EVGA has announced a new motherboard based on Nvidia’s popular nForce 790i SLI chipset. The EVGA 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM supports DDR3 memory, a 1,600MHz front-side bus, PCI Express 2.0, and—according to EVGA—a bevy of electronic, mechanical, and BIOS features to facilitate aggressive overclocking.
Digital power management is this socket-775 board’s primary claim to fame. EVGA maintains that giving the user precise control over how the high-voltage power line is stepped down to the required processor core voltage will provide increased stability while overclocking (the PWM acronym in the $340 board’s name stands for pulse width modulation; we can guess what FTW stands for). EVGA claims that their use of solid-state capacitors and 100-percent ferrite-core chokes should also improve the board’s signal-to-noise ratios in extreme overclocking situations.
The 790i Digital PWM will also allow experienced overclockers to disable Vdroop from within the BIOS. Vdroop is a design feature inherent to Intel’s CPU architecture; it protects the CPU from voltage spikes as the processor swings between light and heavy workloads. EVGA maintains that Vdroop can be a problem for aggressive overclockers. If you increase the core voltage to 1.5 volts, for example, Vdroop might overcompensate during one of these workload swings and cause voltage to the core to momentarily sag to 1.4 volts, causing the system to become unstable. With Vdroop disabled, according to EVGA, voltage flowing to the core should remain relatively constant. EVGA reasons that overclockers will equip their rigs with improved cooling solutions and better-quality power supplies, factors that they believe render Vdroop unnecessary.
Those interested in achieving the benefits of overclocking without the risk of blowing up their computer, on the other hand, will appreciate the noob-friendly features in EVGA’s BIOS, including a collection of pre-validated voltage settings that will deliver five to 25-percent overclocking without risk.
And for those who prefer to benchmark their components without mounting everything inside a case, the motherboard features power-on and reset buttons right on the PCB; the power-on button even has an integrated hard drive activity LED. Another button will reset the board’s CMOS values. Other hardware features on the motherboard include the presence of two 1GB NICs, nine SATA ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports, an onboard LED for displaying POST codes, and four DIMM slots to accommodate up to 8GB of DDR3 memory running at up to 2GHz in dual-channel mode.