Nvidia’s nForce 780i SLI chipset

If you want to combine one of Intel’s swanky new 45nm processors with an SLI multi-GPU graphics configuration, there’s a problem. You see, while nForce 600-series chipsets are compatible with Intel’s latest Penryn-based CPUs, current motherboard implementations are not. The incompatibility runs deeper than what can be addressed with a simple BIOS update, as well—a board-level circuit change is required.

Motherboard makers could respin their nForce 600-series designs with the necessary changes, but the nForce 600 series is more than a year old now, so it’s due for a refresh anyway. That refresh comes in the form of the nForce 700 series, led by the flagship nForce 780i SLI.

In many ways, the nForce 700 series is identical to the 600 series that preceded it. However, Nvidia has added a few new wrinkles to the equation, including support for second-generation PCI Express, three-way SLI configurations, and its proposed Enthusiast System Architecture. There’s a new reference motherboard design for the nForce 780i SLI, too—one that will work with Intel’s upcoming 45nm processors.

So what’s actually new in this nForce 700 series and the 780i reference board design? More importantly, is this refresh enough to keep the nForce 780i SLI competitive with Intel’s recently released X38 Express chipset? Keep reading to find out.

The new chipset

Traditional chipsets have two components: a north bridge, which Nvidia calls a System Platform Processor (SPP), and a south bridge, which Nvidia refers to as a Media Communications Processor (MCP). The 780i SLI follows this logic with the usual SPP and MCP components, but Nvidia adds a third chip into the mix to handle PCI Express 2.0. This nForce 200 chip connects directly to the north bridge and supplies 32 lanes of PCIe 2.0 connectivity that can be split evenly between a pair of physical x16 slots or even divided between four cards with eight lanes each.

The nForce 780i SLI block diagram. Source: Nvidia

PCI Express 2.0 calls for a signaling rate of 5.0GT/s, and the nForce 200 delivers that in full to each of its 32 lanes, yielding 1GB/s of bandwidth per lane. The nForce 200 is also capable of routing signals directly between graphics cards connected to it, so in two-way SLI configurations, it handles any SLI traffic not passed over the bridge connector without hitting the north bridge. Three-way SLI setups hang the third graphics card off the south bridge, requiring that traffic not routed through the SLI bridge connector hop between the nForce 200 and the MCP through the north bridge.

SLI threesomes are likely to be rare, but single-card and even two-way SLI configs are not, which brings us to the nForce 200’s connection with the 780i SPP. With the nForce 200 serving up 32 lanes of PCIe 2.0 at 1GB/s of bandwidth per lane, you’d expect the chip’s link with the north bridge to be pretty beefy. And you’d be wrong. The link in question is described as an “Nvidia interface” with 16 lanes running at a 4.5GT/s signaling rate. This yields aggregate interconnect bandwidth of only 14.4GB/s—well short of the 32GB/s that the nForce 200 supplies to graphics cards connected to it. According to Nvidia, 14.4GB/s is still enough to “enable full performance of PCI Express 2.0 graphics cards.” We’ll be putting that claim to the test in a future article; time constraints didn’t permit doing so for this review.

The nForce 780i SLI SPP (top) and its nForce 200 companion chip

Using the nForce 200 seems like a convoluted way to bring PCIe 2.0 connectivity to the 780i SLI. New chipsets from AMD and Intel put PCIe 2.0 right into the north bridge and offer full end-to-end 5.0GT/s signaling rates without the need for a third chip. So why is Nvidia using the nForce 200? I suspect it’s because the nForce 780i SLI SPP isn’t really a new chip at all. Nvidia MCP General Manager Drew Henry told us the 780i SLI SPP is an “optimized version of a chip we’ve used before,” suggesting that it’s really a relabeled nForce 680i SLI SPP.

If you recall the last couple of Nvidia SPP chips, you’ll remember a feature called LinkBoost, which cranked up the link speed for the chipset’s PCI Express lanes. Nvidia was adamant that this wasn’t overclocking since the chipset had been fully validated to run at higher speeds. I think we’re seeing an extreme version of LinkBoost in action here, with the 780i SPP simply being a 680i SPP whose 16-lane PCIe 1.1 link has been coaxed into running at 4.5GT/s and validated at that speed. This approach would be fitting considering that second-generation PCI Express is really just gen one cranked up to a faster signaling rate. But it’s a shame Nvidia didn’t manage to nail 5.0GT/s on the button.

The nForce 780i 570 SLI MCP

Things get even more retro at the south bridge, where we find that the nForce 780i SLI MCP is in fact an nForce 570 SLI MCP. It even says so right on the chip. This chip’s orgins can be traced way back to May of 2006, when it first debuted as the south bridge component of the nForce 590 SLI chipset for Socket AM2 processors. Since then, it’s been passed around more than a wasted girl with low self esteem at a frat party, seeing action in nForce 570, 590i, and 680i chipsets. In fact, the 570 SLI MCP’s promiscuity adaptability won it best chipset distinction in our TR Awards for 2006. The only thing new this time around appears to be the 570’s ESA certification.

Despite tapping SPP and MCP components that aren’t entirely new, the 780 SLI’s feature set compares favorably with Intel’s Core 2 chipsets, including the latest X38 Express.

X38
Express
P35 Express nForce 780i SLI SPP nForce 680i SLI SPP

Front-side bus
1333/1066MHz 1333/1066MHz
1333/1066MHz
1333/1066MHz

Memory controller
DDR2-800
DDR3-1333
DDR2-800
DDR3-1333

DDR2-800
DDR2-800

PCI Express 1.1 lanes
0 16
2
18

PCI Express 2.0 lanes
32 0
32
0

Multi-GPU support
CrossFire CrossFire*
SLI
SLI

Chipset interconnect
DMI DMI
HyperTransport
HyperTransport

Peak interconnect bandwidth
2GB/s 2GB/s
8GB/s
8GB/s

Front-side bus speeds are supported up to 1333MHz, allowing the 780i to handle all but Intel’s upcoming Core 2 Extreme QX9770, which will call for a 1600MHz FSB. Nvidia says it will have products out to support a 1600MHz front-side bus when processors requiring that speed are available on the market next year. Expect those products to jump onto the DDR3 memory bandwagon, as well. DDR3 prices will hopefully sink to more reasonable levels by then, because with current market pricing, DDR2 is a much better value.

