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Test Components

NForce 780a Hybrid SLI Tested
System Hardware
ProcessorAMD Phenom X3 8750, 2.40GHz, 1.5 MB L2 + 2 MB L3 Cache
MotherboardASUS M3N-HT Deluxe, BIOS 0708 (04/25/2008)
RAMCrucial Ballistix PC2-6400, 2x 2048 MB, CAS 4.0-4-4-12
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar 16 WD5000AAKS
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
NetworkingNVIDIA nForce onboard Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics CardsGigabyte GeForce 9800GX2, 1024 MB RAM
Gigabyte GeForce 8500GT, 256 MB RAM
Gigabyte GeForce 8400GS, 256 MB RAM
Power SupplyCoolermaster RS850-EMBA (850W, ATX12V v2.2)
System Software & Drivers
OSWindows Vista Ultimate 6.0.6000 (Vista Retail)
DirectX VersionDirectX 10.0
Platform DrivernVIDIA nForce Version 18.11
Graphics DrivernVIDIA ForceWare 175.14

The Asus M3N-HT Deluxe carries the flag for NVidia’s latest 780a SLI chipset, waving the Hybrid SLI banner high.

Hybrid Power and GeForce Boost both rely on discrete graphics processors for 3D performance, so we got a few from Gigabyte. The firm’s 9800GX2 part number GV-NX98X1GHI-B will allow us to access hybrid power efficiency on the most power-hungry of architectures, while its 8500GT and 8400GS, part numbers GV-NX85T256H and GV-NX84G256HE respectively, give us the current "spread" of GeForce Boost performance enhancement.

Many games are limited by the CPU rather than the graphics chip, so we needed a top processor model. AMD’s Phenom X3 has one more core than most games can support, uses the latest B3 stepping which has removed the previous TLB errata, and its X3 8750 comes clocked at an acceptable 2.40 GHz.

Heat is the enemy of stability, and while we’re not overclocking in today’s article the Zalman CNPS9700 prepares the same processor for future abuse.

We’ve used this same set of Crucial Ballistix through many builds, and its survival is a testament to its quality.

Another long-term survivor is Cooler Master’s Real Power Pro RS-850-EMBA, a unit that even withstood our previous system builder marathon’s 3-way SLI experiment...and the cabling tomfoolery required to connect the third card.

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