NFORCE 780a SLI Motherboard Comparison

BIOS and Overclocking

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CPU Reference Clock200 - 600 MHz (2 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM RatioAll CPU On-Die Memory Controller Ratios
PCIe Clock100-200 MHz (1 MHz)
HT Link Multiplier1x - 13x CPU Reference Clock
CPU VcoreStock - 1.800 Volts (0.025 Volts)
MCT Voltage1.200 - 1.800 Volts (0.025 Volts)
HT Link Voltage1.200 - 1.575Volts (0.025 Volts)
PCI-E Voltage1.20 - 1.35 Volts (0.05 Volts)
nForce 780a SLI MCP Voltage1.20 - 1.575Volts (0.025 Volts)
DRAM Voltage1.80 - 2.50 Volts (0.10 Volts)
CAS Latency RangetCAS: 3-7; tRCD: 3-6; tRP: 3-6; tRAS: 5-18

MSI includes the most important overclocking adjustments at wide enough ranges to suite most users, including HT and PCI-Express clock adjustments that go well beyond the capabilities of the components they control. CPU core voltage is also aggressive at up to 1.80 volts maximum, while DRAM range is a little more conservative at 2.50 maximum volts.

msi k9n2-diamond cell-menu

MSI’s Cell Menu contains the most frequently used overclock settings, plus a few submenus for advanced controls. Minimal scrolling is required to reveal everything from the TLB bug fix control…

msi k9n2-diamond cell-menu2

…to spread spectrum settings. Unlike ASRock, MSI differentiates the labeling of the CPU’s memory controller and the motherboard’s “Northbridge”.

msi k9n2-diamond dram-menu

Unlike many of MSI’s Intel boards, this Socket AM2+ equipped model has “Automatic” configuration settings for individual timings. This is a great improvement, since moderately experienced builders can easily set common timings such as “CAS Latency” but rarely know the correct value for tRRD.

msi k9n2-diamond sauvegarde

The K9N2 Diamond provides two registers to store custom settings, making it easy to go back to a previous configuration after resetting BIOS.

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.