NFORCE 780a SLI Motherboard Comparison

Onboard Devices

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ChipsetnForce 780a SLI
PCIe 2.0 BridgenForce 200
Voltage RegulatorSix Phases
BIOS31b (04/18/2008)
200 MHz HT Clock203.2MHz (+1.6%)
Clock GeneratorICS 9DB403DGLF
Connectors and InterfacesRow 6 - Cell 1
Onboard3x PCIe x16 (Modes: x16/x16/x1 or x16/x8/x8)
Row 8 - Cell 0 1x PCIe x1
Row 9 - Cell 0 2x PCI
Row 10 - Cell 0 2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)
Row 11 - Cell 0 1x WiFi USB Mini-Card Header
Row 12 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Row 13 - Cell 0 1x Serial Port header
Row 14 - Cell 0 1x Floppy
Row 15 - Cell 0 1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)
Row 16 - Cell 0 1x Serial ATA to eSATA pass-through port
Row 17 - Cell 0 6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
Row 18 - Cell 0 1x Front Panel Audio
Row 19 - Cell 0 1x CD-Audio In
Row 20 - Cell 0 1x S/P-DIF Out
Row 21 - Cell 0 1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)
Row 22 - Cell 0 1x Fan 3 pins (Chassis/Power)
IO panel2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)
Row 24 - Cell 0 1x RJ-45 Network
Row 25 - Cell 0 6x USB 2.0
Row 26 - Cell 0 1x External SATA
Row 27 - Cell 0 1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Row 28 - Cell 0 2x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF optical + coaxial)
Row 29 - Cell 0 6x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)
Row 30 - Cell 0 1x WiFi Antenna Connector
Mass Storage ControllersRow 31 - Cell 1
nForce 780a SLI6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 capable)
Row 33 - Cell 0 1x Ultra ATA 133 (2-drives)
NetworkRow 34 - Cell 1
Realtek RTL8111B PCI-EGigabit LAN Connection
Realtek RTL8187L USB802.11g/b Wireless Network Interface
AudioRow 37 - Cell 1
HD Audio Controller InterfaceRealtek ALC890B 8-channel Codec
FireWireRow 39 - Cell 1
VIA VT6308S PCI2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

Performance enthusiasts don’t always need the additional features that often accompany top-end boards, so ASRock shoots for value by reducing the number of onboard controllers. A single Gigabit Ethernet controller is supplemented by a WiFi adapter, but the K10N780SLIX3-WiFi has no auxiliary RAID controller or second Gigabit port.

The port panel thus fills basic needs, with the exception of a WiFi antenna connection that marks the board’s only excess. ASRock gets rid of legacy Parallel and Serial ports but keeps the PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, and offers both optical and coaxial digital audio outputs.

k10n780slix3-wifi panneau arrière

Most noticeably lacking of the K10N780SLIX3-WiFi’s rear ports are any video outputs, which is requirement for the 780a SLI chipset’s “HybridPower” power-savings feature. The nForce 200 PCI-Express bridge still provides standard and 3-way SLI configurations without the potential energy savings, while lower-market buyers will appreciate the same “GeForce Boost” feature also found on lower-cost nForce 8000 series chipsets.

asrock k10n780slix3-wifi alc890b

Audio comes from the Realtek ALC890B codec, with eight audio channels (7.1 surround) and 110db rated signal-to-noise ratio.

asrock k10n780slix3-wifi vt6308s

IEEE-1394 FireWire (aka, 1394a or FireWire 400) is slow enough to use a PCI interface without any additional performance limits, so ASRock connects one of the 780a SLI’s five PCI interfaces to connect a classic VIA VT6308S controller.

asrock k10n780slix3-wifi rtl8211b

The 780a SLI has three spare PCI-Express x1 pathways, and ASRock routs these across two slots and one onboard controller. The Realtek RTL8211B Gigabit Ethernet controller uses the interface to provide bull bandwidth to both uploads and downloads simultaneously.

asrock k10n780slix3-wifi rtl8187l

ASRock’s USB-based 802.11G wireless network adapter is identical to earlier Asus parts, right down to the model number on the lower rear corner. A Realtek RTL8187L does the work.

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.