We should note that while the 780i’s memory controller is listed at DDR2-800—the fastest JEDEC-approved spec—Nvidia says its memory controller is capable of handling DIMMs running at up to 1200MHz. The nForce 780i SLI supports Enhanced Performance Profiles, as well, so if you have EPP memory modules rated for 1200MHz, 780i-bassed boards should detect and automatically run them at that speed.

Like the 680i SLI chipset that preceded it, the 780i offers gobs of interconnect bandwidth between its SPP and MCP components. A HyperTransport link serves up a whopping four times the bandwidth available through Intel’s DMI interconnect, but given how Nvidia has mapped out three-way SLI, it really needs the fatter pipe.


ICH9R

nForce 780i SLI MCP

nForce 680i SLI MCP

PCI Express 1.1 lanes
6
28
28

Serial ATA ports
6
6
6

Peak SATA data rate
300MB/s
300MB/s
300MB/s

AHCI
Y
N
N

Native Command Queuing
Y
Y
Y

RAID 0/1
Y
Y
Y

RAID 0+1/10
Y
Y
Y

RAID 5
Y
Y
Y

Matrix RAID
Y
N
N

ATA channels
0
1
1

Max audio channels
8
8
8

Audio standard
HDA
HDA
HDA

Ethernet
10/100/1000
2 x 10/100/1000
2 x 10/100/1000

USB ports
12
10
10

That’s because the third card in an SLI trio hangs off the south bridge’s PCI Express lanes, chewing up a significant chunk of interconnect bandwidth. And the nForce 570 780i MCP isn’t exactly short on other bandwidth-hungry peripherals, either. With a pair of Gigabit Ethernet controllers, six Serial ATA RAID ports, and an additional 12 PCI Express 1.1 lanes not dedicated to graphics, the MCP bristles with connectivity options. Heck, it even has an ATA channel.

About the only things the 780i MCP loses to Intel’s new ICH9R south bridge are a couple of extra USB ports and support for Matrix RAID, which allows multiple RAID partitions to span a single set of drives. The 780i MCP also lacks support for the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI), although unlike the ICH9R, it’s able to implement features like hot swap for SATA drives and Native Command Queuing without.

A new reference motherboard design

The nForce 780i SLI comes with a new reference motherboard design that will be brought to market as-is by some of Nvidia’s partners. Larger motherboard makers like Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI tend to spin their own board layouts. However, Nvidia’s reference designs have been popular with XFX, EVGA, BFG Tech, Foxconn, and even ECS. We used an XFX 780i SLI board for testing and have a second board from EVGA that’s essentially identical.

Overall, the board layout hasn’t changed much since the nForce 680i SLI, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nvidia has managed a layout that is packed, but not crowded, with most of the connectors in just the right place.

Take the board’s power plugs, for example. Both the primary 24-pin connector and the 8-pin auxiliary 12V plug are located along or near the top edges of the board to allow for cleaner cable routing within traditional ATX enclosures.

Things have changed a little around the socket, where a brand new cooling array covers the chipset’s SPP and MCP components, the nForce 200, and the board’s voltage regulation circuitry. The chunky cooler is actually less elaborate than the twisted heatpipe networks we’ve seen on some motherboards, despite the fact that it has an additional chip to cool in the nForce 200. There’s plenty of surface area, though, and the heatsinks are carefully shaped to provide clearance for larger aftermarket CPU coolers. Even Scythe’s massive Ninja heatsink will fit on this board.

We had no problems running the 780i SLI reference board at stock speeds with passive chipset cooling, but for overclocking, Nvidia provides an auxiliary fan that snaps onto the north bridge cooler. This fan plugs into the motherboard, and its speed can be controlled through the BIOS. The fan is pretty loud, though, so you’ll want to avoid using it if you can.

On an open test bench with a single graphics card installed, the fan was only necessary once front-side bus speeds started to approach 450MHz (or 1800MHz, quad-pumped). However, we’ve also observed the need for additional chipset cooling with SLI configurations, so you might have to bust out the fan for multi-GPU systems, as well.

Moving south, the 780i’s chipset cooler covers the south bridge with a low-profile heatsink that won’t interfere with longer graphics cards. Nvidia has also done well to ensure that none of the board’s Serial ATA ports will be blocked by longer or double-wide graphics cards. Even with a trio of massive cards installed, you’ll still have access to all six of the board’s SATA ports and even its IDE port, too.

One minor change for the reference design is the location of the board’s front-panel connectors. On the 680i SLI reference board, these connectors were oddly located up by the DIMM slots. The 780i, they’ve been moved to a more traditional location in the bottom right-hand corner of the board (bottom left in the picture above). There, the front-panel connectors are joined by onboard power and reset buttons and a handy two-digit POST code display.

Three-way SLI compatibility calls for a trio of PCI Express x16 graphics slots. Only the top two slots are PCIe 2.0, with the third hanging off the south bridge’s first-generation PCI Express implementation. You also get a couple of standard PCI slots and one PCIe x1 slot.

With three double-wide graphics cards installed, there won’t be room for any other expansion cards. Fortunately, such configurations are likely to be uncommon. Even with a two-way SLI config, you’ll still have access to standard PCI and PCIe x16 slots. And because PCIe slots are backwards compatible, an x16 slot can also handle x8, x4, and x1 cards.

Little has changed around the 780i SLI’s port cluster, where you’ll find a pretty standard array of expansion ports. A full suite of analog audio ports make an appearance fed by Realtek’s ALC888S codec chip. You get a TOS-Link digital audio output, too, but no provision for digital audio input or coaxial output.

Six USB ports make an appearance here, with the remaining four accessible via onboard headers. An additional Firewire port is available via an onboard header, as well, with both fed by a Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A chip that hangs off the PCI bus and supports 1394a “Firewire 400” speeds.

