EVGA 780i SLI Motherboard Review :: nForce 780i SLI Chipset Features

02-10-2008 · Category: Motherboards

By Ben Sun

SLI Ready

True 3 x16 graphics
3-way SLI technology support with three NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra or GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards
SLI technology support with two identical SLI Ready graphics cards

System Performance Tools

ESA certified motherboard
NVIDIA Control Panel
NVIDIA System Monitor

Expansion Slots

PCI Express 2.0 support
62 lanes, 12 links: 3 x16* or 4 x8, 1 x16, 1 x8, 6 x1 *2 x16 are PCI Express Gen 2.0, 1 x16 is PCI Express Gen 1.0
Up to 5 PCI Slots

CPU

Intel Socket LGA775
Full support for Intel Penryn (Yorkfield & Wolfdale), Core 2 Extreme, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Duo, Pentium

Front Side Bus

1333/1066/800/533

Memory

Dual channel memory architecture
DDR2 1200(EPP1.0)/800/667/533

Storage

NVIDIA MediaSheild Technology
Up to 6 Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/s drives
Up to 2 PATA drives (Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33)
RAID configurations 0, 1, 0+1, 5

Networking

Dual native Gigabit Ethernet connections
NVIDIA FirstPacket technology
NVIDIA DualNet technology

USB

Up to 10 USB 2.0 ports

Audio

HDA (Azalia)



The NVIDIA nForce 780i chipset brings a lot of new features to the table not available in earlier NVIDIA chipsets. The 680i chipset that preceded it had 3-way SLI but only supported x8 mode when three cards were installed. The 780i is NVIDIA’s first motherboard chipset to support true 3 x16 SLI. This only works with 8800Ultra or 8800 GTX cards in SLI mode and is a rather costly VGA solution.

The 780i motherboards are also NVIDIA’s first chipset to fully support the PCI Express 2.0 Specification. This spec doubles the bandwidth available to the graphics card for the same number of lanes as the 1.1 spec of earlier chipsets. The nForce 780i MCP supports 62 PCI Express lanes when paired with the nForce 200 chip. When three x16 cards are installed, that leaves 14 lanes for other expansion.

The 780i SLI chipset supports all current Intel CPUs on the 1333MHz FSB and below officially including the Yorkfield 9650 series CPUs. While the 1600MHz CPUs have begun hitting the market place, the only motherboard chipset that officially supports the new FSB is the X48 chipset that is forthcoming. I was able to install a QX9770 on the board with the latest BIOS without issue, which is a good sign that the board will support the CPU unofficially.

Memory support on the nForce 780i SLI chipset is up to DDR2-1200. With the fastest DDR2 memory on the market being DDR2-1250, this makes perfect sense. As we move forward into 2008, DDR3 will become more prevalent as the replacement for DDR2. For now, DDR3 is only available on the Intel X38 platform and the forthcoming X48 and Skulltrail platforms, DDR2 will remain the memory of choice for the near future for most people to that and the fact the price of DDR3 is currently higher.

NVIDIA also introduced the nForce 200 chip which adds support for PCI Express 2.0 to their chipset. 32 PCI Express 2.0 lanes are supported by the nForce 200 chip which also allows a third card to be installed in PCI Express 1.0 specification. With four cards installed on nForce 780i board, the motherboard will operate in 4 x8 mode, but EVGA’s board doesn’t sport four x16 slots.

ESA is NVIDIA’s marketing name for their new software and hardware based monitoring system for their Enthusiast System Architecture. The ESA monitors and controls PC power supplies, chassis and water cooling systems. ESA can control the water temperature, RPM speed, and water level indicator on water cooling systems. ESA monitors the 3D temperature, fan speed control and light management of the chassis. ESA monitors the voltage, current and temperature of the PSU. ESA is controlled by a USB controller and does not deteriorate performance.