Board Layout and Features

EVGA 790i FTW
Market Segment High End-Gaming & Benchmarking
CPU Interface Socket T (Socket 775)
CPU Support LGA775-based Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Extreme, or Core 2 Quad Recommended
Chipset NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI SPP and MCP
Front Side Bus Speeds Auto, CPU default to 700 in 1MHz increments
DDR3 Memory Speed Auto, Linked and Unlinked
FSB Speeds 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
PCIe Speeds Auto, 100MHz - 200MHz in 1MHz increments
SPP-to-MCP Link Speeds Auto, 200-500MHz in 1MHz increments
HT Multipliers 1x-5x for SPP-MCP and MCP-SPP
Core Voltage Auto, 0.825V to 2.16V in 0.00625V increments
CPU Clock Multiplier 6x ~ 11x, downward adjustable for Core 2, upward to 31 for Extreme
DRAM Voltage:DDR3 Auto, 1.50V ~ 3.075V in 0.025V increments, 1.50V standard
DRAM Timing Control Optimal, Expert (tCL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, CPC, tRRD, tRC, tWR, tWTR, tFAW, tRFC and tREF)
DRAM Command Rate Auto, 1T, 2T
NB Voltage 1.30V - 1.57V in 0.05V increments
SB Voltage Auto, 1.50V ~ 1.75V in 0.05V increments
CPU VTT Voltage Auto, 1.10V ~ 1.625V in 0.075V increments
CPU PLL Voltage 1.50V ~ 1.80V in 0.1V increments
CPU Vdroop Compensation Enabled, Disabled
CPU GTL Individual Core Adjustments, Auto and Default and manual from -155mv to +155mv in 0.05mv increments
Memory Slots Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered DDR3 Memory to 8GB Total
Expansion Slots 3 - PCIe 2.0 x16, Supports up to NVIDIA 3-way SLI Technology
2 - PCIe (1.x) x1
2 - PCI Slot 2.2
Onboard SATA/RAID 6x SATA 3.0Gbps Ports - nForce MCP
NVIDIA Mediashield RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD
Onboard IDE Additional SATA JMicron JMB363 PATA Controller (up to 2 UDMA 133/100/66 devices) Up to 6 External eSATA ports configurable via BIOS
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 10 USB 2.0 Ports - (6) I/O Panel, (4) via headers
2x 1394a Ports - (1) I/O Panel, (1) via header
Onboard LAN with Teaming Dual NVIDIA nForce LAN with DualNet and FirstPacket Technology
Onboard Audio 8-channel HD Audio (Azalia) CODEC
Power Connectors ATX 24-pin, 8-pin ATX 12V
I/O Panel 1 x PS/2 Keyboard 1X PS/2 Mouse
1 x eSATA
2 x SPDIF - Optical Out, Coaxial Out
1 x IEEE 1394
2 x RJ45
8 X Audio Out
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
Fan Headers 6 - 1X CPU, (1) SPP and 4 Chassis
Fan Control CPU and Chassis Fan Control via BIOS
BIOS Revisions Used SZ15 and OC Test Beta


NVIDIA's layout is just about as good as it gets with a board crammed to the nines with expansion slots. During testing, we found most of what we needed to use was easily accessible. Cooling-wise, there are six fan headers onboard, two of which are dedicated to CPU and MCH cooling leaving you with four to populate as required. EVGA chose to go with solid polymer capacitors in all locations for power supply decoupling. These provide low ESR and the potential for a longer life than conventional 85C rated electrolytic capacitors.

MCH cooling is provided by a heatpipe and extruded sink that stretches from the Northbridge to the Southbridge. The PWM area is linked to the Northbridge via a heatpipe, while an additional heatpipe extends to a smaller heatsink to the right of the CPU socket to aid in thermal dissipation. The Northbridge sink comes with a screw-mounted fan attached to the nearby header. We found the stock cooling solution provides reasonable thermal performance for moderate overclocking. If you're going to push the SPP past 1.4V, we'd recommend you place a fan to blow over the PWM or use an additional heatsink to help lower temperatures.


Here's the main selling point of this board, a clean socket area that many who use alternative cooling methods adore. Personally, we've grown to have a love/hate relationship with Volterra's PWM solutions in the past. This is mainly because early renditions of this "electronically superior" solution had implementation issues in the cooling department. However, motherboards like the Foxconn Black Ops blew our convictions wide open with its ability to soak up punishment from a quad-core processor running 100% load tests with 1.8Vcore at 5.4GHz.

