EVGA 790i SLI FTW Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: September 28, 2008
It's time to upgrade your PC when the old faithful has been just that but frankly can't keep up with the latest games. You have given it more system memory, a better graphics card but with the aging technology you can go no further to increase the performance of your once top o' the line rig. Now it's time. You've done some research into the graphics possibilities, memory and processors but the task of choosing a motherboard to fit your needs is a little daunting. You have multiple Intel and Nvidia chipsets used by who knows how many manufacturers. With the Intel chipsets supporting ATI's CrossfireX multi GPU standard and Nvidia's chipsets supporting their own multi-GPU strategy SLI (Scalable Link Interface), the choice really comes down to what you want to do with this new rig of yours. If it's gaming you want, then gaming it is. All it takes is for you to pick your poison.
The EVGA NF790i SLI FTW is the latest motherboard from EVGA sporting the 790i SLI SPP and MCP. This board is targeted squarely toward the enthusiast and gamer. Since that's the target audience, EVGA has loaded this one with all the bells and whistles. Support for the latest 45nm Intel CPUs, DDR3 1600 to 2000MHz support, 8GB memory can be used to fill the four DIMM slots, three PCI-E x16 slots (two x16 PCI-E 2.0, and one x16 PCI-E1.0) that let you install and use three Tri SLI capable video cards in a three GPU setup to get the most from your gaming experience. Having eliminated the data corruption issues with the earlier boards, this latest offering should do well to feed your gaming "jones." Hey, I know it's an older term but it fits! Having seen what the Asus Striker II Extreme can do, it's time to dig a little deeper into the EVGA 790i SLI FTW edtion.
The packaging has the typical lime green and black Nvidia coloring so there can be no mistaking what brand this board represents. The front panel includes a view of an atom with the nucleus and surrounding electrons, while highlighting the product name. Prominently shown are a couple of the specifications enthusiasts and gamers care about, DDR3 2000MHz, PCI-E 2.0 and 1.0 and the three x16 graphics capability. If you know anything about EVGA then you know about the 90 day step up program that allows you to trade up to a higher or lower performing product and pay the difference toward the cost of the new product. The rear of the package expands on the feature set. The highlighted features are the Tri SLI, ESA (Enthusiast System Architecture) and SLI memory with EPP capabilities. As an ESA certified motherboard, this board can be teamed up with other ESA based components such as power supplies and video cards for monitoring and tweaking of the performance they deliver.
Slipping the contents out of the box shows the bundled accessories on top of the plastic clamshell that holds the 790i SLI FTW. There is enough room on top to hold the large number of included supplies. Once the bundled accesories have been removed the motherboard can be seen. The clamshell package adequately protects the 790i SLI FTW, preventing any damage during shipping.
Now you have seen what the packaging looks like so you know just what to look for when it comes time to spend your hard earned dollars. Let's see what you get for those dollars.
Like most companies out there EVGA sends a bundle of accessories with the 790i SLI FTW. If you have seen enough motherboards you can see the companies that give you just a little bit more than the normal driver disk, manual and I/O panel. EVGA has provided a bundle that is a bit better than the normal. This bundle includes everything you will need to get the board up and running. Of course, there are items you need to supply such as the processor, system memory, power supply, storage and the chassis. The manual was a refreshing change from the manuals many manufacturers use. The manual is larger and allows the print to be larger so that it is easily more readable than the smaller manuals that you need a magnifying glass to read.
To connect your storage, optical and floppy drives EVGA has included just about enough cables to max out the connectivity of the 790i SLI FTW. A nice change from the "just two will do" crowd. For added connectivity to the back panel there are included brackets for adding four more USB ports, one 1394 port and a serial port. There are three power cables adapters to increase the amount of available SATA power connections available from your existing power supply.
The I/O shield is pretty similar to ones I have seen on the Asus ROG lineup. Most of the annoying block off tabs that you need to break off are not in place on the EVGA piece. A couple are there, though not a deal breaker by any means. The shield is designed to block any radio frequency transmissions as well as protecting the components near the main connection point for most of the peripherals.
Last, but not least, are the SLI bridge connectors. Since the 790i SLI chipset supports Tri SLI it just makes sense to include both the connections for a standard two card SLI setup as well as the three card setup. The two card connector has the connection ports connected via a ribbon cable while the tree card connection system has the ports on a PCB that is spaced for this board.
Let's see what the board has to offer.