The only glaring omission from the port cluster—apart from serial and parallel ports that perhaps only half a dozen folks will actually miss—is external Serial ATA connectivity. eSATA enclosures aren’t overwhelmingly common just yet, but with eSATA ports available on just about every high-end board, they should really be included here.

BIOS options galore

Nvidia has long done a good job of providing plenty of tweaking and overclocking options in its reference BIOSes, and the one that comes with the 780i SLI is no exception.


Bus speeds
FSB: 400-2500MHz in
1MHz increments

PCIe: 100-200MHz in 1MHz increments

DRAM: 400-1400MHz in 1MHz increments
Interconnect ref: 200-500MHz in 2MHz increments


Bus multipliers
CPU: 6x-8x (Core
2 Duo E6750)

SPP->MCP: 1x-5x

MCP->SPP: 1x-5x

Voltages CPU: 0.5-1.8V in 0.00625V increments

DRAM: 1.8-2.5V in 0.025V increments

CPU FSB: 1.2-1.5V in 0.1V increments
SPP: 1.3-1.55V in
0.05V increments
MCP:
1.5-1.75V in 0.025V increments
MCP aux:
1.5-1.7V in 0.1V increments
Interconnect: 1.2-1.55V in 0.05V increments
GTLVREF lane 0, 1, 2, 3: +0.05-160mV in 0.05mV increments


Monitoring
Voltage, fan
status, and temperature monitoring

Fan speed control
CPU, chassis

There’s a little something for everyone, including incredibly fine-grained control over the system’s front-side and memory bus clocks. The 780i SLI may not officially support processors built to run on a 1600MHz front-side bus, but the BIOS will let you overclock the board to that speed and beyond. Memory bus speed options go all the way up to 1400MHz, as well, although Nvidia only guarantees up to 1200MHz. Slackers.

If you’re going to dabble in extreme overclocking, you’ll be pleased to note that the BIOS offers CPU multiplier control. A generous array of voltage options is available, as well. CPU voltage options go all the way up to 1.8V, and memory can be cranked up to 2.5V. Combine that with control over front-side bus, interconnect, and chipset voltages, and the 780i should offer overclockers all the flexibility they desire.

As one might expect, the BIOS serves up all the usual memory timing controls, including the ability to manipulate the DRAM command rate. Fan speed control makes an appearance, too, and in style no less. Users can set temperature-based fan speeds for the processor and chassis fan, and manual fan speed control is offered for three additional onboard fan headers.

If you don’t feel like poking around in the BIOS, the 780i SLI reference design offers full support for Nvidia’s nTune tweaking and system monitoring utility. Nvidia actually has a new, beta version of the app that’s ESA-enabled and should be available for download today. Look for a more detailed report on this new utility, and all things ESA, soon.

Specifics on specifications

For those who prefer motherboard specifications distilled into chart form, here’s the skinny on the nForce 780i SLI reference motherboard design. Note the lack of auxiliary Serial ATA and Gigabit Ethernet chips; Nvidia likes to handle as much as possible within the chipset, so it doesn’t need to outsource much functionality to third-party silicon.


CPU support
LGA775-based
Celeron, Pentium 4/D, Core 2 processors

North bridge
NVIDIA nForce 780i
SLI SPP

South bridge
NVIDIA nForce 780i
SLI MCP

Interconnect
HyperTransport (8GB/s)

Expansion slots
3 PCI Express x16

1 PCI Express x1
2 32-bit/33MHz PCI


Memory
4 240-pin DIMM
sockets

Maximum of 8GB of DDR3-667/800/1066/1333 SDRAM


Storage I/O
Floppy disk

1 channel ATA/133

6 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 support

Audio 8-channel HD audio
via nForce 780i SLI MCP and Realtek ALC888S codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse

6 USB
2.0 with headers for 4 more

2 RJ45 10/100/1000
1 1394a Firewire via
Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A with header for 1 more

1 analog bass/center out

1 analog rear out

1 analog surround out

1 analog line in

1 analog mic in
1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF
output

Our testing methods

We’ve assembled a small collection of boards for testing to represent the 780i SLI’s most direct competitors. From the Intel camp, we have P35 and X38 Express-based motherboards from Asus and Gigabyte. The Asus boards use DDR3 memory, while the Gigabytes are equipped with DDR2. We’ve also thrown in an nForce 680i SLI reference board from EVGA to illustrate how the 780i compares with its predecessor. The nForce 780i SLI comes with a slightly newer ForceWare driver package, which is why that board is using different drivers than the 680i.

All application tests were run on each board. However, since our Intel-based DDR2 and DDR3 configs all share the same ICH9R south bridge, we’ve limited our Serial ATA, USB, PCI, and PCIe testing to the DDR2 systems.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged.

Processor

Core 2 Duo E6750 2.67GHz
System bus 1333MHz (333MHz
quad-pumped)

Motherboard


Asus P5K3 Deluxe
Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6


Gigabyte GA-P35-DQ6


EVGA 122-CK-NF68

XFX nForce 780i
SLI
Bios revision 0604 0201 F5a F6 31
2.053.B0

North bridge
Intel P35 Express Intel X38 Express Intel X38 Express Intel P35 Express Nvidia nForce 680i
SLI SPP

Nvidia nForce 780i SLI SPP

South bridge
Intel ICH9R
Intel ICH9R
Intel ICH9R Intel ICH9R Nvidia nForce 680i
SLI MCP

Nvidia nForce 780i SLI MCP
Chipset drivers Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

nForce 15.08
ForceWare 9.46
Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs)

Memory type


Corsair CM3X1024-1066C7 DDR3 SDRAM
at 1066MHz



Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 DDR2 SDRAM
at 800MHz
CAS latency
(CL)
7
7
4 4 4
4
RAS to CAS
delay (tRCD)
7
7
4 4 4
4
RAS precharge
(tRP)
7
7
4 4 4
4
Cycle time
(tRAS)
21
21
12 12 12
12

Audio codec
Integrated
ICH9R/AD1988B with 7.0.0.0 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/AD1988B with 5.10.1.6110 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/ALC899A with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/ALC889A with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
nForce 680i/ALC885 with 1.78 drivers

Integrated
nForce 670i/ALC888S with 1.78 drivers
Graphics

GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 163.69 drivers
Hard drive
Western Raptor X 150GB
OS

Windows Vista Ultimate x86
with KB936710, KB938194, KB938979, KB940105
updates

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing. 2GB of RAM seems to be the new standard for most folks, and Corsair hooked us up with some of its 1GB DIMMs for testing.

