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Old October 17, 2008, 09:15 AM
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Thumbs up MB OC Report :: EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM


It looks like it is that time of the month again for me. It is time to infiltrate your boring daily life with a little bit of my bad humor and pathetic commentary. For those viewing their first MB OC Report, you won't be finding just a few screenshots and claims that this is the best motherboard out there. You also won't be finding a full out review packed with a bunch of benchmarks that tell you jack shyt about the boards real overclocking potential. Instead, what you will find is exactly what the title states it is...a motherboard overclocking report. There won't be just screenshots showing results, I will be providing as much information about how I got there in the screenshots as possible, the progression from air through to sub-zero cooling, and hopefully some exciting stuff as well. The goal is to provide not just results but also useful information minus any review fluff. For this MB OC Report, we will be riding the "digital" waves and take a look at EVGA's latest 790i motherboard, their in-house designed EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM...and no, they couldn't have added any more acronyms to the name. The federal trade commission voted against it ;)


EVGA is a top tier NVIDIA partner and as such, offers a full line of NVIDIA GPU solutions in addition to NVIDIA motherboards. Based in California, EVGA has a strong influence on the North American market and is synonymous with enthusiasts not only for performance, but customer service as well. EVGA constantly looks to improve customer service with a heavy presence in its own community forums and programs such as their Step-Up Program that offers customers a buy-back option of their hardware to step up to newer models within a 90 day time period. Alright, so that is the only bit of review fluff...I promise. I will also mention that my sample was supplied by EVGA but is a random retail sample so results posted here should be about the average of what this motherboard is capable of.

Below you can find a table of contents that will give you quick access to any of the sections of the MB OC Report for the EVGA nForce 790i FTW Digital PWM. Or you can not be one of those guys that just skips all the hard work and goes straight to the good stuff and use your scroll wheel.

Directory:
  1. Index
  2. Specifications & Pricing
  3. Package & Layout Flyover
  4. I'll Take Cooling For A $1000 Alex
  5. Warning Flux Fumes: Voltage Mods & Read Points
  6. Blue Martini's: BIOS Screenshots
  7. Appetizer: FSB Clocking
  8. First Course: 2x1GB Memory Clocking
  9. First Course Continued: 2x2GB Memory Clocking
  10. Second Course Warmup: Single GTX 280 Action
  11. Main Course: GTX 260 SLI Entrée
  12. Dessert: The Best Part of Dinner
  13. After Dinner Coffee: Well...How Was Dinner?

Last edited by 3oh6; October 31, 2008 at 11:38 AM.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:17 AM
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Default Specifications & Pricing



For those that are looking for the straight up boring specifications list, here you go, borrowed straight from the EVGA site:


What is not listed here are the features that only nForce chipsets possess for Intel processors. For instance, with the nForce 790i SLI chipset, you can run memory un-linked. It is not a true un-linked memory where you can set whatever you want the memory to run at, it is still a ratio system, but it does offer a lot more options that the Intel chipsets don't. For instance, there is a 16:30 ratio that you won't find on any Intel motherboards. This feature comes in handy as there aren't as big gaps between memory ratios like you find on the Intel chipsets.

Another major feature is one that we are all probably quite familiar with, the ability to run SLI. Until the X58 boards are available, the NVIDA chipsets like the 790i are the only ones you can run two or more SLI compatible video cards. Of course, the ballgame completely changes with Nehalem (Core i7) as NVIDIA was muscled into providing X58 boards the ability to run SLI. If you are looking for any more information about the specifications or features of the EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM or simply the nForce 790i chipset, here are a couple links...NVIDIA 790i SLI and EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM. Let's now take a look at pricing...

Pricing at some retailers...at time of posting:

USACanadaSo NCIX and its subsidiaries are all over the board on the pricing so far with this board. Hopefully someone else can pick this board up and drop prices closer to the US pricing. In the US, options for this board seem very slim but the price is much better...EVGA needs to do something about this because the Canadian dollar was on par or higher than the US dollar for a while, but is still only $0.15 behind. Quit hating us up here because we have relatively clean air...in some parts of the country, at certain times of the year, when there is enough of a breeze from west to east.

