790i Ultra SLI Motherboards Compared

Onboard Devices

Asus Striker II Extreme (Revision 1.02G)
Northbridge Nvidia nForce 790i Ultra SLI SPP
Southbridge Nvidia nForce 790i Ultra SLI MCP
Voltage Regulator Eight Phases
BIOS 0901 (06/27/2008)
333.3 MHz (FSB-1333) 333.3 MHz (+0.0%)
Clock Generator Nvidia
Connectors and Interfaces
Internal 3x PCIe x16 (Transfer Modes: 2x 2.0, 1x 1.0)
2x PCIe x1
2x PCI 2.2
2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
1x Floppy
1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
6x Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s
1x S/P-DIF Out
3x Thermal Sensor Input
1x Asus LCD Poster Connector
1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)
5x Fan 3 pins (Chassis/Power)
1x Internal Power Button
1x Internal Reset Button
IO panel 1x PS2 (keyboard)
6x USB 2.0
2x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF optical + coaxial)
CLR_CMOS Button
1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
2x External SATA
2x RJ-45 Network
Mass Storage Controllers
nForce 790i MCP 6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, JBOD)
JMicron JMB363 PCI-E 2x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0, 1 JBOD)
Network
2x Marvell 88E1116-NNC1 PCI-E 2x Gigabit LAN Connection
Audio
Asus SupremeFX II Riser Card 7.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output
FireWire
VIA VT6308P PCI 2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

With a total of 28 lanes on the chipset’s southbridge and only sixteen dedicated to a third graphics card, Asus had no problem putting its eSATA and dual Gigabit network controllers on the remaining twelve. Even with the two PCI Express x1 slots taking up two lanes, seven lanes remain unused. One might question why Asus chose a PCI based IEEE-1394 FireWire controller, since so many PCI Express lanes went to waste, but the easy answer is that two 400 megabit devices can’t possibly saturate even the limited bandwidth of PCI.

Asus uses a riser card for audio, leaving the port panel with digital connections only. An ancient PS/2 keyboard port remains where we once found the mouse port, while the missing connector has been replaced with two USB ports. The chipset provides the HD audio signal from which Asus’ SupremeFX II riser card gets its signal, but the digital signal can also be pulled directly from the motherboard through coaxial or optical connections.

We also see a CLR_CMOS button on the back panel, which is an easy place to reach should an overclocking experiment fail. Those afraid that the port panel switch might be used unintentionally will find a disabling switch on the motherboard’s top side.

The SupremeFX II audio riser module carries all analog connections, including internal CD-Audio In and Front Panel Audio connectors. External jacks support eight output channels (7.1 audio) plus microphone and line inputs simultaneously. The card’s ADI 1988B is also capable of multi-streaming separate front panel and back panel signals when configured to do so.

Asus chose JMicron’s popular JBM363 controller for the Striker II Extreme eSATA ports. The motherboard doesn’t use this controller’s additional Ultra ATA interface, so it’s a mystery to us why Asus didn’t use a simpler, smaller part. PCI Express provides up to 250 MB/s of bandwidth in both directions simultaneously.

Twin Marvell 88E1116-NNC1 network controllers provide full Gigabit bandwidth bidirectionally, thanks to their PCI Express interfaces.

VIA’s VT6308P IEEE-1394 FireWire controller uses the old PCI interface, which is more than enough for two ports. One can clearly see how far into the bottom rear corner Asus has shoved its internal FireWire breakout header, causing cable routing issues for the front panel port of most ATX cases.

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  • trainreks
    FINNALY !!!! A Review on the 790i
  • doxicity
    Mystery Motherboard = GA-N780Ultra-DQ6?
  • Crashman
    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.
  • giovanni86
    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.
  • jaragon13
    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
  • 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.
  • Crashman
    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
  • Crashman
    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.
  • jaragon13
    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.
  • zer00000
    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."
  • ovaltineplease
    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.
  • sirrell
    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. :)
  • theLaminator
    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
  • Crashman
    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.
  • Crashman
    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.
  • efranchi
    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?
  • surfbum
    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
  • Niva
    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.
  • Crashman
    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.
  • anartik
    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.