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

Finally, we’d like to thank Western Digital for sending Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drives for our test rigs. The Raptor’s still the fastest all-around drive on the market, and the only 10K-RPM Serial ATA drive you can buy.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance

Memory subsystem performance doesn’t always track with real-world applications, but it’s a good place to start.

And the nForce 780i SLI starts off pretty well, trailing only the 680i in memory bandwidth and latency. The gap in performance is more notable with latency than it is with bandwidth, where the two nForce boards essentially tie. Note that the nForce boards have a particularly large advantage over the Intel chipsets when the latter are confined DDR2 memory, as well.

Memory controllers don’t always handle four DIMMs gracefully, so we popped an additional two memory modules into each system for another round of tests. In these tests, we had to back off to a 2T command rate for the nForce and DDR3-equipped X38 systems. This is common adjustment for four-DIMM configurations.

Popping additional DIMMs into our 780i board improves its standing in our memory subsystem tests. It essentially ties the DDR3-equipped Intel chipsets on the bandwidth front while delivering much lower memory access latencies. In the latency test, the 780i is just a fraction of a nanosecond from turning in the fastest overall performance, too.

The following latency graphs are a little indulgent, so I won’t be offended if you skip them. They show access latencies across multiple block and step sizes, painting a fuller picture of memory controller performance with each chipset. I’ve arranged the graphs in order of highest latency to lowest. Yellow represents L1 cache, light orange is L2, and dark orange is main memory.

Nvidia has one heck of a DDR2 memory controller in its nForce 680i and 780i SLI chipsets.

STARS Euler3d computational fluid dynamics

Few folks run fluid dynamics simulations on their desktops, but we’ve found this multi-threaded test to be particularly demanding of memory subsystems, making it a good link between our memory and application performance tests.

For whatever reason, both nForce chipsets struggle in our STARS fluid dynamics simulation test. The 780i SLI does no worse than the 680i, but that still puts it off the pace set by Intel’s best.

Worldbench

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results alongside the results from some of our own application tests.

We ran into a curious issue with the latest version of WorldBench when testing our P35 system with DDR2 memory. In the first run, the system posted a score in the WinZip test that matched our expectations given the scores of the other systems. However, subsequent test runs registered WinZip test times that were 20% faster than the first run. This behavior wasn’t consistent with that of the other systems, despite the fact that each starts testing with a fresh hard drive image. We suspect Windows Vista’s intelligent disk caching may be responsible for the faster scores, so we’ve reported the results of the first WorldBench test run for the P35 DDR2 config below.

The 780i scores one point off the pace set by its predecessor in WorldBench, putting it ahead of most of the Intel chipsets. Let’s break things down to see if we can find a gem or two within WorldBench’s individual test results.

Little separates the 780i SLI from its competition through WorldBench’s multimedia editing and encoding tests.

The nForce chipsets are a little slower in Firefox, though, and that also affects performance in WorldBench’s multitasking test.

Performance doesn’t vary much from board to board in the 3ds max tests.

However, both Nero and WinZip show advantages for the nForce line. The 680i and 780i trade the lead back and forth, but they both manage to outpace the closest Intel competition.

Gaming

As one might expect, there’s little difference between platforms in our game tests. Even the system-crippling Crysis doesn’t have an overwhelming preference for one platform over another at the resolution and detail level we used for testing.

Serial ATA performance

The Serial ATA disk controller is one of the most important components of a modern core logic chipset, so we threw each platform a selection of I/O-intensive storage tests using a Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD.

IOMeter

We’ll begin our storage tests with IOMeter, which subjects our systems to increasing multi-user loads. Testing was restricted to IOMeter’s workstation and database test patterns, since those are more appropriate for desktop systems than the file or web server test patterns.

IOMeter throughput is a little lower on the 780i that it is with the 680i, perhaps due to the slightly different driver revisions used for each board. The ICH9R south bridge paired with the P35 and X38 Express fares better than both nForce chipsets overall, ramping transactions more quickly in response to load increases and scaling a little bit higher under the heaviest loads.

Differences in IOMeter response times are really only apparent under extremely heavy loads, where the nForce chipsets yield a little ground to Intel.

CPU utilization is low across the board, rarely breaking 1%.

HD Tach

We used HD Tach 3.01’s 8MB zone test to measure basic SATA throughput and latency.

The 780i SLI’s transfer rates look a little low here. Write speeds are higher than they should be for all the chipsets, though. The combination of HD Tach’s write speed test, our Raptor hard drive, and chipsets that implement Native Command Queuing tends to produce artificially inflated scores.

Access times are pretty close, although the 780i SLI is half a millisecond off the 680i.

CPU utilization results are close considering HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin of error in this test.

USB performance

Our USB transfer speed tests were conducted with a USB 2.0/Firewire external hard drive enclosure connected to a 7200RPM Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 hard drive. We tested with HD Tach 3.01’s 8MB zone setting.

Recent Nvidia chipsets have had a knack for USB, and that trend continues with the 780i SLI. The chipset not only delivers the fastest burst speeds of the lot, but its write speeds are a couple of MB/s quicker than Intel’s fastest chipset. CPU utilization is nice and low, as well.

Ethernet performance

We evaluated Ethernet performance using the NTttcp tool from Microsoft’s Windows DDK. The docs say this program “provides the customer with a multi-threaded, asynchronous performance benchmark for measuring achievable data transfer rate.”

