First Look: Nvidia nForce 780i SLI

December 17, 2007 | 14:21

Tags: #45nm #780i #board #cpu #geforce #mcp #motherboard #nf200 #nforce #northbridge #sli #southbridge

Companies: #intel #nvidia

The nForce 780i MCP

The south bridge is again, very familiar, so much so that it even reads NF570 – yes this is the same chip that was introduced back with the AMD-based nForce 590 SLI some 18 months ago. It has been upgraded to A3 silicon and now includes "ESA support" and to be honest, the feature set is still very current and most people probably still don't need more than it offers, however it has begun to fall short of leading edge in a few areas.

For example, Intel's latest ICH9 southbridge now supports twelve USB 2.0 compared to the NF570 MCP's ten, and considering a SATA DVDRW will cost you the same or less than an IDE one now, six SATA 3Gbps ports is becoming a little short – especially for us enthusiasts where these boards are aimed at. We always want progression and a reason to buy the latest and greatest!

Let’s not also forget that these chipsets weren't exactly the coolest on earth either – 18 months is more than enough time for a re-spin, and considering the cost benefit Nvidia and its partners could have from the size reduction in chipsets and physical cooling parts, I'm not entirely sure why it hasn't pursued that avenue.

In contrast, AMD still makes the coolest running chipsets and Intel's ICH9 south bridge or even P35 north bridge doesn't exactly require a mammoth cooler. In some ways, Nvidia has learnt from the overheating disaster that was the nForce 680i SLI—at least the heatsinks are now far larger on the XFX board to the left in the picture below—but that doesn't cure the underlying heat problem only made worse by the extra NF200 chip it now has to cool. In a world of cost conscious performance per watt, Nvidia is quite frankly sucking on the motherboard front.

First Look: Nvidia nForce 780i SLI The nForce 780i MCP and the nForce 750i SLI First Look: Nvidia nForce 780i SLI The nForce 780i MCP and the nForce 750i SLI
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Nvidia nForce 750i SLI

The 750i SLI is near identical sibling the nForce 650i SLI. This mainstream part has been updated only to include the NF200 PCI-Express 2.0 chip. While this is great because it provides twice the bandwidth of PCI-Express 1.1, because it's wired into x8 lanes, at the end of it you only get the bandwidth of a single PCI-Express 1.1 x16 slot.

On the south bridge front, the chipset still uses the old NF430 south bridge that was used back with nForce4. If you're dying to keep your legacy IDE drives when you upgrade next year – this might be the only chipset to consider. Legacy support is great for mainstream upgraders with little money to spend, but unless this board is very inexpensive (as it should be with three year old technology) then there's just no progression here. It may compete directly with AMD's SB600 in this respect, but it's far behind the Intel competition with its ICH9.

There's also no ESA support, still no EPP support and not even the Nvidia System Monitor! If anything, the NF200 chipset is simply wasting power, costing money to cool and wasting space – Nvidia should have made the nForce 680i SLI LT chipset the new nForce 750i SLI instead.

First Look: Nvidia nForce 780i SLI The nForce 780i MCP and the nForce 750i SLI

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