**The pricing was edited due to the sudden drop in the CND $ and the sharp increase in prices. We are now back to getting shafted here in Canada on everything it seems. This board went from "on the pricey side" to "holy shyt" expensive overnight in Canada.

Last edited by 3oh6; October 18, 2008 at 09:29 AM.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:17 AM
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Default Package & Layout Flyover



We'll start with a quick look at the package, the accessories, and then on to the board. This will be brief like a 30 second porn clip on a pic site so pay attention or you will miss the money shot.

click for full size...

There really isn't much to say, and I won't go into a lengthy diagnosis of the package or its contents, I think the photos speak for themselves. The one thing worth mentioning is that the plastic clam shell the board is protected in does an excellent job of keeping the board safe during transport. We have all seen an increase of high end motherboards coming in this type of package and I really like EVGA doing the same with this board. Here is a complete list of the accessory package that comes with this board:
  • 1x Round Sleeve IDE
  • 1x Round Sleeve floppy
  • 6x Clipped SATA
  • 3x 4-pin molex to double SATA 5-pin power
  • 1x 4 port USB PCI expansion bracket
  • 1x Single Firewire 6-pin PCI expansion bracket
  • 1x Single serial port PCI expansion bracket
  • 1x Tab-less rear I/O panel
  • 1x Flexible SLI bridge
  • 1x Solid Tri-SLI bridge
The accessory package is a pretty standard selection of hardware with the nice addition of solid clipped end SATA cables in none other than black. The rear I/O panel is also of a newer design school with no tabs, just a cushioned backing to provide a snug fit without the hassle. Alright, time to see what exactly we are working with here. The board is very close to the reference 790i Ultra design but obviously the CPU PWM area is a good bit different so we'll start there.

click for full size...

As stated, the overall layout and component layout is exactly the same as the 790i Ultra reference design with the addition of solid capacitors throughout. As the saying goes, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Moving to the CPU socket area, this all changes. Instead of multiple banks of through hole capacitors, chokes, and surface mount MOSFETs; we are greeted with a chorus line of surface mount capacitors in front of dual 4 phase ferrite core Cooper Bussmann multi-phase inductors. The CPL-4-50 inductors don't have a heat sink on them as they are capable of operation up to 125°C.

click for full size...

Behind these inductors are the Volterra VT1165SF CSP chips which in combination with the CPL-4-50 inductors create an 8 phase system capable of up to 240A (30A x 8 phases), which can be seen in the above photos with the heat pipe assembly removed. These components are on many newer high end GPUs and motherboards as well and have a history of supplying stable clean power with a small footprint with minimal heat dump. The last photo is an interesting little switch just north of the CPU socket and when inquired about, was described as a change in the PWM for older P4s by EVGA. For our Core 2 use, this should be left to the "1" position as shown above.

click for full size...

Moving away from the CPU socket, we find the DIMM slots surrounded by more solid electrolytic capacitors and familiar locations of the 24-Pin, IDE, and 4 of the onboard NVIDIA MCP SATA connectors. Going down to "MCP Corner" there is the floppy connector, LED readout, a fan header, 2 more SATA connectors at a 90° angle as well as the front panel connectors and a number of onboard headers. The low profile MCP heat sink hangs out in the background trying to stay out of the way of the monster video cards that are about to sit on its face. The interesting thing about the 90° SATA connectors is that they use a different casing from that of a normal SATA connector. With most cables, this isn't a problem. Unfortunately with the included cables from EVGA, they don't fit. The EVGA supplied cables are a nice quality SATA cable with a clip and there is no cut-out for the clip in the 90° casing as highlighted in the third photo above where the 90° connector is on top with a perfectly rectangle casing around the actual connector. Just the two 90° connectors are problematic, the other four SATA connectors higher up on the board work just fine with the supplied cables.

The last photo in this set outlines the bottom edge of the board including the fancy new power and reset buttons that feature LED centers. I'm not sure about the colors though...they don't seem to match the rest of the color scheme, but I failed interior design in high-school so what the hell do I know anyway.

click for full size...