We used the following command line options on the server machine:

ntttcps -m 4,0,192.168.1.25 -a

..and the same basic thing on each of our test systems acting as clients:

ntttcpr -m 4,0,192.168.1.25 -a

Our server was a Windows XP Pro system based on Asus’ P5WD2 Premium motherboard with a Pentium 4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition (800MHz front-side bus, Hyper-Threading enabled) and PCI Express-attached Gigabit Ethernet. A crossover CAT6 cable was used to connect the server to each system.

The boards were tested with jumbo frames disabled.

You’ll see that we’ve changed the names here and included a lot more results. All of our P35 and X38 Express-based motherboards use third party chips to handle Gigabit Ethernet, this despite the fact that the ICH9R has an integrated GigE MAC. The nForce 780i, however, integrates a pair of Gigabit controllers directly into the chipset, just like the 680i did before it. That leaves us with little choice but to compare networking performance on a motherboard rather than chipset level, so you’ll find boards listed by name followed by their Ethernet source in brackets.

The 780i SLI’s GigE performance shadows that of the 680i, and it’s really not that impressive when compared with what third-party controllers offer. Only one of the 780i’s GigE connections delivers full throughput, with the second stuck around 816Mbps. CPU utilization is higher for the nForce chipsets, too.

PCI Express performance

We used ntttcp to test PCI Express Ethernet throughput using a Marvell 88E8052-based PCI Express x1 Gigabit Ethernet card.

Apart from the P35’s lower CPU utilization, there isn’t much variance in PCI Express throughput with a standard Gigabit Ethernet card.

PCI performance

To test PCI performance, we used the same ntttcp test methods and a PCI VIA Velocity GigE NIC.

nForce PCI performance pulls up about 100Mbps short, though. And to make matters worse, it does so with higher CPU utilization—not a good combination.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Power consumption was measured at idle and under a load consisting of a multi-threaded Cinebench 10 render running in parallel with the “rthdribl” high dynamic range lighting demo.

In testing, we discovered that the BIOS for the GA-P35-DQ6 motherboard we used for our P35/DDR2 system doesn’t correctly throttle clock speeds with either C1E or SpeedStep. Older BIOS revisions used to work, but Gigabyte broke something with its last release. That could explain the lower CPU utilization results we saw for the P35 configuration in some of our peripheral testing.

Recent nForce chipsets have been quite power-hungry, and the 780i SLI falls right in line. With an extra nForce 200 chip under the hood, the 780i draws about 7W more power at idle and under load than the 680i SLI. That puts its power consumption much higher than of Intel’s P35 and X38 Express chipsets, at least when they’re paired with DDR2 memory.

Overclocking

For our overclocking tests, we dropped our CPU multiplier to 6X—its lowest possible value. The memory bus was also maintained at 800MHz to keep our DIMMs running well within their limits at overclocked front-side bus speeds. Next, we turned our attention to the front-side bus, cranking it up and using a combined load of Prime95 and the rthdribl HDR lighting demo to test stability along the way.

When we hit a 450MHz front-side bus, it became necessary to add the 780i’s optional chipset fan to keep the system stable under load. But we didn’t stop there. The board easily sailed up to 480MHz without the need for extra voltage or additional tweaking. It would go no further, though, and no amount of voltage fiddling or human sacrifice could coax 490MHz from the front-side bus.

480MHz is still quite an overclock and more than enough to run a QX9770 on a 1600MHz quad-pumped bus. However, it’s worth noting that we’ve seen 500 and 510MHz front-side bus speeds with identical hardware on X38 Express boards.

As is always the case with overclocking, your mileage may vary.

Motherboard peripheral performance

Core logic chipsets integrate a wealth of peripherals, but they don’t handle everything. Firewire and audio are farmed out to auxiliary chips, for example. Intel chipsets also rely on third-party silicon for networking, and many motherboards feature additional SATA controllers to complement south bridge Serial ATA offerings.

To provide a closer look at the peripheral performance you can expect from the motherboards we’ve tested today, we’ve complied USB, Firewire, Serial ATA, and Audio performance results below. You’ll notice that there isn’t much variance from one board to another, but there are a few things worth pointing out. Our 780i-based motherboard is highlighted and in bold to make it easier to pick out from the crowd.

HD Tach USB
performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n

33.9

32.5

30.2

4.7

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
33.9 32.5 26.2 5.7

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
33.9 32.6 32.4 4.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
33.9 32.6 27.4 3.0

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
33.9 32.6 30.1 9.0

XFX nForce 780i
SLI

34.3

32.6

32.4

4.3

Nothing to see here, move along.

HD Tach
Firewire performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
42.0 37.5 28.7 1.0

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
42.4 37.5 28.7 0.3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
30.5 28.5 14.4 0.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
42.3 37.6 28.7 1.3

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
42.1 37.4 28.7 2.0

XFX nForce 780i
SLI

42.1

37.4

21.7

2.7

The 780i reference board’s Texas Instruments Firewire chip is an improvement over what was used with the 680i SLI. However, the board’s average write speeds are still lower than the competition’s.

HD Tach Serial
ATA performance

Read

burst

speed

(MB/s)


Average

read

speed

(MB/s)


Average

write speed

(MB/s)


CPU

utilization

(%)


Random

access

time

(ms)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
133.4 78.0 101.3 3.0 8.2

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
133.4 78.0 104.7 3.7 8.3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
128.1 78.0 94.4 2.3 7.9

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6 (ICH9R)
134.5 78.0 100.5 3.3 8.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6 (GSATA)
131.6 78.0 49.5 3.3 8.0

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
133.3 78.0 101.2 2.3 8.2

XFX nForce 780i
SLI

132.0

75.2

88.8

4.0

8.4

Without auxiliary storage controllers, the 780i SLI’s only SATA option is the chipset itself.

RightMark Audio
Analyzer audio quality

Overall score

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

THD

THD + Noise

IMD + Noise

Stereo Crosstalk

IMD at 10kHz

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
3 5 1 1 3 1
3
3
3

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
3 5 1 3 3 1 3 3 3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6

4

5
1 1
3
1
3
3
3

XFX nForce 780i
SLI


4


5

3

3


3

1


3

4


3

RMAA scores are pretty close. Note that 780i SLI board posts a higher overall score than the 680i-based EVGA board, though.

