NVIDIA's 790i Arrives: SLI Rides Again

by Kris Boughton on 3/18/2008 9:00 AM EST


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  • jiulemoigt - Thursday, March 20, 2008 - link

    I would have thought that with that much gpu power you would have tested AA, or better than medium settings? Seems like the article was slanted to favor the new quad sli which should be giving you all max settings yet looks like 6 fps is what you get... Reply
  • FITCamaro - Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - link

    It's pretty sad how motherboard prices have ballooned in the past 2 years. You used to pay $200 tops for a motherboard. Now we're getting models routinely at $250, $350, and now even $350.

    Now days your motherboard can cost more than both your CPU and memory combined.
  • halcyon - Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - link

    nVidia is of course trying to milk the heat seekers and first adopters, who will pay anything for a few micro fps more.

    But prices like this will mean that the whole series will sell a few thousand boards worldwide. And manufacturers will be burned (those that got on board to start with, not too many btw).

    I think nVidia is in the rope when it comes to the mobo business and it's starting to show.

    Products are problematic, late, overpriced and offer very little benefit to the majority of users aren't going to sell very well.

    If nVidia wants to stay in the mobo business, they need to make a product that:

    - can compete with Intel's cheap/fast chipset (currently P35)
    - uses much less energy (P35 is much more energy efficient than anything from nVidia)
    - just works (more debugging/testing, not everybody wants to be a hardcore tweaker)
    - is priced lower than Intel (let's face it, when did nVidia make a chipset that was more compatible/more reliable than an Intel counterpart? If they are worse, they need to cost less, not more)

    I don't see this day happening anytime soon, hence I see the future of nvidia mobo chipset business as quite bleak.
  • Restroom - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Okay, perhaps I'm just far enough out of the loop now to have missed out on the part where anyone bothers benching anything at medium quality when the products being compared don't differ on supported capabilities (a new pixel shader implementation, for example) which would be evident only when the game's cranked up all the way.

    Maybe for the sake of this particularly evil app it makes sense to even out test methodology by paring things out to Medium so bigger charts can be compiled in future without totally excluding less-capable hardware. Maybe.

    What I really don't understand is why we have independent resolution setups; testing for scaling (which in Crysis' case seems to be, obtusely, limited by the software much more than the hardware) rather than testing a more meaningful component-integration/observed-capability hypothesis. This is a motherboard we're testing (at least that's what EVGA would say if you asked) and it really hoses things up when you have to look at not only so many combinations of vastly different components and setups, but try also to divine meaning from this wild-hair test of resolution scaling thrown in the mix.

    I realize I'm not being real coherent, so I'll wrap it with a simpler question: We don't buy these sorts of components so we can willingly make a compromise between pretty and fast, so why bother telling us how much of a compromise we'd be making and totally neglect to tell us what it'll be like when we inevitably crank the quality all the way up and see if we can still play it?
  • quanta - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Too bad it doesn't include performance results of the I/O component, particularly Networking. It seems people are avoiding it like plague even since the nForce4 ActiveArmor bug. Reply
  • poohbear - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    $350-$400 just for a mobo!?!?!? are they on crack?!!?!? this is the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard since 1000wt psus. c'mon for the love of god, i bought my top of the line DFI expert for $180 a few months after release, what could possible justify $350-$400 for a mobo?

    Tell me they're gonna make a non sli version for the rest of us?
  • lopri - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    I do understand that folks who will purchase a board based on 790i has SLI as a priority, but AT as of late tends to get marveled at advancing technology at the cost of basic functionality of such. How come all the relevant features are not tested for normal usage?

    Disk controller test? RAID test? Do SATA device and PATA device get along? How about the new eSATA? Is it functional and performing as expected? (It's a new revision MCP55 according to the review)

    How about Blu-Ray playback, whether the ROM is SATA or PATA? Is there any issue?

    The review mentions that when 3-way SLI is employed the other PCIe slots render useless. That's fine but how about when one or two video cards are used? In that case all PCIe slots function normally?