Overall, the lower portion of the board is well laid out and like mentioned, for 790i Ultra owners, it will look very familiar. The slot spacing is capable of housing 3 dual slot coolers but they are sitting on top of each other and require some decent airflow from the back of the cards to make it work. The two last photos above are simply of the backside of the motherboard and the rear I/O panel. There isn't much to discuss but I will mention that surface mount capacitors are again present on the backside of the motherboard right behind the CPU socket. These capacitors do run a risk of getting crushed by back plates in some setups. This will be discussed a little bit more in the cooling section, which is next on the schedule.

Last edited by 3oh6; October 19, 2008 at 12:15 PM.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Default I'll Take Cooling For A $1000 Alex



My biggest beef with motherboards these days is the completely inadequate cooling that these stock heat pipe solutions provide. Sure they give a company a chance to brand a board and wow the average Joe computer buyer with the flash, but they are terrible at what they are suppose to be doing...cooling the chipset. This is the stock cooling that comes with the EVGA 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM.

click for full size...

The stock cooling on the 790i FTWD is very similar to the reference designed 790i Ultra but the fan works in a completely different fashion. On this board, the fan sucks air in from the CPU socket side and blows it out sideways to the rear of the case. This is a better solution to the reference design in my opinion, but the fact of the matter remains. The cooling is inadequate to maximize the motherboard and the integrated heat pipe mess, like every motherboard these days, makes it a pain in the ass to change. Not only do you have to cool the north bridge, but also the PWM area as well as the SB. Nothing like buying a $300+ motherboard and then another $50+ just to get decent cooling on the chipset so you can maximize the boards capabilities.

Like the 790i Ultra reference design, the heat pipe assembly does use screws exclusively which is better than pushpins. It is still a very weak compensation but better than the alternative I guess. The other thing I would like to touch on is the fact that a Thermalright Ultra-120 does fit in a front-to-back orientation, but as you can see in the second photo, it does touch the heat sink on the north bridge and requires some wrestling to get done. The other negative aspect of this board is again the inclusion of surface mount capacitors on the rear of the board. All large heat sinks and water blocks will use a back plate, if the user is not careful and provides a layer of something between the back plate and the board, those capacitors will get damaged. There were a number of experiences found in forums with people and mysteriously dead 790i Ultra motherboards...after using a back plate. This is un-acceptable from all manufacturers and I will continue to bytch about it until it is changed in future designs, which isn't going to happen so get use to hearing me harp on it :up:.

click for full size...

Looking at the underside of the heat pipe assembly from the underside, we can see there are stand offs to protect the core and ample thermal paste has been applied. It was nice to again see a moist thermal paste applied as opposed to that hard crusty stuff some manufacturers use. At least with this thermal paste, should the board flex, there won't be a separation of the chipset and the paste that can't be re-created naturally. The PWM heat sink simply uses a thermal pad which is more than adequate for its purposes. The last two photos above are of the actual north bridge and south bridge dies. These are naked and exposed to the world when the stock heat pipe assembly comes off so care needs to be taken not to chip, crack these dies.

click for full size...

The last set of photos is dedicated to showing alternative cooling options. For the digital PWM FETs, I found Swiftech MC14s to fit nicely between the back of the CPL inductors and the last row of surface mount capacitors at the back. It is a tight fit and you want to make sure the MC14s aren't touching anything else that could cause a short but they definitely fit. Another option would be Enzotech MOS-C1s. Next up was finding a solution for the north bridge and with the Noctua NC-U6, or any tower style north bridge cooler, the Thermalright Ultra-120 will not fit in a front to back orientation. I tried every angle possible but it just won't work, the only option is top to bottom orientation for the CPU cooler. The last piece to the puzzle is a south bridge solution that will still allow for SLI and that is the Thermalright HR-05-SLI. I have used this combination on the 790i Ultra with great success but with triple SLI, you need an alternative south bridge option.

click for full size...

Above I have demonstrated that the HR-05-SLI works perfectly for an SLI setup, even with dual slot cards like the GTX 280 shown here. For triple SLI setups, you can simply use a low profile copper heat sink that mounts with pushpins. I have used a P5B-Dlx south bridge heat sink in the past that worked well, even without a fan. Enzotech also has a nice solution, the SLF-1.

