Nvidia has finally done its job thoroughly in the chipset market: its nForce 790i Ultra SLI is almost perfectly matched in both performance and overclocking to Intel’s X48 Express. The 790i Ultra SLI has a far greater number of features, however, chief among these three x16 graphics slots, two of which sport PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth.
You might have thought we’d say that the chief feature was SLI support, but that’s a driver restriction, not a chipset feature. If not for Nvidia’s persistence in withholding SLI support from other chipsets, the company might not have stayed in this particular market long enough to develop the extraordinary 790i Ultra SLI.
Some readers might be annoyed by Nvidia’s persistence, as the firm had formerly used SLI as a sledgehammer to force mediocre motherboards into the market. But the long-term benefit of improved features is undeniable, and the 790i Ultra SLI has become Nvidia’s first LGA775 product that we’d consider buying even if we didn’t plan to use SLI.
Which 790i Ultra SLI motherboard would we choose? One product stood out consistently by being the best overall performer, with the highest stable CPU clock speed, superior high-speed memory support, and the lowest VRM temperature. That product is the Asus Striker II Extreme.
Asus deserves an award for its effort. And so, for its leadership among 790i Ultra SLI motherboards in every important category, the Striker II Extreme receives our highest honor, the “Best of Tom’s Hardware” award.
Another motherboard stood out not for class-leading performance, but instead for its lower price. At $350, the XFX 790i Ultra SLI is a full $100 cheaper than the Asus Striker II Extreme. The XFX might not win any awards today, but nearly-matching the top model in features, performance and CPU overclocking with a product that costs around 25% less certainly deserves an honorable mention. The XFX 790i Ultra SLI could be the perfect motherboard for anyone who wants the Striker II Extreme but would rather put the price difference into other components.