Conclusions

I can’t help but think it fitting that Nvidia is launching the 780i SLI during a time of year when bands release greatest hits albums to capitalize on the holiday sales rush. In many ways, the 780i feels like Nvidia’s greatest core logic hits; you have some old tracks, represented by the 570 SLI MCP, paired with a remixed north bridge and one new song, the nForce 200.

Everything comes together nicely on the new 780i board design, but perhaps not well enough. As good as Nvidia’s core logic chipsets have been over the past few years, the competition has moved forward, and the 780i SLI doesn’t quite catch Nvidia up. Take the chipset’s PCIe 2.0 implementation, for example. Using a third nForce 200 chip may allow Nvidia to milk more life from an older north bridge chip, but it also results in signaling rates that aren’t quite up to speed. Adding the nForce 200 increases power consumption, too—something that was already high enough with nForce chipsets.

The 570 SLI MCP pressed into service in the 780i could also use some work. PCI performance is a little slower than we’d like to see, and while we applaud Nvidia’s desire to offer chipset-level Gigabit Ethernet, its solution no longer offers higher throughput and lower CPU utilization than competing third-party chips.

Despite these flaws, the 780i SLI is still a good chipset with a solid feature set and competitive performance. The XFX board we used for testing didn’t so much as flinch at the abuse to which we subjected it, and it provides loads of BIOS tweaking options and a healthy dose of overclocking headroom.

Most importantly, though, the 780i SLI—an indeed the entire nForce 700 series—gives Nvidia an SLI platform compatible with Intel’s new 45nm processors. Based on what we’ve seen, 45nm Core 2 chips will be the ones to have come the new year. And if you’re looking for a high-end graphics solution, the best bet at the moment is probably a pair of GeForce 8800 GTs in SLI. The nForce 700 series gives Nvidia the only platform short of Intel’s extremely expensive Skulltrail proposition capable of putting the two together. So it may not be the best chipset, but it’s certainly an integral component of the best high-end gaming platform that one could build with current components.

Keep in mind, though, that Nvidia has something in the works to support upcoming Intel processors based on a 1600MHz front-side bus. We don’t know what that chipset will look like just yet, but we expect it to be a bigger step forward than the 780i SLI.

Comments closed
    • rootbear
    • 12 years ago

    There are several places in the article that list speeds in the unit of GT/s. Anybody want to enlightenment what a GT/s is?

    • tempeteduson
    • 12 years ago

    Is it just me, or are all links to the pages messed up?

    Without the benefit of having read the article, I’d still say that I hate NVIDIA’s way of doing chipsets lately. Reusing components over and over again and rebranding is just deceptive to me. Looks like most of their engineering resources are focused on the graphics division, naturally.

    • RambodasCordas
    • 12 years ago

    What Nvidia re-releasing rebranded outdated products?

    So when will we expect TR to write a front page editorial or some article bashing Nvidia?

    I mean if you guys bash Ati for the “outdate” SouthBridge then what will you guys say of the Nvidia outdated NorthBridge+SouthBridge ?

    No 1600Mhz FSB
    No DDR3
    No quad SLI
    Erratic PCIe2.0 implementation
    Erratic Tri SLI implementation

    The best chipset ever (in the past months) is no doubt the Ati 790FX. All the goodies everyone could want and at cheap prices.
    I guess you guys will have to take a better look at it:
    §[<http://64.233.179.104/translate_c?hl=pt-PT&langpair=de%7Cen&u=http://www.planet3dnow.de/vbulletin/showthread.php%3Ft%3D326608<]§ Because after what I have seen from Intel and Nvidia lately... About the power consuming when you add too much to the boards like lots of SATA/eSATA/FW/USB/Ethernet/... expect the motherboard to consume more power... PS: Is this core logic really for enthusiasts?

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      Actually, this *is* a front page article, and we certainly take Nvidia to task for reusing old chipset components. Perhaps you should read the review again, you appear to have missed a few things.

      -There are currently no processors on the market with native support for a 1600MHz front-side bus. No chipsets, either. But as the review points out, Nvidia has something coming for a 1600MHz FSB, and the 780i easily overclocks to that speed.

      -DDR3 is coming, too, and given current memory prices, we wouldn’t recommend it over DDR2 anyway.

      -There is no more quad SLI.

      -There is nothing “erratic” about Nvidia’s PCIe 2.0 implementation. As we point out, they just don’t have a lot of bandwidth between the north bridge and nForce 200 chip.

      -Nothing “erratic” about Tri SLI, either.

      -Boards based on Intel’s P35 chipset do just fine on the power consumption front when they have lots of SATA ports. In fact, their power consumption is lower than that of your beloved 790FX boards.

      We get it. You have an unnatural love for the 790FX chipset. But don’t let that cloud your reading comprehension.

        • RambodasCordas
        • 12 years ago

        “Actually, this *is* a front page article,”
        Then let’s wait for another one similar to the:
        Lessons from the difficult birth of the Spider platform

        “you appear to have missed a few things.”
        No I didn’t miss the point where you still recommended it.

        “There are currently no processors on the market with native support for a 1600MHz front-side bus. No chipsets, either. “
        So releasing a brand new chipset with no future and no point (besides the 45nm quad core support) is a good idea? I’m sure the 680i buyers are frustrated, how much the 780i will be? Let Intel release a new updated P35/P33/… with PCIe 2.0/faster DDR2,3 support and 1600FSB support and there is no point going Nvidia and maybe Tri-SLI if Intel adds crossfire to it.

        “But as the review points out, Nvidia has something coming for a 1600MHz FSB, and the 780i easily overclocks to that speed.”
        Yes running out of spec is a great idea.

        “-DDR3 is coming, too, and given current memory prices, we wouldn’t recommend it over DDR2 anyway.”
        Only shows how outdated the board is.