The last couple photos above depict the Swiftech MCW30 on the north bridge and the entire setup for the majority of air testing except for the initial FSB and memory testing. As I will mention in the memory clocking sections, the stock cooling on the north bridge really hampered memory clocking. It was only after I went to water cooling was I able to get the memory frequencies up to where I was use to seeing them from the 790i Ultra. This next setup is for those that just don't play by the rules, and aparently some think I have been cheating with this board so far...well this next step in SPP cooling definitely won't help my cause.

click for full size...

The photos are in a somehwat backwards order because I didn't take any during the setup so they are of the tear down. The first photo shows the insulation enclosing the phase change evaporator and as you can see from the perfectly centered circle impression in the insulation, the evap had perfect contact on the SPP...or so I think. The rest of the photos simply show the setup at various stages. Overall, the insulation was quite adequate and the system ran like a champ. Unfortunately, the results weren't quite what I was hoping for but even still, the board responded surprisingly well.

Last edited by 3oh6; November 4, 2008 at 09:21 PM.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:19 AM
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Default Warning Flux Fumes: Voltage Mods & Read Points



There is nothing to decipher here, this section is strictly for voltage mods and read points. With a lot of similarities between the lower half of the board on this FTW Digital PWM edition to that of the 790i Ultra, a couple items on the menu will be identical. I'll start with read points I have found first then show the volt mods as they are discovered.

click for full size...

The vCORE read point is the most accurate place to read from on the board and easy to get to. The vDIMM read point is the best I can find but reads the slightest bit less than polling directly from an empty DIMM slot. For all intents and purposes, it is the same if you’re using a two decimal DMM. The SPP voltage read point is the same as the 790i Ultra and reads exactly what the capacitors and choke do on the underside, just a bit easier to get at. If you were going to solder a lead, you could also from those through hole components measured from the underside of the motherboard. The vMCP was provided by EVGA and seems to read basically what is set in the BIOS so we'll go with it. Don't hesitate to provide your own read points that I can add to this section. Let's move on to the volt mods for this board.

vSPP volt mod
First up is the SPP volt mod for the northbridge. The BIOS limit is the amount of vSPP selectable and with additional cooling, a vSPP mod might bring some better benching FSB. I wouldn't recommend running 24/7 with higher vSPP than selectable in the BIOS.

click for full size...

This is a carryover from the 790i Ultra board and is fairly straight forward. The second photo showing the close-up has one lead circled in red, this is where you have to solder to, the other lead is simply ground. You can solder to the circled lead and then to any ground you choose if you want, you don't have to use the ground pin (#3) on the IC that I have. I have used a 20K ohm VR which seems to be perfect providing very little extra voltage when turned all the way down and gives good control at the party end.


vCORE volt mod
Most people won't need a vCORE mod since this board provides up to 2.0v and actually puts out 2.0v. The problem for me is I have a dog E8600 and it seems to run worse on this board at full boar under LN2 than the RE so I need even more vCORE. In addition to this, a vCORE mod will allow me to boot with high vCORE then tune it down when on air. High FSB requires high vCORE to boot. With the 790i Ultra one could do this with software using the NVIDIA control panel but with the 790i FTWD, this option doesn't work.

This is also a bit of a different mod as it requires two solder points on the motherboard to be combined then fed to the VR. Thanks go to Peter (Shamino) for providing the vCORE mod information. Here she be ladies...

click for full size...

It isn't too tough of a mod but you are going to have to solder to some 0402 package resistors so a soft touch will be needed. These two solder points then get combined and connected to the VR like you normally would. The first photo shows the solder points on the board, the second photo depicts the whole area, and the last photo is a close up of my VR/jumper/read point fan header. I have been asked in the past how I set my mods up so I figured I would label the detailed photo to show exactly how it works. By removing the jumper, I am breaking the loop to ground and it is the equivalent to removing the mod.

A 10K ohm VR is perfect for this guy as at 10K ohm it bumps voltage maybe 0.04~0.05v. A 5K O VR might be a bit nicer for very fine control and I will likely jump over to that for benching. Your starting voltage will simply be higher.

Last edited by 3oh6; November 7, 2008 at 09:28 PM.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:20 AM
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Default Blue Martini's: BIOS Screenshots



Like all things 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM, the BIOS is very similar to its older brothers and sisters so those familiar with the 790i Ultra reference boards, this BIOS will make you feel right at home. Of course, there are a couple noted changes and a couple things I wouldn't mind changed further...but when was the last time I had everything I wanted in a BIOS?

