iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

XFX nForce 790i Ultra 3-Way SLI and Zotac nForce 790i-Supreme

Two motherboards on NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset.

July 7, 2008



<< Previous page

     Next page >>

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec Realtek ALC888S (average analog audio quality, two independent S/PDIF-Outs), 7.10-ch audio, front line-ins/outs, optical and coaxial S/PDIF-Out jacks (another S/PDIF-Out can be plugged on a bracket)
  • 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 hardware firewall (read the details in the chipset description)
  • SATA-II, based on JMicron JMB362, supporting two SATA300 devices, including one eSATA (PCIEx1)
  • FireWire, based on Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A, supporting two devices (PCI)

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:


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.04 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -87.9 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 88.0 Good
THD, % 0.0054 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -79.4 Average
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.012 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB -85.2 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.012 Very good

General performance: Very good. As you can see in our test results, analog audio quality is on the standard good level for HDA codecs. What concerns interesting features of the codec implemented on the software level, we can mention DTS Connect (it allows to plug a computer to a multi-channel audio system in several ways and obtain surround sound) and Dolby Digital Live (encoding audio on the fly into AC-3 to output via S/PDIF).

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. We can only praise the chipset manufacturer here.

Settings


Jumpers and buttons Clear CMOS jumper  
Phoenix AwardBIOS 6.00PG Allows to disable specific CPU functions + disable individual processor cores, Hyper-Threading, Execute Disable Bit, Virtualization Technology, C1E Enhanced Halt State, Thermal Control (TM1/TM2/TM1&TM2/Disable), SpeedStep
Memory timings + By SPD, CAS Latency, RAS# to CAS# Delay, RAS# Precharge, RAS# Activate to Precharge, Command Clock (1T/2T), TRRD, TRC, TWR, TWTR, TFAW, TREF
Memory frequency selection + Linked (proportional to FSB clock rate): Auto, Sync (1:1), 3:2, 5:4, or Unlinked: 400-2500 MHz at 1 MHz steps (in fact, the step is noticeably bigger, it may reach 70 MHz)
Peripheral bus frequency control + PCI-E (separately for the first/second slot and the third slot): 100-200 MHz at 1 MHz steps
HT (between chipset bridges, clock rate): 200-500 MHz at 1 MHz steps
HT (between chipset bridges, multiplier): x1-x5 separately in each direction
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 400-2800 MHz at 1 MHz steps (in fact, the step is bigger, it may reach 10 MHz)
CPU multiplier + it's possible to use half-multipliers
CPU core voltage control + Auto, 0.51250-2.00000 V at 0.00625 V and 0.0125 V steps
Memory voltage control + Auto, 1.500-2.275 V at 0.025 V steps
Chipset voltage control + Northbridge: Auto, 1.30-1.55 V at 0.05 V steps
Southbridge: Auto, 1.50-1.75 V at 0.05 V steps
FSB voltage control + Auto, 1.20-1.55 V at 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS P03 dated 15.03.08, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested. Your combinations of overclocking BIOS settings (frequencies and voltages) can be saved into three profiles, which can be restored from BIOS Setup. The motherboard allows to choose a boot device during the POST procedure at startup by pressing a certain button (no need to enter BIOS Setup and change this parameter there).

Besides, you can change CPU GTL Reference Voltage Lane 0-3 from -155 to +155 mV.

We haven't tested memory modules with EPP 2.0 so far, even though the NVIDIA nForce 790i chipset is the first to support them. Theoretically, the situation should be similar to what we already saw with EPP and XMP: BIOS Setup will allow to choose one of performance profiles and adjust its parameters, when necessary.

Performance

The performance issue of this chipset, represented by the reference motherboard from NVIDIA (there must be no performance differences between XFX and Zotac products), has been analyzed in the NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI review.

Conclusions

When we review top reference motherboards from NVIDIA (regardless of the manufacturer), we always have to draw conclusions with regard to price tags. Unfortunately, this company sets disbursing prices for its solutions on the basis of its own principles, ignoring competing solutions. And retail prices are governed by NVIDIA's disbursing prices, not by marketing departments of XFX, Zotac, or EVGA However, if we take into account only functionality of the motherboard, without its supposedly excellent overclocking potential, we should admit that it's a usual top product, nothing more. A number of solutions (POST controller with a display, chipset cooling system) detach this reference motherboard on nForce 790i Ultra SLI from the usual products. But it's a unique solution only owing to its SLI support (including 3-Way SLI) in combination with Penryn support. If you are not interested in SLI, you may find a similar or better product, for example on Intel X48, but cheaper by $100.

An impressive bundle might have made up for the high prices. But in this case the box contains nothing extraordinary (only the Wi-Fi-g controller in Zotac box), even though the bundles include everything necessary. Thus, motherboards on nForce 790i SLI might have been much more interesting (they should be cheaper by $100). Unfortunately, we haven't heard about such products. No wonder, a decision to roll out a product is determined by potential profits it might bring (read the previous paragraph about the limitation), not by its retail prices.


Motherboards provided by their respective manufacturers.

Write a comment below. No registration needed!



<< Previous page

Article navigation:

Page 1: General description

Page 2: Monitoring, sockets, interfaces

Page 3: Packages

Page 4: Controllers, BIOS, conclusions



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.