Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Software and Accessories

790i Ultra SLI Motherboards Compared
By

While we waited for a couple of competing brands to finish their 790i designs, the Asus marketing department ran out of review samples. Asus located a bare motherboard and a used retail box, but the package arrived missing a few small components, as well as the driver DVD. We downloaded the latest motherboard controlling applications from the Asus website.

AI Suite includes several utilities to control clock speed and voltage, as well as overclocking, underclocking or both, depending on the user’s choice.

The menus include AI Booster, CPU Level Up, and Asus Q-Fan. AI Booster provides manual frequency control, but uses automatic voltage control and gave us very little flexibility.

CPU Level Up is meant to adjust the CPU clock speed to that of a higher CPU model by increasing FSB clock, but since our E6850 is already the highest speed Conroe-core model, our only option was “Crazy”. The “Crazy” setting raised our VCore to 1.440 volts and the bus speed to FSB-1556, resulting in a 3.50 GHz final speed from our 3.00 GHz Core 2 Duo.

AI Gear includes mode settings of Auto, Turbo, High-Performance, Medium Power-Saving and Max Power-Saving. Turbo Mode increased our system to FSB-1400, while High-Performance Mode locked our system to stock CPU FSB speed. The Medium Power-Saving Mode dropped our system to FSB-1264, and Max Power-Saving Mode dropped it further to FSB-1200 while also decreasing the CPU multiplier to 6x. Auto Mode detects CPU load and adjusts between the highest and lowest speeds automatically.

EPU Monitor shows how much energy you are saving by enabling a power-saving mode, with a friendly animation to make you feel good about it.

The Asus PC-Pro II provides somewhat accurate information, with an alarm feature for any setting that falls outside a user-defined range.

Accessories
Documentation & Software Motherboard Manual
Motherboard Driver DVD
Game: Company of Heroes, Opposing Fronts
Chipset Fan Instructions
Hardware 1x SupremeFX II Audio Riser Card
1x Liquid Cooling Connector Kit
1x 3-Way SLI Bridge
1x 2-way SLI Bridge
2x Heatpipe Cooling Fan (Supplemental)
6x SATA Data Cable
1x Asus Q-Connector Kit
1x LCD POST Diagnostics Display
1x I/O Panel Shield
1x Floppy Cable
1x 80-conductor Ultra ATA cable
1x 4-pin to SATA power adapter (dual-device)
1x Port Breakout Plate (2x USB, 1x IEEE-1394)

Asus also includes an “LCD Poster” desk module, but it was one of the few things missing from our used accessory kit (we were successful at patching up the box however…using Photoshop). Also missing from this photo are the driver and game DVDs. Unique to the top products from Asus are the liquid cooling line adapter kit, and lighted port panel shield.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 59 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    trainreks , July 31, 2008 7:17 AM
    FINNALY !!!! A Review on the 790i
  • 0 Hide
    doxicity , July 31, 2008 7:21 AM
    Mystery Motherboard = GA-N780Ultra-DQ6?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 7:42 AM
    This was ALL OF THE AVAILABLE 790i Ultra SLI MOTHERBOARDS: Other graphics brands with NVIDIA reference boards INCLUDING EVGA are selling the same unit as XFX, even with the same BIOS (except for the boot logo). XFX was the only one who cared to send one.
  • 1 Hide
    giovanni86 , July 31, 2008 7:45 AM
    Thats what i was going to say!!! Thank god. Well i guess i made the right choice. XFX 790i, exactly what i am going to buy in the coming month. Just need to save for it XD.
  • 3 Hide
    jaragon13 , July 31, 2008 8:39 AM
    Who would pay four hundred dollars,when you can just buy a P45 for 100-150 dollars which has roughly the same real world experience as an X48 or 790I?
    Nah,I'd rather buy better and more reliable parts-such as power supply,processor,GRAPHICS CARD,and maybe go buy a rifle :p 
  • 6 Hide
    kitsilencer , July 31, 2008 9:37 AM
    $400 for a motherboard? What the hell is wrong with the X48 Express that people would rather consider buying a 790i? And it can't be because of SLI. Makes more sense to buy the X48 and Crossfire.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 9:39 AM
    jaragon13Who would pay four hundred dollars,when you can just buy a P45 for 100-150 dollars which has roughly the same real world experience as an X48 or 790I?Nah,I'd rather buy better and more reliable parts-such as power supply,processor,GRAPHICS CARD,and maybe go buy a rifle


    If you want SLI you're going to need an SLI motherboard. The article specifically stated that the reference design motherboard was almost as good in many ways as the winning board, but far cheaper.

    The site only has two awards, one is for top value and the other is for "best of the best". It's hard to award a $350 motherboard for top value, but it's not so difficult awarding the "best of the best" even if the price is outrageous
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 9:41 AM
    kitsilencer$400 for a motherboard? What the hell is wrong with the X48 Express that people would rather consider buying a 790i? And it can't be because of SLI. Makes more sense to buy the X48 and Crossfire.