Main Menu // Standard CMOS Features // Advanced BIOS Features
click for full size...

There is nothing really out of the ordinary to discuss as the BIOS layout is pretty standard. Everything is labeled well and the sections hold exactly what they say with nothing getting lost in the mess.

Integrated Peripherals // Power Management Setup // PnP/PCI Configurations
click for full size...

Everything in the Integrated Peripherals section can be disabled or enabled and it is quite clear what everything is.

PC Health Status // Frequency/Voltage Control
click for full size...

The start of the overclocking sections of the motherboard is really the PC Health Status screen providing us with access to all of the sensors the motherboard provides. To be truthfully honest, the amount of data provided here is a little underwhelming. I would like to see more voltage readings like PLL and vFSB along with more temperature readings. It is a known fact that the NVIDIA 790i MCP does not have an internal thermal probe so this MCP55 temperature reading is at best, a surface mount probe near the north bridge. Being spoiled with internal diode MCH temps on the Rampage Extreme really makes the prospect of monitoring this board under use impossible. There isn't really anything EVGA can do about this, it is an NIVDIA related issue. The last section of the BIOS is the Frequency/Voltage Control section and obviously where all the overclocking parameters are housed. It is nice that a single section is home to all that we need to overclock, but I would like to see this section the first in the main menu list. Recent motherboards like the EP45T-Extreme and Rampage Extreme have made the overclocking section the initial menu option of the BIOS, this has proved to be very useful for clockers who spend a lot of time dipping into the BIOS.

Another acceptable feature but lacking in depth is the Load Timing/Voltage Set. It allows us to save BIOS settings but only the overclock settings. As the last screenshot above shows, it only provides three saving options and these options cannot be re-named. Providing the ability to save the entire BIOS settings and namable designators would be a very welcome addition.

System Clocks // FSB & Memory Config
click for full size...

The System Clocks page is home to our spread spectrum options, as well as PCIe/chipset frequencies. NVIDIA runs on a default clock and multiplier system to generate PCIe and the SPP<>MCP link frequencies. The system defaults are what are being shown in the screenshots above. The FSB & Memory Config page is clearly our home to frequency adjustment of FSB and memory. NVIDIA continues to use the quad pumped value so you will have to have a calculator handy when clocking, like you always have. What is nice about this BIOS, however, is that when you adjust FSB frequency; we can see the direct changes to CPU clocks as well as memory clocks before saving & exiting. This comes in quite handy, especially since we have a vast amount of memory ratios available to us thanks to the un-linked memory option, we can always see what the outcome will be before having to save&exit. One change I would love to see is the ability to adjust CPU multiplier from the FSB & Memory Config page instead of just from the System Clocks section.

Memory Timing Setting // CPU Features // System Voltages
click for full size...

The first screenshot above is a carryover of the last set and the Memory Timing Settings. This page is accessed from the bottom of the FSB & Memory Config section. The NVIDIA memory timing options are slim to none but they get the job done. Memory just clocks so well on this chipset that no one can complain about a lack of ability to "tune" the memory...it does it on its own damn near. The addition of tRFC to the memory timings is nice, but the options are very limited. Being able to set the tRFC to any value would be much more welcomed.

The system voltages are all provided in a single screen including 4 separate GTLVREF channels that are adjustable from -155mv to +155mv. The rest of the voltage settings are all at their maximums to give an idea of what kind of voltages we have at our fingertips. The addition of being able to enable or disable vDroop is another one of the nice touches EVGA has expanded on from the 790i Ultra reference design. vCore doesn't quite go as high as one would like to see, and the limited vSPP is going to definitely limit clocks if the 790i Ultra was any indicator but the memory voltage is just ridiculous. Trust me, I am not complaining about having too much voltage at my finger tips but 3v+ is a little excessive. Here is a chart of the voltage ranges and increments...
Code:
CPU Core    = 0.50000v ~ 2.00000v in 0.00625v increments
CPU FSB     = 1.100v ~ 1.625v     in 0.075v increments
Memory      = 1.500v ~ 3.075v     in 0.025v increments
nForce SPP  = 1.32v ~ 1.57v       in 0.05v increments
nForce MCP  = 1.500v ~ 1.750v     in 0.050v increments
CPU PLL	     = 1.5v ~ 1.8v         in 0.1v increments
GTL Ref	     = -155mv ~ +155mv     in 5mv increments
Overall, the voltage options are an improvement from the 790i Ultra options but a vCore and vSPP volt mod are going to be required to push this board...if a vCore mod is even possible. The one aspect of this section that is very much appreciated is the fact that the BIOS shows you what the values are already set to. This type of voltage adjustment page needs to be the standard, it is very nicely done.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Default Appetizer: FSB Clocking



