Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Motherboard: Zeb 650i Sli

ZEBRONICS – known for their cabinets and SMPS, also have on offer other components. Of these is a select set of motherboards, one of which is the ZEB 650i SLI. As the name suggests, it employs an Nvidia 650i SLI chipset, supporting all 775 socket CPUs of Intel, including quad core processors. This board makes for a sensible investment if you are going the Intel route.


Compared to other motherboards that employ the 650i chipset, this Zebronics is only slightly slower. For example, to complete WorldBench 5.0's multitasking test, this Zeb 650i SLI took 305 seconds, while the MSI P6N SLI, the fastest 650i based motherboard, did the task in 287 seconds. The Zebronics is slower by 6 percent. This difference comes down by half – 3 percent slower in the Office XP component of WorldBench 5.0.

A test run of DOOM 3 with an Asus 7900GT graphics card showed that gaming performance has not taken any hit. It is in fact on par with Intel's new P35 chipset based boards, having managed 227 fps at 800x600 resolution and low quality settings.


SLI capability will keep gaming enthusiasts happy, giving them the option of adding a second identical video card at a later time. In fact, this board has three PCIe slots, with two of them marked as x8 for SLI operation and one of them being full x16 speed compatible. Of course, you can use any slot for a single card as well, as full x16 PCIe bandwidth is hardly utilized. A PCIe x1 and two PCI slots are also included.

It is good to see 2 IDE channels which give greater flexibility in connecting older hard disks or optical drives. A total of five SATA ports give ample room for adding hard disks, but sadly there is no RAID support. This is disappointing, given the fact that this is an SLI board and enthusiasts would want to have the option of RAID, with hard drive prices falling.

USB ports on the rear panel are four in number, with two more headers on the board. This gives you a total of eight USB ports, while the packaging claims ten. Similarly, Zebronics touts dual Gigabit LAN – while there is only one LAN port. Strangely, there was no SLI bracket included in the box – something that is supplied with almost every SLI motherboard.

Other features include 8-channel audio, coaxial S/PDIF and eSATA. The back panel also includes an LCD that shows two character codes to indicate the motherboard status or error messages. Unfortunately, there is no documentation of what the error codes mean. A COM port also finds presence on the rear panel, which is surprising as this interface is almost obsolete. Another USB port in its place would have made more sense.


At Rs 5,000, the ZEB 650i SLI offers excellent value for money. Performance is on par with other 650i SLI based motherboards; it offers decent expandability and is SLI capable. It has its shortcomings though – no RAID and poor documentation. At this budget however, buyers will find these excusable. If you are not after established brands in the motherboard business, the ZEB 650i is a good buy.

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