    It does! Well, sorta. If you want the absolute fastest rig on the planet, you're going to need at least two, possibly three, GTX280's. But if you can wait a few days or maybe a couple weeks, you might be surprised at how well a Crossfire set of HD4870X2's can perform using an X48 motherboard.
  • 0 Hide
    jaragon13 , July 31, 2008 12:59 PM
    My point is that,even though you could theoritically have 3/4 GPU's all at once,you won't get nearly as much performance as you'd want.A simple 750I or P45 chipset will do nearly the same job.
  • 0 Hide
    zer00000 , July 31, 2008 1:13 PM
    It is a foxconn board i bet.I just read a review elsewhere with same stuff except it had an x48 chipset."All manner of goodies are bundled with the Black Ops: a 120MM fan, a plastic dry ice cooling pot for the Northbridge, and a Plexiglas "benching table" for open-air use."
  • 3 Hide
    ovaltineplease , July 31, 2008 2:02 PM
    For anyone thinking of grabbing these boards - confirm that the manufacturer has a bios fix for drive corruption if you intend to use RAID; its a known issue.
  • 0 Hide
    sirrell , July 31, 2008 2:22 PM
    Hey i just bought an EVGA's nForce 790i Ultra SLI 775 A1 Version Motherboard can you test this against them please?
    I wanna see how my motherboard performs against these. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    theLaminator , July 31, 2008 2:38 PM
    Why buy a 790i? Just wait for Nehalem and get a mobo with the x58 chipset. It supports SLI and CrossFire. Seems like the way to go to me. http://www.custompc.co.uk/news/604443/intel_x58_chipset_to_support_sli_and_crossfire.html
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 3:42 PM
    sirrellHey i just bought an EVGA's nForce 790i Ultra SLI 775 A1 Version Motherboard can you test this against them please?I wanna see how my motherboard performs against these.


    The EVGA motherboard WAS tested. It's the same motherboard as XFX sells. EVGA has never made a motherboard, it buys them from other companies, and in this case XFX and EVGA buy the SAME motherboard from the SAME company. Even the BIOS is the same, which you'd probably know if you read a little more of the article.

    XFX wants your business more than EVGA, which is why XFX sent a motherboard when EVGA did not. In fact, EVGA wouldn't even respond to the request.
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 3:45 PM
    theLaminatorWhy buy a 790i? Just wait for Nehalem and get a mobo with the x58 chipset. It supports SLI and CrossFire. Seems like the way to go to me. http://www.custompc.co.uk/news/604 [...] sfire.html


    X58 DOES NOT support SLI any more than the X48 did. Either motherboard could use the nForce 200 bridge to let NVIDIA's graphics driver SEE the "Compatibility". It's all driver tricks, as Intel chipsets supported SLI until NVIDIA locked Intel out in the graphics driver.

    So, we might see some X58 motherboards with an nForce 200, and we might also see some that don't have it. All that is well and fine if you're interested in waiting for the "next big thing". But if you want to buy now and instead wait for the next big thing...perhaps you'll see something else on the horizon by then, and never buy anything.
  • 0 Hide
    efranchi , July 31, 2008 4:09 PM
    mmhh...I would like if asus make a "ready-watercooled" motherboard. For someone who want a silent PC, watercooled, is there a motherboard better than evga 790 ultra black pearl?
  • 0 Hide
    surfbum , July 31, 2008 4:17 PM
    just so everyone knows, the "mystery motherboard" is a foxconn board. i was just on their website the other day and they had some information on this board which is no longer there. any they are the only company that has a LN2 cooling solution for the chipset
  • 0 Hide
    Niva , July 31, 2008 4:25 PM
    Looks like both nVidia and Intel are guilty of not providing information to each other. Intel for not giving the specs to run the 45nm chips and nVidia for restricting the driver on Intel chips... that second move by nVidia sounds borderline monopolistic. Surprised they haven't ended up in courts, no wonder tensions are so high between these companies.
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , July 31, 2008 4:34 PM
    NivaLooks like both nVidia and Intel are guilty of not providing information to each other. Intel for not giving the specs to run the 45nm chips and nVidia for restricting the driver on Intel chips... that second move by nVidia sounds borderline monopolistic. Surprised they haven't ended up in courts, no wonder tensions are so high between these companies.


    Both moves are monopolistic, but you could say NVIDIA delivered the first shot in this war since SLI has been restricted for so long.

    I was surprised about the news that Intel had traded "permission to use the nForce 200 on Intel chipsets" for its new CPU interface: That would mean Intel gets nothing (still has to buy an nVidia chipset component) while NVIDIA keeps on rolling.
  • 0 Hide
    anartik , July 31, 2008 4:56 PM
    Yup... all it took was the mention of the liquid nitrogen tower to know it had to be a 790i version of the Foxconn Blackops. If it does come out I hope it's considerably better and more reliable than their disaster of an X48 board. Hmmm... maybe thats why this board is delayed or cancelled. Just having a notable overclocker jump ship from DFI to Foxconn does not turn a traditional junk maker into a shining star.
Display more comments