The EVGA 790i SLI FTW edition motherboard is an ATX form factor board featuring the Nvidia 790i SLI SPP (northbridge) and MCP (southbridge) for use with Intel socket 775 processors up to and including the 45nm QX series CPUs. The 790i SLI FTW supports up to eight gigabytes of DDR3 memory in a dual channel configuration with speeds ranging from 1066 to 2000MHz. To take care of your graphics needs, EVGA and Nvidia have included three x16 PCIe slots for use with up to three video cards in an SLI (Scalable Link Interface) configuration. EVGA has used a massive cooling system to keep a lid on the notoriously hot northbridge temperatures. This system of heatsinks is connected via heat pipes to help dissipate the heat generated by the motherboard components. Instead of using push pins to mount the cooling assembly EVGA has used screws to provide a more secure solution to the problem of loose underperforming heatsinks.
You have to start somewhere, so let's start with the I/O side of the board. The EVGA 790i SLI FTW has an I/O panel that is chock full of connections to allow you to maximize the usefullness of the board. PS/2 connections for the mouse and keyboard are still in use. Left to right from the PS/2 ports there are the Coax and Optical SPDIF digital sound outputs, an e-SATA connection for that external storage drive, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, one 1394 Firewire port that supports hot plug ins, the 8-channel sound connections and two RJ45 Ethernet ports. Some of the connections will be seen on just about every motherboard out on the market but some are reserved for the better boards, e-SATA being one of those highline features. Seen just behind the I/O connections is part of the cooling system.
Expansion capabilities have been addressed with the EVGA NF 790i SLI FTW in the way of three x16 PCI-E slots that support both a dual card or three card graphics setup. The top two are PCI-E 2.0 compliant and run at x16 speeds while the bottom x16 slot is a PCI-E 1.0 based slot. Additionally, there are two PCI-E x1 slots that can be used for sound cards or any other low bandwidth intensive add-in cards. Two standard PCI slots round out the expansion capabilities. Additional expansion needs are met via the included expansion ports that include an additional 1394 Firewire port, four USB ports to make a total of ten and a serial port. All of these additional devices connect to the pin outs on the bottom edge of the board.
At the bottom edge of the board you will find added connectivity as well as some additional features that make life easier for the enthusiast. From left to right there are the front panel audio connection, the on-board speaker, the reset and power buttons with LED indicators, two SATA connections, the 1394 firewire header, two USB 2.0 headers, the on-board CMOS reset switch, serial port connection and the front panel connections. Just above the CMOS reset switch is the BIOS chip that includes the Phoenix BIOS. The on-board CMOS reset switch, on-board power and reset switches really make life easier for the enthusiast and hardcore bencher. No more getting out the little screwdriver to jump the pins for a startup.
The right side of the board contains most of the drive connectivity. Some of the SATA ports are spread across the board but the majority are on this side of the board. Starting at the bottom, there are two SATA ports pointing off the board to offer clearance to any video cards when run in SLI. Next is the on-board POST code display, or better known as the debug LED, followed by the floppy drive connection. Further up the board you will find the IDE connection as well as the 24-pin ATX power connection and the balance of the SATA connections. Six of the SATA connections are controlled by the 790i MCP and the additional three are controlled by the JMicron controller. The MCP offers up support for Raid 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD. Between the power connection and CPU socket are the DIMM slots. The 790I SLI FTW supports up to eight gigabytes of DDR3 system memory and officially supports up to DDR3 2000MHz.
While the cooling for the 790i SLI FTW may look like overkill to the average Joe, it is far from overkill. Each of the main heat generating components on the board are covered with a heatsink to provide additional stability and longevity to the board. Since this board falls squarely in the enthusiast class of motherboards, stability when overclocking is paramount. The SPP (northbridge) heatsink uses a fan to draw additional heat from the chip underneath the heatsink while the rest of the heatsinks rely on case airflow to keep the components cool. The MCP heatsink is small in comparison to the reast of the ones on the board. But there is really not much romm to make it bigger with the Tri SLI capabilities of the board, it would just cause interference with the video card. Initially, the heatsinks around the socket give the impression that fitting a large air cooled heatsink into the socket area may prove a little daunting. In reality, there is plenty of room even with a large bolt down heatsink.
Now that we have an idea of what's under the hood, it's time to get this board installed and see just what it has to offer!