    Memory overclocking is nice and all that, but is the board handling DIMMs of various flavors without a trouble? Do the board handle 4 sticks of DIMM as well as it does 2? How about 2GB sticks? Well, one could argue that this is a moot point since DDR3 is expensive but then the whole thing is. I think it is appropriate since the review went on in length to detail the technical aspects of DIMM slots as well as the new memory controller.

    And there is the issue of power regulation. Better power delivery for overclocking is nice, but only if the board has mastered the basics. Are the fan headers working as they should, be it from a normal boot or wake-up from sleep? All the power-related features (S1/S3/EIST, etc.) that have been problematic on NV chipsets, especially under SLI - are they fixed?

    Talking about the fan, there is no mention of thermal characteristics of the chipset and also lacking is how loud/efficient the default fan is. (as well as RPM control) NV chipsets are infamous and I don't think the reviewer isn't aware of this. So it only leaves readers an impression that the review chose not to mention it.

    Also missing is the chipset's power consumption figure, network performance, compatibility with various add-in cards.. The list goes on and on and on. The chipset having the same south bridge from 680i/780i can't be an excuse. That south bridge lived through even more chipsets as we understand.

    Then there are the charts. Different GPUs, different NUMBER of GPUs, different chipsets, and CPU frequencies all over (overclocked, of course, and I don't see the point of it) - mix them up and we are presented with un-readable mess. It's no wonder that there looks to be erroneous data. (On page 12, X48/8800GTX is consistently slower than 790i/8800GTX by 30~40% with the same CPUs. Does that make sense? If so, should't there be some kind of explanation?)

    From this review, users can hardly draw a conclusion on the performance of the chipset, let alone everything else. It'd make a interesting introduction on a new tech, but at the same time a misleading introduction on an upcoming product to actual users. (I thought this was a 'Review', not a 'Study'. If I'm mistaken please let me know.) This has been a trend in AT motherboard review as of late and I for one am somewhat disappointed because I cannot seem to obtain the information that's meaningful for actual usage. Working together with hardware manufacturer is important, but end-user perspective should be the priority No. 1, IMHO.
  • saivarnos - Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - link

    I to agree with the points made above. I am a technically savy person but finding articles of worth on AT has become increasingly difficult - for the layperson and the technically adept. What happened to the good old days of articles titled and delivered like "Price And Performance, 10 motherboards that are fighting for your money!" and then proceeded to deliver on that title. It used to be in the not so distant past that when I came to this site and just a couple others I would have a chipset and motherboard purchase decision made within about an hour of scanning articles, if I wanted the extra technical specifications and the like I could read them, if not I could leave them, now they appear integral to the articles posted here an actually detract from instead of adding value to the article. AT I love you guys, but GO BACK TO YOUR ROOTS! Reply
  • skinflickBOB - Sunday, March 23, 2008 - link

    I guess you deserve your money back Lopri, anyone would think it costs you money to click the mouse button and come over to read somebodies review. NOT!

    It's essentially a free site for us readers.. Oh yeah, I know it pays the site for us to click, but you just sound like someone who is eternally ungrateful for anything other than what you do yourself.


  • seamusmc - Thursday, March 20, 2008 - link

    I'm another that agrees with Lopri.

    Please review more of the features the board provides. I'm particularly interested in disk and RAID performance, areas the NVidia chipsets have always been lackluster in.
  • ATWindsor - Wednesday, March 19, 2008 - link

    I couldn't agree more, features is all well and good, but only if things works and are stable. No wonder people find it daunting to build a computer, even when you have done it several times you risk going into som "trap" with things not working the way it should, more focus on this in reviews please.