        “-There is no more quad SLI.”
        There are also no <90W GPUs from nvidia either, that can be connect with more than two cards, so the point that the board could do 8x/8x/8x/8x.

        “-There is nothing “erratic” about Nvidia’s PCIe 2.0 implementation. As we point out, they just don’t have a lot of bandwidth between the north bridge and nForce 200 chip.”
        It is not a “native” implementation. I wonder if it was AMD or Ati doing it, if there was a problem…

        “-Nothing “erratic” about Tri SLI, either.”
        Are you sure? Two cards run at PCIe 2.0, the other 1.0? No problem really?

        “-Boards based on Intel’s P35 chipset do just fine on the power consumption front when they have lots of SATA ports. In fact, their power consumption is lower than that of your beloved 790FX boards.”
        Then you didn’t read. The 790FX says 10W but that’s just for the northbridge and if you want my opinion that’s a lot for something that does nothing (just a PCIe bridge), my point was that the firewire, more sata controllers, ethernet ports, …, … all consume power.
        Nvidia chipsets may consume more power but that’s not the only component there. A vanilla version of the board was more correct to test the things.
        And I have no doubts Intel is the low power consuming champion. But the all picture would be with SIS and VIA included.

        “We get it. You have an unnatural love for the 790FX chipset. But don’t let that cloud your reading comprehension.“
        Well I have no problem in accepting that, but you also seem to have some problem against my “lovely” 790FX chipset.

          • rxc6
          • 12 years ago

          “Lessons from the difficult birth of the Spider platform” was a blog you know… your reading comprehension fails a little or was it your fanboyism at work? Also, I didn’t know that the AMD790 had support for DDR3…. Oh wait, AMD doesn’t support DDR3. In your words:
          q[

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            I like that DDR3 comment! 😀

            • RambodasCordas
            • 12 years ago

            So since Intel chipset lack HT links, that only show how outdated they are? If you lack knowledge how AMD systems work VS Intel this site is a good place to do some search/researches and maybe you can get to me without reporting stupidities.
            But maybe if you can find a link to some AMD board that has DDR3 support I will take you more seriously and give you a link to some Intel board with DDR3 support.

            Also I know what a blog is. Guess what people read blogs, and blogs some times randomly appear on the main page title, if you are not a Techreport daily reader has I am then dont even bother to reply, and next time do your home work.

            “Ughhh.”

            Yes that explains it all…

            • Tuanies
            • 12 years ago

            Why would Intel chipsets have HT links? Intel processors don’t use HyperTransport and the chipset uses its own proprietary interconnect. And don’t say AMD uses HT for its chipset link either, its a standard PCIe link.

            NVIDIA is the only company that uses HT links for its chipsets.

            • RambodasCordas
            • 12 years ago

            I was being sarcastic to the guy that pointed about the fact AMD 790FX lacked DDR3 where the DDR3 support is built in the processor and not the chipset.

            Intel on the other hand on its platforms is already using DDR3 memory; tell me how nvidia wants to compete with Intel on Intel own game by just re-branding/re-releasing the same chipset i680 with a face lift.

            Just check this out:
            §[<http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hkepc.com%2F%3Fid%3D533&langpair=ja%7Cen&hl=pt-PT&ie=UTF-8<]§ Much in line with I previously said, when Intel updates its own (great) chipsets there is little to no reason going nvidia boards. How competitive can nvidia be against Intel? IGP maybe? High end enthusiast market? I say no, at least not with this i780 chips combination. "NVIDIA is the only company that uses HT links for its chipsets." There was ULI who was unfortunately bought by Nvidia. In fact I didn’t see Nvidia yet win anything with the deal besides we losing a great chipset designer (and cheap) for the Amd platforms.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            q[

            • Xaser04
            • 12 years ago

            r[

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            Exactly, if newer must be better, then Rambus would have won so long ago.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            q[

            • RambodasCordas
            • 12 years ago

            “Doesn’t seem to do it these days. And the blog entries have a big icon on top saying “Damage Report” or “Technical Dissonance”.”

            Really, how nice 🙂

            “I suggest you re-read the blog and see for yourself.”

            To bad I can’t read… 🙂

            “The only change that happened was adding a “a blog by X” tag in the image just to make it a little bit easier to discern for people like you. ”

            How nice of their part to think in people like me. Do you think they also give attention to people like you or they don’t even bother?
            So what you say is that we will see a blog entry bashing Nvidia like they keep doing with AMD/Ati or this is not related?

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            If it is an opinion article, why do they need to bash everyone “just to be fair”? I don’t get it.

            Formal review articles need to be objective, but blogs/editorial are not. Is it that hard to understand?

          • Flying Fox
          • 12 years ago

          q[<“There are currently no processors on the market with native support for a 1600MHz front-side bus. No chipsets, either. “ So releasing a brand new chipset with no future and no point (besides the 45nm quad core support) is a good idea? I’m sure the 680i buyers are frustrated, how much the 780i will be? Let Intel release a new updated P35/P33/… with PCIe 2.0/faster DDR2,3 support and 1600FSB support and there is no point going Nvidia and maybe Tri-SLI if Intel adds crossfire to it.<]q No one says it is a super smart idea, but they have done that before. Remember the 7800GTX 512? The 915 chipset? If they figure they can sell the stuff with a nice little profit they will do it. And btw, 45nm quad support is a big point. What else do you want, 10 more USB ports? The 680i users are already frustrated because some of them can't take the Q6600 or overclock them properly. So for users of SLI who want to overclock their shiny new Q6600 or even the upcoming Q9xxx, the 780i will be for them. People who run stock and not do SLI will not be buying this chipset anyway. q[<“But as the review points out, Nvidia has something coming for a 1600MHz FSB, and the 780i easily overclocks to that speed.” Yes running out of spec is a great idea.<]q Most people who buy this will be overclocking, so what's your point? It's not like Nvidia itself has never run things out of spec before. q[<“-There is nothing "erratic" about Nvidia's PCIe 2.0 implementation. As we point out, they just don't have a lot of bandwidth between the north bridge and nForce 200 chip.” It is not a "native" implementation. I wonder if it was AMD or Ati doing it, if there was a problem...<]q What are you talking about? See my comments below. q[<“-Nothing "erratic" about Tri SLI, either.” Are you sure? Two cards run at PCIe 2.0, the other 1.0? No problem really?<]q SLI means multiple GPUs teaming to render a scene. It does not say it has to be 3 cards all running PCIe 2.0 to work. Also, PCIe covers the interface between the video card and the other end (through the x16 slot), in this case the nForce 200 chip. It does *[