Although we get a similar 8-phase solution here on the EVGA board, we also get the smaller sibling MOSFETS that have a lower overall current handling capacity. We've seen these particular MOSFETS on DFI boards in the past, where we also experienced some board deaths due to improper heatsink retention (although this has now been improved). EVGA uses a fairly firm screw mounting system and based upon the results we've seen at the top of Futuremark's Orb, everything is working as it should be to provide more overclocking overhead than conventional PWM controller solutions. The EPS12V connector is located in the usual top right corner where removal and insertion of power leads is fairly easy.


Another "selling point" of the FTW variant is its three full x16 speed PCI-E slots, providing triple-SLI full bandwidth to strut its stuff. PCI-E x1 slots straddle the top PEG slot and we get an additional SATA port right at the top of the tree. Front panel audio and S/PDIF connectors are placed between the top PCI slot and the last 16x PCI-E slot. You will lose access to both PCI slots if you are one of the rare individuals that runs triple SLI.

The onboard speaker, power/reset buttons, two SATA ports, and remaining front panel, USB connectors, serial connector, and CMOS clear buttons are also placed along the length of the lower edge of the board. Most of these connectors will remain as accessible as they need to be when the board is mounted inside a PC case. A welcome addition is a standard socket-mounted BIOS chip, which allows for an easy swap out should the BIOS become corrupt.


Moving over to the lower right of the board we find two more SATA ports placed at a 90 degree angle. The hex code LCD display sits further up, with the floppy drive connector for a neighbor.


Memory slots are well placed enough not to hinder graphics card removal, and we also like the placement of the last four SATA ports that provide easy access regardless of how the PCI-E ports are populated. ATX12V has enough clearance too.


Finally, we move onto the rear panel. We get the standard PS/2 mouse and keyboard inputs together with S/PDIF and TOSLINK digital connectors. eSATA and FireWire ports are also present alongside the 8-channel 3.5mm connector hub. Six USB connectors are available for use on the rear panel and two RJ45 LAN connectors round off the connector saga.

Index Testbed Setup
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  • wongstein - Saturday, November 8, 2008 - link

    I don't know why AnandTech had so many problems OC'ing with this mobo. I put a Q9400 to 3.4 GHz at 4*425 with Patriot Extreme 1600MHz RAM running at 1700MHz, and it's rock solid. There's no FSB hole that I could find in all my experimentation. That's on air cooling (w/ cheap Coolermaster Hyper TX2) never going above 55 degrees in a normal room, even with all for CPU cores maxed at 100% with Prime95. I know that's not very extreme, but it runs rock solid and faster than a HP or Dell XEON Workstation costing two or three times as much. I could have pushed the RAM even further, and I would have if the computer was mine, but it's for a friend, and the performance benefit would not have been worth it.

    The extra money spent on this motherboard is well worth it. It's the foundation of your system. There's plenty of SATA and E-SATA ports, and very good, quality RAID onboard. All the features, build quality and even the accessories are all top notch. There's plenty of speed-controlled fan headers, unlike cheaper mobos where most of the fan headers are power-only, so you can make your machine as quiet as need be. That's worth the investment to me. All the slots and plugs are high quality - they feel solid, and the PCI slots have positive locks. The BIOS loads faster than my cheap MSI P35 NEO2, and the BIOS is much easier to use, and everything is available for configuration. Re-configuring after OC failures is also much quicker with this mobo, just 'cause you're back in the BIOS and out again with less waiting.

    Everything is just nicer with a top-notch board like this (or those from other brands), and it's a pleasure to use (and own).

    Cheers
    Reply
  • ger32 - Friday, August 10, 2012 - link

    Wongstein,

    I own the same 790i SLI FTW motherboard you own. and I have one question for you: Is it a 64 bit motherboard? In other words, can I install Windows 7 64-bit OS with this motherboard ? I have an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550s processor and the packaging does indicate 64-bit architecture. Your reply would be most appreciated. Thank you.

    /Jerry
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    nV RAID sucks butt, any changes there?

    I have a friend with a 680i and we put 5 x 640GB drives in his machine.
    Planned on creating a single large R5 Raid Group which would be approx 2.5TB. Then I wanted to carve this into 2 volumes. a 500GB boot/apps/games and a just barely less than 2TB storage volume.

    We chose 5 drives because I found an article that talked about how R5 performance on nVRaid sucks so badly UNLESS you use a 3 or 5 drive array and setup the RAID Stripe size the right way.