  • theYipster - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    I agree with Lopri in every regard. AT needs to stop masquerading these technical showcase articles as reviews. In addition to what Lopri already mentioned, I would add that AT failed to a) address the long standing concerns held throughout the enthusiast community over nForce product quality (regarding the paragraph on PWM design... very undwerwhelming considering that it doesn't offer support to its claim) and b) failed to provide a fair assessment of the value proposition these boards provide. The article states that the 790i provides a noticeable step up in performance over previous generations, and that owners of previous boards would find upgrading worthwhile. This is a bold claim, as such an upgrade would cost nearly $1000 (when factoring in new DDR3 RAM) and would not even include a new CPU or graphics card. Yes, the NB runs a bit cooler and can OC a bit farther, but how and why is that worth $1000, even to the enthusiast who can afford it easily? Lets also consider the grander scheme of things. What worth is it for someone who enjoys the latest and greatest to spend $350 on a board when Nehalem will change all the rules in less than a year. At least previous generations (as well as Intel's X38) provide some shelf life.

    In any case, Overclock3d.net has a very informative review of the Striker II Extreme which covers almost everything Lopri mentioned.

  • ssiu - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    "The EVGA 790i Ultra also handled our QX9770 sample with relative ease. We were able to benchmark and play games without incident at 400MHz FSB, our mark of excellence when it comes to quad-core overclocking."

    That is a low standard of excellence for a high-end chip. The Q9300/Q9450 overclockers are going to cry.
  • greylica - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Mwahaha, some will say :
    " Now we can finnaly play crysis ! "
    Well done, 66 fps...
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    We can for a very long time.
    I do it with 1920x1200 at all Med + 4AA
    I have the 680i (P5N32-E SLI) + E6300@2.8GHz (not the maximum, but lower fan speed = less noise) + 4GB OCZ ReaperX @ 800MHz 4-4-3-12 1T and single reference design 8800GT from ASUS at stock clock (the only modified sing, is stock cooler replaced with Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 which reduced card temp by 25C)
    As you can see MB - year old, CPU 1.5 years old.
    I can't tell you the exact fps, but it's completely smooth playing.
    I expect next generation to bring same smooth play at all very high + all filterings for existing games.

    BTW, where 9800x2 in SLI tests on this 790i ?
  • SpaceRanger - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    When do you think nVidia will be putting out these boards for AMD CPU's. The only thing I see for AMD CPU's are boards that support CROSSFIRE, but not SLI. Reply
  • ap90033 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    It just costs to MUCH. I got 8 GIGS DDR2 800 an E8400 and a Single 8800GTS 512 meg, and I have the CPU Running at 3.6 (I am looking to try 3.8 maybe) and I can play any game maxed except Crysis. I can play it at high at 1024x768. I looked at SLI but its to danged expensive, I had 1220$ to spend and decided to get the most performance for the money. I wish they would quit going up in price on these motherboards, hey Nvidia, you do know I can get a GREAT Overclockers motherboard with good features (NO SLI OF COURSE) for $80 right? Why would I pay $250+ more for the board, another $200+ more for DDR3 Ram, and another $250 for another 8800GTS just so "some" games would run 15% faster? Are you nuts??? 10-15% but it costs like $800 MORE???? I think Ill save my $800 or so and use it on my next video card upgrade, my next CPU upgrade, and the next video card upgrade after that! LOL Reply
  • krnmastersgt - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Because this isn't meant at the people that want the best price/performance, this is for the uber-high end user, the extreme benchmarker/extreme gamer, of course by your logic SLI and CrossFire are stupid wastes of money since the performance doesnt scale linearly, but this is meant for enthusiasts and therefore you shouldn't compare it with something like a P35 board. Reply
  • crimson117 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    As an example, I was helping configure a Dell for a home office user, non-gamer, no video editing, etc, but he was fairly well-off money-wise. While picking options, at one point I said something about some component being "plenty for most users" and he replied (in a nice way) "I'm not most users"; so we went with the upgraded version even though the price performance, especially for his usage pattern, didn't make fiscal sense.

    The moral is there are people out there who get satisfaction over having the absolute best no matter the price.

    Relatedly, an experiment found that people perceive $90 wine as tasting better than $10 wine, even when it was secretly http://www.news.com/8301-13580_3-9849949-39.html">the same exact wine.

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