    • fpsduck
    • 12 years ago

    I’m still scared of the X-Fi issue on Nvidia chipset.
    Not sure this newbie fix the issue already or not.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    q[

      • jackaroon
      • 12 years ago

      I thought the analogy was tasteless and full of victim blame. Why aren’t all the different motherboards being held responsible for all going after the same part, which is apparently, in a state of drunkenness . . . that it has chosen to be . . . er sold a lot and a very profitable design for the . .
      How is that like a woman, again? How is mass-market success comparable to human sexuality?

      It makes no sense and it just shows the author’s sexist perspective.

      Considering it’s a “mother”board and not a “father”board, I’m surprised he didn’t give the chip a male gender and congratulate it for getting with so many motherboards, in the typical “men having sex” == good, “women having sex” == slut mindset of sexist men.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 12 years ago

        Wow. It’s just Geoff’s trademark writing style to break up the monotony. While I can’t speak for Geoff, I didn’t take the statements literally.

        Perhaps Geoff could rectify the situation by making an analogy using male impotence as an example? Would that ease your pain?

    • albundy
    • 12 years ago

    wow, the x38 chipset did very well, impressively. wish that the sli was tested too though, as the gaming test results were like drawing a straight line down.

    • Bion1c
    • 12 years ago

    Seriously WTF guys – you didnt test overclocking with a quad core?! That is THE big question mark for a lot of people on this board, and lets face it if youre willing to lay out the money on an expensive nvidia board youre highly likely to pay a bit extra for a quad too

    • Forge
    • 12 years ago

    I’m pondering the low-cost 680i->780i upgrade that eVGA is offering. I’m plenty happy with my 680i, and just a few new bits plus 45nm ability sounds ideal to me.

    I wonder what Nvidia has cooking as a full official 1600FSB product, though.

    Might maybe be worth waiting for, but I can’t imagine eVGA offering a similar deal.

      • metalhead
      • 12 years ago

      If only they offered cross shipping I would possibly consider it.

      • Flying Fox
      • 12 years ago

      q[

    • nstuff
    • 12 years ago

    so, this being a new Nvidia chipset, i’m very interested in what, if any, problems you had with the new motherboard? Any driver glitches, or random stability issues?

    I just built an EVGA 680i A1 based system (Q6600), and i’m seeing people mention in here about known issues with the 680i and quad core chips. A friend and I have seen random freezing for no apparent reason. Since EVGA offers the upgrade option to a newer product for only the difference between the two, i’m wondering if it might be a good buy to upgrade to the 780i now.

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      Zero problems with the board.

    • AMDisDEC
    • 12 years ago

    Looks good, but I’m afraid I’m waiting until 2008/09 when Intel axes the FSB before I upgrade my Quad Opteron.
    It will be the first Intel based system I’ve owned in the last 10 years.

    • Kent_dieGo
    • 12 years ago

    An extra 30 Watts over P35? I am amazed a chipset consumes 30 Watts let alone 30 Watts more, so ~50 Watts total?. The new ATI 790FX only uses 10 Watts. I would never consider buying this chipset. I bet they have a new die shrunk chipset within 5 months that addresses all the short comings of this chipset.

    • Krogoth
    • 12 years ago

    780i = revision of 680i + PCI 2.0 support.

    It is purely firmware issues that cripple 680i’s quad-core support. Nvidia wants to justify the existence of 780i. 😉

    I doubt it is power issues. If the damm chipset and motherboard can handle aggressive overclocking with dual-core chips. It can at least operate any quad-core chip at stock speed with maybe a little arm-chair overclocking.

      • Kulith
      • 12 years ago

      But black and green is one helluva cool combination.

      Anybody know if the 680i SLI mobos will price drop now?

    • Missile Maker
    • 12 years ago

    With such a luke-warm review, this ones gonna be a shelf queen, especially if 1600MHz FSB is around the corner. I love my 680i for Dual Core and SLI, and once dialed in OC’ing is sweet. But as other’s have noted, Quad owners have a lot of issues with 680i, especially significant Vdrop when OC’ing Quads.

    • Voldenuit
    • 12 years ago

    A 780i SLI review without 3-way GPU benchmarks?

    That’s like testing a new Dodge Viper by getting in, feeling the seats, testing the radio, trying out the cup holders…and never starting the car. 🙁

      • d2brothe
      • 12 years ago

      Meh…more like trying out several configurations of the dodge viper and not trying out the million dollar specialty model with the nuclear power plant.

    • kuraegomon
    • 12 years ago

    I’d heard that this chipset was having problems overclocking the 45 nm quad-cores. I.e. as in getting them even a little bit over stock speeds. Can you do a quick run to confirm?

    The dual-core overclocking results may not be representative at all, and this may make a huge difference to prospective buyers.

      • lethal
      • 12 years ago

      Seconded…. from what I know, the 680i handles dual core processors with relative ease compared to Quads. Also, I suggest running crysis on very high (or at least the physics), since some of the CPU intensive tasks are removed in medium.

    • jroyv
    • 12 years ago

    About what I expected… Solid enough to consider if you want the SLI option but nothing exceptional.

    • Lord.Blue
    • 12 years ago

    The 970 series from AMD is much better than this IMHO. It’s a shame, really that Intel will not allow them to create mainboards for Intel chips.

    • Jigar
    • 12 years ago

    The chipset is not impressive ..

      • flip-mode
      • 12 years ago

      Seconded. I’d go P35 all the way.

Pin It on Pinterest