iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM Motherboard

<< Previous page

     Next page >>

This is a brief motherboard review. Moreover, it's one of the cases, when a full review with a detailed account of all features, bundled components, etc. is not necessary. That the motherboard comes from EVGA may hint that it's not a unique product. Our readers may even tell the name of the real manufacturer and designer. About half a year ago we reviewed two identical motherboards (labels, box designs, bundles) with the NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset. Those models came from XFX and Zotac, so it made no sense to include the third identical model from EVGA -- our review of the reference motherboard from NVIDIA wouldn't become any better.

Nevertheless, today we are going to test an EVGA motherboard with the NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI chipset. Is this product worth examining? Yes, to some degree. The fact is, unlike other "packagers" of reference motherboards, EVGA didn't stick to a single basic model. We don't have exact information about real improvements in new EVGA products -- perhaps they are just additional modifications, offered by NVIDIA engineers to partners that sell end products. There are other possible options as well, including tech support from the OEM manufacturer. But it's not very important.

What's really important, EVGA came up with EVGA nForce 790i SLI with the "FTW" ("For The Win") suffix. This motherboard was positioned as a product that could set new overclocking records, etc. -- it's realized as the enhanced BIOS Setup, including Vdroop control. From a technical point of view, the motherboard has got an updated set of electronic components: all chokes have been replaced with shielded ferrite chokes, the board uses only polymer capacitors now (not just in CPU power circuits). Besides, the number of phases in the voltage regulator was increased from 6 to 8, so the new motherboard should really be more stable and offer a higher overclocking potential as well as energy efficiency of its onboard components. There are also several minor changes, but functionality remains practically the same. Engineers just added the second SATA-II controller to increase the number of onboard SATA ports to nine.

And now EVGA presents a new model, nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM, which title indicates its only new feature: a digital PWM. There are no more differences from EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW. However, unlike the reference motherboard with the NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset, both FTW models have an important feature: they are officially based on the NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI chipset, not the Ultra version. With the insignificant difference in practical features, it means much lower costs for the chipset and the motherboard.


This motherboard is equipped with three PCIEx16 slots for top SLI configurations. It's even possible to install three top graphics card from NVIDIA, although they will probably block some PCI slots. Also note the unusual and diverse locations of SATA ports. However, you won't have problems plugging cables to them.

We marked Volterra MOSFETs, 2 Coiltronics chokes, Volterra digital PWM chip,
and the voltage control switch.

Digital PWM is not a unique solution even among desktop motherboards: for example, we examined Foxconn WinFast N570SM2AA-8EKRS2H, which was equipped with a digital PWM. Besides, this element is often used in top motherboards from DFI. And the server class of motherboards uses this component on a regular basis. Note that theoretically, a digital PWM controller has a number of advantages. First of all, it can be reprogrammed to provide a new voltage reduction range, and thus to support new processors, which require a different VRD specification. This feature is implemented here with a switch near the Volterra VT1115MF chip. Unfortunately, EVGA does not bundle its motherboards with good technical documentation. But from labels on the PCB and FAQ on the official web site we figured out that the switch sets the PWM to VRD 10 or VRD 11 modes (in simple terms, this switch chooses between Pentium 4 and Core 2 Duo processors).

For two, a digital PWM controller can work at a significantly higher frequency and supports finer adjustments as well as higher voltage stability with much lower heat dissipation. Indeed, output voltage ripple is so low that the EVGA motherboard does fine with ceramic SMD capacitors of low capacitance instead of commonplace high-capacity electrolytic models (most modern top motherboards use even solid-state polymeric capacitors). Besides, this motherboard is equipped with Coiltronics CPL-4-50 chokes (they unite four L-elements in a single low-profile package with a ferrite core). They are usually used with Volterra power modules. As a result, the processor socket is surrounded with free space (even though the board has an 8-phase VRM!) So you can install practically any cooler to enjoy the highest cooling effect.

Write a comment below. No registration needed!

Next page >>

Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Cooling, features, performance

blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.