780i SLI Sneak Peek - 780i SLI BIOS and Final Thoughts

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

Delete to Enter BIOS:

It was with interest that I booted up the board and entered the BIOS for the first time.  With some of the new features on this board, and the hope for an even better overclocking setup, I perused the BIOS for new and nifty features.  Mostly I was disappointed as there really isn't that much new and exciting in the BIOS.  It is a pretty standard layout of the AwardBIOS and many of you will recognize the initial BIOS screen for sure.

BIOS - Main
BIOS - Main

 

As I looked around the BIOS, I actually found it quite hard to tell if I was switched to the right system on my KVM.  About 90% of the BIOS screens were exactly the same as the 680i - which shouldn't be surprising as many have said that the 780i is simply a refresh of the older 680i chipset.

 BIOS - System Clocks
BIOS - System Clocks


If you are familiar with a standard 680i setup, you probably haven't seen anything new and exciting yet.  Even the FSB & Memory configuration section is the same.

BIOS - Mem Clocks
BIOS - Mem Clocks

 

Our hopes of better overclocking were put to rest by our FSB-limited CPU.  For those with a CPU with a high FSB ceiling, there is certainly enough CPU and chipset voltage adjustment to screw up your system and fry your chip if you aren't careful.  As I played around with this board I noticed that when I raised the CPU voltage up into the 1.37+ range, other voltages increased automatically.  This is to promote stability and can be over ruled if you are a seasoned overclocker and know the sweet spot for your gear.

 BIOS - CPU Voltage
BIOS - CPU Voltage

 

About the only thing new and somewhat interesting in the BIOS is the addition of the GTLVREF Lane 0, 1, 2 and 3 adjustments.  I can't find much information about this setting - only GTLREF voltage adjustments, and they seem to be for something different.  Because it is broken down into "lanes" I'm assuming that it has something to do with PCIe voltages for the graphics cards.  If you have any insight, please post a comment in our forum at the link below.

 BIOS - GTLVREF Voltage
BIOS - GTLVREF Voltage

 

Final Thoughts:

While the nVidia 780i SLI chipset isn't blowing anyone away with a whole new level of performance, it does bring some nice features to the table.  It adds full PCIe 16x support on all graphics card slots and enables 3-Way SLI on this board.  Of course 3-Way SLI is also to be supported on 680i SLI boards, but with one card running on a PCIe 8x interface.  Is this worth a model change though?  Perhaps not by itself, but also bear in mind that the 780i will offer full Yorkfield support as well - where the 680i simply cannot due to hardware incompatibility.

 

 

Regardless of which chipset you run, you will need to score a fancy 3-Way SLI bridge - and with a street value of $80, 3-Way SLI isn't going to be cheap.  I'd assume that 780i boards will ship with this connector, but to add 3-Way SLI to a 680i board, you'll have to shop around.  I have my questions as to whether or not 3-Way SLI will offer a noticeable performance boost other than in benchmarks.  nVidia's Quad SLI suffered a short feeble life as the 7950GX2's never really caught on.  I'm not trying to be a prophet, but I see the 3-Way SLI boards and idea bearing the same fate.

Will the 780i succeed, or is it just a stop-gap until the DDR3 packing 790i SLI arrives?  Either way, as we get another 8800GTX, we'll bring you the numbers and let you know if we can actually run Crysis and Ultra detail.