We start off with testing FSB with the board straight out of the box. No modifications, no thermal paste re-application, no additional cooling. The following testing is exactly as the board would be when you first open the package. Here is a list of hardware/software used for this testing...
  • CPU: Intel C2D E8400 (L808A476)
  • CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra-120
  • RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC3-16000 EPP2.0
  • NB Cooling: Stock
  • SB Cooling: Stock
  • PWM Cooling: Stock
  • GPU: HIS HD3870X2
  • PSU: Thermaltake Pure Power 750W
  • HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
  • OS: Windows XP Pro SP3 (fully updated)
Let's finally get this board rocking and see what it will do for us. I still don't have confirmation either way that the board is male or female...my e-mails continue to go un-answered at NVIDIA.

The setup as tested...
click for full size...

The results...
click for full size...

As it turns out, this particular sample of the EVGA nForce 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM isn't the incredible overclocker I was hoping for with the dual core, well, at least not in this physical form. The one thing that seemed to be holding back clocks was the vSPP and maximum BIOS selectable of 1.57v. That is good news because it provides optimism that this board may go higher with a volt mod and some additional cooling on the chipset. The one item of concern though is that I was able to eek out a 5MHz higher stable clock after turning the memory frequency down to 800MHz from 1000MHz+. This is just further evidence that the chipset is a bit weaker than the 790i Ultra as it never exhibited this sort of behavior.
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Default First Course: 2x1GB Memory Clocking



The first sacrifice to the memory clocking gods on this 790i FTW Digital motherboard is going to be my trusty kit of Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC3-16000. These modules are monsters in every motherboard they touch and were good enough to crack 1100MHz dual 32M at 8-7-6 and over 15K read bandwidth in Everest on my EVGA 790i Ultra. Needless to say, I fully expect similar clocks with this motherboard being pretty much the same chipset. As always, a breakdown and photo of the setup during testing:
  • CPU: Intel C2D E8400 (L808A476)
  • CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra-120
  • RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC3-16000 CL9
  • NB Cooling: Stock
  • SB Cooling: Stock
  • PWM Cooling: Stock
  • GPU: HIS HD3870X2
  • PSU: Thermaltake Pure Power 750W
  • HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
  • OS: Windows XP Pro x64 SP2 (fully updated)

The setup as tested...
click for full size...

Keep in mind, these results at this point are simply the results obtained on stock cooling with no volt mods to the board or additional cooling. Initial FSB clocking indicates that the memory clocks might suffer do to a lack of SPP voltage. Here now is the abbreviated dual 32M OC Report...


If there were any questions as to whether or not the 790i SLI and 790i Ultra chipsets were the same in memory clocking, you can put those to rest. This kit basically repeated everything it did on the 790i Ultra...to an extent. Along the way, the Ballistix clocked exactly like they did on the 790i Ultra counterpart, but at the top end of the spectrum the 790i SLI chipset has let this memory down. Basically, I ran out of vSPP as that is what is needed for higher memory clocks. I am quite confident that once I do the vSPP mod and put water cooling on the chipset, this kit will clock every bit as good as my 790i Ultra board after it too got the mods. Those results should be posted in this section in the near future. Here are the screenshots so you can see voltages and other settings involved in the clocks.

