NFORCE 780a SLI Motherboard Comparison

Test Hardware

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ProcessorAMD Phenom X3 8750
Row 1 - Cell 0 (Toliman B3, 2.40 GHz, 1.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3 Cache)
System MemoryCrucial Ballistix BL12864AA804.16FD3 PC2-6400
Row 3 - Cell 0 2x 1024 MB at DDR2-800, CL 4.0-4-4-12
Hard Drive (System)Western Digital Caviar 16 WD5000AAKS
Row 5 - Cell 0 500 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
Hard Drives (Empty)2x Gigabyte I-RAM BOX (4 GB SATA150)
Graphics CardGigabyte GV-NX88T512HPV1 (GeForce 8800GT)
Row 8 - Cell 0 700MHz GPU/1700MHz shader, 512MB GDDR3-1840
Sound CardAsus Xonar D2X (PCI-Express)
Power SupplyCoolermaster RS850-EMBA (850W, ATX12V v2.2)
System Software & DriversRow 11 - 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

amd phenom x3-8750

Under the B3 stepping, AMD’s recent improvements to its Phenom Line include the removal of TLB errata and improved overclocking capabilities. Its Phenom X3 8750 comes clocked at a relatively fast 2.40GHz.

msi k9a2-platinum profil

AMD also makes chipsets, so we grabbed MSI’s CrossFire-capable K9A2-Platinum to compare its CrossFire-enabled 790FX to NVidia’s 780a SLI.

gigabyte 8800gt

We tried Gigabyte’s factory-overclocked 8800GT to see what, if any, hybrid modes might be available with this particular model. Hybrid SLI was unsupported for this card using current drivers, but we still used it for benchmarks.

gigabyte i-ram box

RAID controller performance tests are limitted by both drive size and transfer rate. Tired of waiting overnight for results using standard hard drives, we chose two Gigabyte I-RAM Box units for extreme performance.

crucial pc3200 8go

The I-RAM Box doesn’t include memory, so Crucial sent eight 1GB DDR-400 CAS3 modules. Formerly top-value performance parts, DDR1 prices haven’t kept pace with DDR2. Still, these are a good value compared to competing DDR1 brands.

crucial ballistix

At least the motherboards themselves use somewhat modern memory. We chose two Crucial Ballistix PC2-6400 modules.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • nukemaster
    K10N780SLIX3-WiFi, thats Asrock naming all the way.
  • a 6pack in
    so after reading all this.. i think im stickin with my 790FX. i was waiting for a quite a while for nvidia to pull something here with the 780a chipset. In my eyes its a fail.

    AMD's 790FX chipset provides significantly more lanes than nvidia. 3-way SLI is a novel idea but at x8 lanes for 3 slots.. not so much. while amd is providing full x16 support.

    good info tho. if anything i would recommend the ASRock board also for nvidia's SLI path.
  • johnbilicki
    I wan to see boards with two 16x slots and one 4x slot. Honestly I'm not interested in 100+ FPS at 1024x768 or 1280x1024 which is what you'll get in most games with triple SLI. The MSI board looks like they could have fit a couple more USB ports next to the useless firewire port. It's 2008 and I have yet to even see a product require a firewire port on products I'm only browsing on sales sites like Newegg or even just review sites. I liked Gigabyte's new quad gigabit port motherboard, finally 8 USB ports on the back! Also if no one shows up with a router at your LAN party three of your buddies can merely connect to your system any way (and who doesn't have dual LAN ports these days besides your cheap who cheaps out by five bucks on a north bridge).

    What is with the waste of brackets? Give us four USB ports on a bracket. If you upgrade even only once every four or five years you probably still have about five or six brackets laying around somewhere with all the firewire ports you could ever want...and if not your buddies do.

    The dual-slot coolers on single slot cards, what a waste! If you're going to use a second slot don't waste the opportunity to move that hot air the heck out of the case!

    My last criticism is the i-ram...DDR-1?! I love Gigabyte when it actually bothers to make boards using chipsets I'd want (they skipped the true 16X SLI and jumped on the then useless AM2 bandwagon however). So why aren't we seeing DDR2 RAM-drives? 4x4GB/32GB would be far out of most people's budgets but a 4x2GB/16GB RAM drive at $40/$160 dimm/total would *own* a raptor raid 0 any day in price/performance.

    The manufacturers need to seriously start bringing some people in to the design rooms to question WTF they're thinking with their product designs because I see no reason to bother spending any money right now.

    ...and to clarify I enjoyed the article itself, it's just the products I hold disappointment in. The new chipset is great overall though.
  • nukemaster
    DDR is still faster then any hard drive interface anyway(DDR 266 @ 2128MB/s), so why not? its actually limited by its sata 150 interface not the ram(it would also max sata 300).

    I agree DDR2 is the way to go, but only because the price is much lower and better capacities. When gigabyte designed the I-ram ddr was cheaper and ddr2 was new and expensive.

    I think there is a DDR2 I-ram in the making
  • geralt
    I would like to see how 780a compares to boards with 780G chipset.
  • I own an evga 780i and I am plagued with the video corruption problem like many other nvidia 7 series owners. BEWARE before you invest on these boards. Nvidia hasn't released a fix in 3 months. Many people can't watch video or play games without encountering a hard lock-up.
    Video of problem: http: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=TYHuzJSpORw

    http: //www.evga. com/forums/tm.asp?m=253891&mpage=1&key=
    http: //nvidia.custhelp. com/cgi-bin/nvidia.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=2190
    http: //vip.asus. com/forum/view.aspx?id=20080407161030625&board_id=1&model=Striker+II+Formula&page=1&SLanguage=en-us
    http: //
    http: //digg. com/hardware/780i_nvidia_motherboard_graphics_corruption
  • jabliese
    No comparison of just the integrated graphics? One of the selling points for the 790 is it's DX10 support, would like to see some kind of comparison between just the integrated graphics, say, maybe on HDTV playback.
  • ComputerCustomizer
    When's an ASUS variant coming out?
  • Crashman
    An Asus variant is floating around the review sites, this site had a couple.
  • unifiedonboarddecoder
    They should also do the test using an ATi video card. I would like to see those benchmarks as well.