EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM Motherboard
The cooling system is a bit simplified in comparison with the analog version of the motherboard with nForce 790i [Ultra] SLI: one heatsink is not installed (on the missing part of MOSFETs), and the second heatsink has become smaller. Unfortunately, the digital converter in the CPU power supply circuit does not affect heat release of the chipset, so all elements of the cooling system still grow very hot! All heatsinks are fixed to the board with good metal screws instead of plastic latches, so it's easy to replace thermal compound or press the heatsinks harder to the chips. There is still a cooler on the NB heatsink, but it looks different (it's also used in EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW): it's covered with a housing on one end now, the fan is replaced with a radial model, and air is ejected through a slot on the side. It's hard to tell whether it's become more efficient, but it's definitely quieter now.
There are onboard buttons to reset and power on/off the system -- but they look worse now than on the reference motherboard with nForce 790i. In return, they indicate when the system is powered on. Besides, there has appeared a button (instead of a jumper) to clear CMOS, which facilitates restoration of the system after a failed overclocking attempt. But you will still have to open your PC enclosure. The board also includes a POST display to diagnose startup problems.
The motherboard offers vast system monitoring capacity (both in BIOS Setup and with Windows utilities), you can control all fans. And the CPU and NB fans support automatic speed control. Besides, BIOS Setup has very rich overclocking features, lots of memory timings and voltages, FSB and memory frequencies can be specified independently at MHz steps.
The bundle includes many cables (and power adapters) to plug all possible storage drives, rear panel brackets for various peripheral ports, SLI bridges (for two and three cards), but nothing interesting. The proprietary bundle of utilities (from NVIDIA, of course, not from EVGA) includes System Monitor (to monitor system parameters, control fan speed, overclock the system, etc), which can work in 3D mode, displaying monitoring results in OpenGL mode.
The motherboard is based on the NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI chipset (nForce 790i SLI SPP Northbridge and nForce 790i SLI MCP Southbridge). You can read about its features in the corresponding review. Besides, the motherboard offers the following extra functions:
- Integrated audio, based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec Realtek ALC888S (average analog audio quality, two independent S/PDIF-Outs), 7.1-ch audio, front line-ins/outs, optical and coaxial S/PDIF-Out jacks (another S/PDIF-Out can be added)
- Two network controllers based on the chipset and Broadcom PHY controllers supporting 10/100/1000 Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet) and a number of proprietary NVIDIA technologies, including a hardware firewall (read the details in the chipset description)
- Two SATA-II controllers based on JMicron JMB362 chips (PCIEx1) supporting four SATA300 devices in total (one port is implemented as eSATA-II)
- FireWire, based on Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A (PCI) supporting two ports (one of them is installed on the rear panel).
CPU support hasn't changed since the basic model with nForce 790i. But now you have to use the switch to choose the right voltage mode, while the previous motherboard with the analog PWM provided power supply to both CPU types (models with NetBurst and Core architectures). However, the digital micro controller makes up for this inconvenience with interest -- we've already covered its advantages above. Just like the reference model, this motherboard uses JMicron JMB362 for its additional SATA-II controller, so this solution adds no advantages or problems, only two extra SATA300 ports on the board. You may learn more details about motherboard specs and read the list of processors and memory modules tested for compatibility on the official product page (links at the end of the article).
The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. Here is its final score: Very good. As NVIDIA hasn't abandoned the PATA interface in its chipsets, there are no connectivity problems with old hard drives and especially CD/DVD drives.
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 (2.66 GHz, 1333MHz FSB)
- 2 x 1GB Kingston KHX13000D3LLK2/2G (DDR3)
- 2 x 1GB Corsair CM2X1024-9136C5D (DDR2)
- Graphics card: PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 3870, 512 MB
- HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (SATA, 7200rpm)
- PSU: HiPro W460GC31
- OS: Windows XP SP2
Of course, we want to compare performance of the motherboard under review and its predecessor without a digital PWM (we got that model from XFX). We'll also add results of the recently reviewed MSI P45-8D (Intel P45), which will show a performance level of motherboards with DDR2 memory.
||EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM (DDR3-1333, 7-7-7-1T)
||XFX nForce 790i Ultra 3-Way SLI (DDR3-1333, 6-6-6-1T)
||MSI P45-8D (DDR3-1333, 7-5-5-2T)
||MSI P45-8D (DDR2-800, 4-4-4-2T)
|Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
|MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec
|FarCry (Low@640x480), fps
|FarCry (Highest@1600x1200), fps
|Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps
|Doom 3 (Highest@1600x1200), fps
The CPU power converter apparently does not affect performance. However, in view of using memory modules with different timings, this EVGA board is a tad slower than the reference models from XFX and Zotac. Besides, representatives of the NVIDIA chipset are undoubtedly no slower and no faster than representatives of the latest chipsets from Intel.
The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.
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