NForce 780a Hybrid SLI Tested

Test Components

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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 WD5000AAKS500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
NetworkingNVIDIA nForce onboard Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics CardsGigabyte GeForce 9800GX2, 1024 MB RAMGigabyte GeForce 8500GT, 256 MB RAMGigabyte GeForce 8400GS, 256 MB RAM
Power SupplyCoolermaster RS850-EMBA (850W, ATX12V v2.2)
System Software & DriversRow 7 - Cell 1
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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • cappster
    I am interested in seeing a high end card paired with the hybrid graphics. It kind of leaves an empty taste in my mouth with just testing the low end crap cards.
  • scooterlibby
    "we were unable to test the chipset’s HybridPower capabilities"

    You'd think after writing this sentence they'd realize the article is pretty much moot, just read the title.
  • scooterlibby
    aggh nevermind I'm the idiot! I love you Tom's!! Take me back.
  • Why publish an incomplete article? Who wants an 8500 on a new board?
  • piratepast40
    Why is there no mention of the 780g platform and Hybrid Crossfire? The author makes it sound like Nvidia is the first out the door with the concept. I'm not saying one is better than the other but the bias is rather striking.
  • Crashman
    The article had to be published on release day, in spite of the motherboard failing before 9800GX2 testing could be completed. NVidia isn't going to be happy either, considering the target market of the chipset.
  • johnbilicki
    Asus is the Realtek of motherboards.

    You guys should RMA the board when it becomes publicly available provided it's not some supped up board merely for review purposes as Asus has been busted for. Oh whoever does the RMA should do it from home so they don't make the review connection so you can get the same crappy treatment I did.

    Then when you receive the RMA replacement please let us know if it's new or used and if there is any sperm on the north bridge.

    If the review wasn't marred by an Asus product then this would have been a top read. Well, at least we know nVidia has something fresh for AMD. We'll just have to wait until the Asus flood dries up so we can get reviews from manufacturers with class such as Gigabyte and MSI. Right now there is only decent true 16X+16X SLI motherboard for socket AM2 on Newegg, it's a Biostar motherboard.
  • wild9
    Many games are limited by the CPU rather than the graphics chip, so we needed a top processor model.

    Past a certain resolution, I think most games are limited by the GPU. Some games will show hardly any difference between a fast processor and a slow one, assuming both processors are modern dual-core parts. The differences between Intel and AMD processors can be large, but it's not consistent.
  • wild9
    So now we have nVidia 780a and AMD 780g chipsets..both available for AMD-based motherboards. This might lead to some confusion amongst prospective consumers.
  • wild9
    At the other end of the performance scale, the 9800GX2 is so powerful that the AMD Phenom X3 8750 is unable to keep up (Prey).

    lol, 112fps..that's more than enough - if you have a spare Phenom you don't need I can put it to good use :D