    Anyway, the nVRaid did not have a way to cut the single 2.5TB drive into 2 logicals to be presented to the OS.
    And since almost all PC mobos still use BIOS, you cannot see more than 2TB on a single volume if it will be part of the boot drive in the machine. So Windows XP and Vista both show only a 500GB drive visible (After 2TB it looped over and only showed what was >2TB)

    Had this been a Intel chipset, we would have had access to Matrix RAID and could have created a Striped OR R5 600/500 GB drive and then created a second Raid Group with a 2TB R5 volume and at the OS level they would have appeared to have been different drives. This would have allowed us to install on the 500 or 600 GB drive and then even if the other drive was > 2TB, I would have at least had the option in Windows to create the volume as a GPT Partition using Vista and it would still work.

    Stuff likes this make it clear that nVidia only seems to care about gamers and not Enthusiasts who also happen to game.

    I will be buying an X58 board myself because it will be the first board in a long time (excluding Skulltrail) that will have all the great Intel Chipset features AND support SLI.
    Reply
  • daniyarm - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    Doesn't matter how good the motherboard is, I still can't believe some people would pay over $300 for MB. Price/performance goes exponential after $150 for MB and $250 CPU. Better to get cheaper MB and CPU and get another GPU. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    completely, totally, utterly agree. Heck, you can get a nice overlock with a $100 MB, and then get a MUCH better GPU. Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    Oh, its the PCP&P power supply!!!!
    No wonder I could find nothing - heh
    Reply
  • cesthree - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    How is it that EVGA STILL finds it acceptable to release BETA BIOS releases on their products?

    This chipset is nearly a YEAR old!! It should be WTF, as in What The Flick is EVGA thinking?

    No product is free from issues. With the same CPU and RAM on a DFI UT LP X48-T3RS, I was finally able to ENJOY my equipment. One week to OC, been rock solid ever since. You'll notice DFI never actually marketed the 790i chipset, hmm I wonder why?

    No FSB holes, no data corruption at STOCK SPEEDS, no unexplainable SLI anomalies like graphic corruption or freeze-ups in games or while watching videos.

    EVGA is brave. They'll probably have to install new servers and hire another 100 techs to answer the 1000 pages of threads with the title "FREEZEING UP AT STOCK SPEEDS, HELPXOR M3!!!" or "WILL WE EVER GET AN ANSWER FROM YOU EVGA?"

    It'll be 6 months and EVGA will release a BIOS that should "smooth" everything out. Too bad the enthusiast world will already have forgotten about those shoddy Nvidia NB chipsets.

    I get sick even thinking about an X58 that get's infected by that Dinosaur of a chip NF200. Nvidia, stop being so proprietary and focus on just one thing, make your GPU's work, that's it, nothing else.
    Reply
  • sabuus - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    Dont worry, x58 will not need the NF200 chip, MB makes will just have to pay a licencing fee to enable SLI on thier boards :) Reply
  • WT - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    LoL .. sounds like you've owned a few of those eVGA boards ?? Likewise. I'm on my second now, but my 750i FTW is bulletproof (knock on virtual wood). Reply
  • cesthree - Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - link

    Upgrade build this year was in FEB 2008. Last build was an A64 system back in 2005.

    Bought EVGA 780i, 790i Ultra was released so I "stepped-up" to it and picked up some DDR3.

    Both boards were somewhat stable with Q6600 and 2x2GB OCZ REAPERS up to 3.2 to 3.4 GHZ, but I could never use the FSB that I wanted due to the HUGE FREAKIN HOLES both of those NB's have.

    Tried an E8400 on the 790i Ultra, meh.

    SLI'd at the same time with an EVGA 8800GTS 320MB. Again, neither board like SLI. Games were very buggy, although excellent WHEN they worked. LOTS of freezes and crashes.

    Stepped up from that 8800GTS to a 9800GTX. Single GPU with my X48-T3RS has been a dream come true for the last 5 months or so. That's all I wanted to upgrade to. Now I can hit 3.6 Ghz on air with the same Q6600, and 4.0Ghz on air with the E8400.

    DFI's BIOS really shines, and I don't have to crank the FSB above 1700 Mhz to OC either. I can if I want to, but I'd rather drop it down a bit for my day to day computing needs. I don't benchmark for a living with my rig, but it's nice to use CMOS reloaded if I feel like tweaking a bit.

    4 months of trouble on what was supposed to be my "New Build" with relatively new "Technology"

    I know EVGA has "excellent" tech support, but Nvidia needs to at least apologize for their equipment being so hit or miss.

    I couldn't see spending the same amount that I did on the board in RMA shipping costs, so I ditched the Nvidia NB chipset all together.

    Great policy by EVGA, but in my opinion, they couldn't GIVE me one of there boards, unless I could immediately eBay for the cold hard cash!
    Reply

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