780i SLI Sneak Peek - Tour the 780i SLI Motherboard

Article Index
780i SLI Sneak Peek
3-Way SLI and Chipsets
Tour the 780i SLI Motherboard
780i SLI BIOS and Final Thoughts

Tour the 780i SLI:

As mentioned previously, the 780i still supports DDR2 - which in my opinion is a good thing.  Although DDR3 has more bandwidth - in theory, advantages of this more expensive RAM are not evidenced in many real-world applications at this time.  DDR2 still has some life left in it, although the 790i SLI that is currently slated for a February '08 release will be DDR3 ready and will start to cramp DDR2 sales in the enthusiast market.

DDR2 Slots
DDR2 Slots

 

This board supports up to 16GB of DDR2 and comes with a few nice extras.  Enthusiasts and hardcore tweakers will appreciate the Diagnostic LED display that will emit codes based on computer issues or stability.  These codes haven't changed much and the enthusiast will be happy when everything is "FF".

Diagnostic
Diagnostic

 

Also on this board are a couple of Marvel NICs that support 10/100/1000 Ethernet and use a PCIe lane each.  This prevents network congestion and provides higher quality connections, less lag due to a crammed bus, and lower CPU usage.  Although CPU usage of networking components is not often considered when purchasing a motherboard, we've seen CPU usage on an E6600 climb to over 25% when transferring large files on poor Ethernet components.  Marvel has a good reputation of building high quality, low overhead NICs.

Marvel NICs
Marvel NICs

 

 

 

Another feature that I really like about this reference board is the integrated Reset and Power buttons on the bottom of the board.  These two buttons come in very handy and save a lot of time that is spent with a screwdriver "jump starting" and resetting a board that is not installed in a case.  While most users will never touch these buttons, everyone who has built a computer on a bench for testing knows how handy integrated switches are.  I believe that DFI started this trend years ago, and I'm glad to see it is included on this 780i SLI sample.

Reset and Power Switches
Reset and Power Switches

 

This board supports a total of 6 - SATA 2 devices and there are four traditionally mounted on the board with two facing forward along the leading edge (not pictured).  These ports are capable of 3.0Gbps transfers and a multitude of RAID arrays that include the standard RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.

 SATA Ports
SATA Ports

 

Lastly, I've included a picture of this board up and running, and while it's not a triple SLI setup - or even an nVidia graphics card for that matter, the board seems solid.  We've experienced no issues with it whatsoever with either an E4300 overclocked or a Q6600.  There are reported issues with 45nm CPUs that are being blamed for the delay, but any existing available CPU should work with no issues.

780i Running
780i Running

 

On the last page we'll run through some BIOS screenshots and wrap things up with some final thoughts.