NVIDIA 790i:
Click link for full size screenshot...
6-6-5-X 1T: 775MHz :: 1.90v | 810MHz :: 2.00v | 840MHz :: 2.10v

7-6-5-X 1T: 900MHz :: 1.90v | 940MHz :: 2.00v | 980MHz :: 2.10v

8-7-6-X 1T: 1000MHz :: 1.90v | 1040MHz :: 1.95v
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Old October 17, 2008, 09:22 AM
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Default First Course Continued: 2x2GB Memory Clocking



We will now focus on a 2GB kit of memory that absolutely tore it up on the 790i Ultra, a kit of Mushkin Ascent 2x2GB PC3-12800 CL7. After seeing the 2x1GB kit held back by the SPP, it will be interesting to see if these 2x2gb modules struggle at the higher clocks. Keep in mind, this kit ran up to and over DDR3-2000 dual 32M at 8-7-6 fairly easily. Here is a repeat of the setup used in testing:
  • CPU: Intel C2D E8400 (L808A476)
  • CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra-120
  • RAM: Mushkin Ascent 2x2GB PC3-128000 CL7
  • NB Cooling: Stock
  • SB Cooling: Stock
  • PWM Cooling: Stock
  • GPU: HIS HD3870X2
  • PSU: Thermaltake Pure Power 750W
  • HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
  • OS: Windows XP Pro x64 SP2 (fully updated)
Before we see any results, here is a quick look at the setup which is un-changed from the FSB Out of the Box clocking section.

The setup as tested...
click for full size...

With no SPP volt mod or additional cooling to the chipset, we saw 2x1GB clocks being limited by the BIOS selectable vSPP. With a 2x2GB kit populating the DIMM slots now, I fully expect to see the same type of situation...but unfortunately, a little sooner in the clocks.

As suspected, memory clocks were held back by the SPP voltage maximum that can be set in the BIOS. This 790i SLI just isn't ready to play with the big boys right out of the box, it needs a little help. These modules have a lot more in them as proven by what they did on a modded and cooled 790i Ultra, but this board just can't get that out of them in stock form. On both the 2x1GB kit and more pronounced with this 2x2GB kit, CL7 clocks suffer the most. It appears that the CL7 clocking ability, or slight weakness in ability, of the 790i SLI chipset holds true from my 790i Ultra experience. The board should have no problem running any kit of memory available at specification...you just won't be breaking records without the appropriate renovations to the board.

NVIDIA 790i:
Click link for full size screenshot...
6-6-5-X 1T/2T: 775MHz :: 1.90v | 815MHz :: 2.00v | 850MHz :: 2.10v

7-6-5-X 2T: 895MHz :: 1.90v | 915MHz :: 2.00v

8-7-6-X 2T: 950MHz :: 1.90v | 978MHz :: 2.00v
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old October 17, 2008, 09:23 AM
3oh6's Avatar
Hardware Canucks Reviewer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Edmonton, AB
Posts: 1,052
Default Second Course Warmup: Single GTX 280 Action



It is time to shift gears to some 3D benching fun and I start with a single BFG GTX 280 OCX which turns out to be only an average clocker on air, so hopefully that means a good clocker under cold. Here are a couple photos including the setup as tested and the volt mods to the card.

click for full size...

The volt mods on the card hardly help with clocks on air and are really a waste of time for most users unless pehaps you are water cooling. Even then, I wouldn't expect much gains from the volt mods. Here are the all air numbers and a complete breakdown of the setup including the updated cooling on the SPP:
  • CPU: Intel C2D E8400 (L808A476) @ 500x8 4000MHz
  • CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra-120 @ 1:2 1000MHz 8-7-6 / 1000MHz 7-6-5
  • RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2x1GB PC3-16000 CL9
  • NB Cooling: Swiftech MCW30 / MCP655 / MCRES-Micro / PA120.2
  • SB Cooling: Thermalright HR-05-SLI
  • PWM Cooling: Swiftech MC14 x 4
  • GPU: BFG GTX 280 OCX
  • PSU: Ultra XPro 750W
  • HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
  • OS: Windows XP Pro SP2 (fully updated) // Windows Vista SP1 (fully updated)
Vista was obviously only used for Vantage running the Performance preset. Notice the voltages required for the different memory settings run. 01 and AM3 were ran with 1000MHz 7-6-5 and the rest with 1000MHz 8-7-6. Both ran without issue at the same voltage as this kit did in the 790i Ultra. These results are just a baseline for before sub zero cooling on the CPU and GPU, just to get warmed up :up:

click for full size...

Last edited by 3oh6; October 18, 2008 at 06:39 PM.
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