of limited use to DFI owners. At any rate, some information here may be relevant.

Found on XtremeSystems.org.

Installing Vista x64 with 4GB of RAM:

A lot of people (including those with EVGA boards) report having trouble with BSOD during Vista x64 installation with 4GB of RAM. This happened to me also. It turns out this is an issue with Vista and there is a patch available. More info is available in MS KB article 929777. A work around is to remove memory from the board so you have 2GB or less when installing Vista x64, then apply the patch after installation before adding back your additional RAM.

Kudo's to "nugzo" on XS for pointing this out.




DFI NF680i LT Issues:

If anyone has solutions or work-arounds for these, please comment.

On-Board RAID

There may be a problem with RAID performance (with this board and/or 680I chipsets in general). It needs to be tested by more people before we can conclude anything, but Raju's initial test was not showing great performance. Something appears to be limiting throughput.

Enermax Galaxy PSU

One person could not post with the Enermax Galaxy 1000W PSU (EGX1000EWL). Confirmation here. At least one other person has had no problems with this PSU and board combination.

UPDATE: It appears the 4+4 connector is the one to use... the 8-pin ATX connector can cause a no-post condition as reported on XtremeSystems.

nTune

Currently nTune is not able to read a variety of voltages and some system bus information from this board.

Temperature Monitoring

Currently only CoreTemp can be trusted. There are apparently issues with SmartGuardian and even DFI's own BIOS reading. Everest works but the values are labeled incorrectly. Since Speedfan also supports CoreTemp you can use it (although it will require offset adjustments as noted below).

Speedfan

See monitoring above.

Speedfan's core temperatures need to be corrected by 15-deg. C to match CoreTemp.

Speedfan does not report the CPU fan speed correctly. It also does not report other fan's correctly, nor can it control fans (use SmartGuardian for fan control).

The temperatures reported by Speedfan are in this order: CPU (?), NB, SB, ACPI (useless), Core Temps. Voltages are (in order) Vcore, HT, NB, and then as labeled.

WinFlash

At this time, Winflash does not work in Vista x64. It throws an error saying "Onboard BIOS not Award BIOS".

GTL BIOS Settings

Note that the GTL reference voltage settings are mis-labeled in BIOS... the three settings are actually for CPU Core 0/1; CPU Core 2/3; and NB. There is some information on the Club Forums as to how the GTL values may translate into real-world values.

Processor Multi

Prior to the 521 Beta Bios there is no option to adjust multi's on non-extreme quads or access multi's above 10 on extreme processors. This has been fixed in the 521 Beta BIOS... Use 2CTST for non-extreme processors (including Q6600) and the 4CTST for all extreme processors.

BIOS Voltage Settings

I've found that the BIOS voltage settings (particularly at more extreme values) consistently undervolt significantly. For example, setting CPU VID to 1.60V in BIOS will actually translate to 1.53V. Setting NB Core to 1.6V results in 1.47V. Don't just assume that what you set is what you get.

Check out this screen shot for an example of what I mean.

Update: I compared NB voltages settings to BIOS readings and found a consistent 0.12V undervolt at all mid-range NB voltage settings.

Here are my full measurements:

CPU VID:

BIOS...
Set: 1.6000V
BIOS Reading: 1.53V
Fluke DMM: 1.54V

Windows (Idle)...
Speedfan/SmartGuardian: 1.55V
Fluke DMM: 1.56V

Windows (PRIME Small FFT)...
Speedfan/SmartGuardian: 1.49V
Fluke DMM: 1.50V

Overall, BIOS readings and Speedfan/SmartGaurdian are close enough to actual Voltages to consider them legit.

VDimm:

Set: 2.34V
BIOS: 2.27V
SmartGaurdian: 2.27
DMM: 2.28V

Again, BIOS readings are close to actual. Droop under load is about 0.01V.

NB:

Since I don't have a DMM measurement point for the NB, I just checked a variety of settings and BIOS/SmartGuardian readings...

Set / Get

1.60 / 1.47
1.57 / 1.45
1.54 / 1.42
1.51 / 1.39
1.48 / 1.37

There is a consistent undervolt of 0.12V on the NB... If the BIOS reading is correct (as it was with Vcore and Vdimm above) then this is very misleading... keep this in mind when overclocking to a high FSB.


High VDimm after CMOS Jumper Clear

One user on XS has fried his RAM and board after clearing CMOS using the jumper... it came back from CMOS clear with VDimm at 3.04V. People have had consistent success using the reset/power switch to clear CMOS rather than the jumper. Perhaps using this technique can help save BIOS issues like this. YMMV.

CPU Throttling even with C1E disabled

If you are experiencing C1E throttling with your CPU, and have C1E and power profiles disabled (Vista) then you may want to check out this thread at DFI Club as the problem is still open as of the last update to this blog post.



BIOS Change Log:

This is a list of BIOS changes that have been reported informally by users.

BIOS 521

Moved to non-BETA status on June 6th. The 2CTST version should be used with all non-extreme processors (including Q6600) while the 4CTST version should be used with Extreme processors.

PC Health and Status:
- Temperature shutdown defaults to disabled
- NB Temp correctly labeled
- New option for CPU temp offset

FSB:
- Multi option is now available for both non-extreme quads and extreme processors.

No performance improvements have been reported with this BIOS.



Helpful Links:

DFI:

NVIDIA:

Forums:

Other Resources:


Hey man whats up =). Great work here! This mobo is so quirky. This collection of information you have here is excellent. Its proving extremely valuable to me as I try to get this e6850 stable on this thing. You mind if I ask some questions about your findings?

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