The BIOS is where the base line settings for the operation of the board are set and adjusted. A good BIOS can crutch along a weak board with the opposite being equally true when that killer board has a really weak BIOS. The BIOS used on the EVGA is a Phoenix Award BIOS and is dated 7/30/08. The BIOS features many subcategories with the one most important to the enthusiast being the Frequency and Voltage control tab. No fancy name for it, just the basics of what can be adjusted under that subheading. I will look at each tab in turn so you can see just what is available.
Standard CMOS Features:
The things that can be adjusted under this tab include the time and date as well as manually adjusting the hard drive parameters. You can tell the board wich errors to halt on, the most frequent would be the keyboard.
Advanced BIOS Features:
This section allows you to configure the order that the devices on the motherboard are chosen in the boot sequence (i.e. CD-ROM then HDD then removeable or any combination that works for your rig). If you llike to see what your hardware is doing when it boots up and POSTs you can disable the logo to watch the POST sequence.
Advanced Chipset Features:
This section is rather slim containing only two items, System BIOS cacheable and HPET (High Precision Event Timer) function.
The Integrated Peripherals section allows you to enable or disable most of the onboard hardware. IDE channel configuration, USB motherboard and keyboard support, SATA and RAID configuration can be set up here.
Power Management Setup:
ACPI functionality can be enabled or disabled in this tab. Setting up the power-on functions can be set up here as well.
Choosing the first type of video device to initialize can be accomplished here (choices are PCI or PCI-E). Resources Controlled By allows you to either manually choose the interrupt request or have the BIOS assign them automatically. PCI Latency Timer lets you manually configure how many clock cycles a PCI device may hold the bus.
PC Health Status
This section allows you to monitor the voltages, monitor and adjust fan speeds either manually or allow the BIOS to control them dynamically based on temperature. I prefer to manually control my fans for a cooler case.
These tabs allow you to set up the basic functions of the board. The Frequency and Voltage Control tab is where the enthusiast can get the most from this board.
This section allows just what the name implies. The ability to adjust the clock frequencies and voltages. These two go hand in hand when it comes time to getting the most out of the installed hardware. The EVGA 790i SLI FTW has plenty of adjustment to gain that maximum clock speed as well as performance. It's just finding that right combination to make it all come together.
Dummy OC can be enabled or disabled and allows the user to overclock by a predetermined amount, up to 25% over the default CPU and memory speeds.
The System Clocks sub folder allows you to set the CPU clock multiplier, including half multiplier support. The frequency of the PCI-E bus and southbridge to nortbridge communication bus can be increased or left alone depending on how adventurous you are. The PCI-E bus is adjustable up to 200MHz with the SPP to MCP bus speed ramping all the way up to 500MHz. HT multiplier sets the speed of the connection back and forth from the SPP to MCP. The Spread Spectrum options are used to reduce the EMI generated by each listed device.
FSB and Memory Config allows the front side bus speed, memory speed and memory sub timings to be set. There are several modes that can be used. There is Linked in, where the CPU and memory clock speeds are linked together clock for clock. One of the features of the Nvidia 790i SLI chipset is the ability to run the memory Unlinked. This allows the CPU and memory speeds to be adjusted independently of one another to find the best performance. The memory ratio can be set to several preset options or when the clocks are run in linked mode there is the synced option. This allows the best possible performance with this chipset.
The frontside bus can be adjusted all the way up to 700MHz (2800QDR) for the CPU and up to 1400MHz on the memory. With the world FSB record over 700MHz now, the potential is there.
P1 and P2 can be left on auto or set to enabled. When enabled there is an increase in memory performance but your memory may or may not be able to maintain stability when set to enabled. Higher clock speeds on the memory are slightly more difficult with it enabled.
The Memory Timing tab allows the memory subtimings to be adjusted to maximize the memory performance. The TRFC adjustment has been added to the BIOS on the 790i SLI FTW. The adjustment is pretty course but it is available.
The CPU Feature tab contains the energy saving features for the Intel CPU. C1E, Intel Speedstep, Thermal control are some of the items found here. The System Voltages tab contains all the voltage adjustments. These adjustments can be left on auto or tweaked for maximum overclocking, the choice is yours. Vdroop control is there to help remove any voltage under shoot under load. CPU voltage is available to 2.0 volts, CPU FSB to 1.65, Memory to 3.075 volts! That's double the JEDEC specification and then some. The SPP goes up to 1.57, the MCP to 1.75 and the PLL volts to 1.90. The GTLRF voltage adjustments can be set to allow for a higher stable overclock using lower voltages on the critical components. It's best to read up on the effects of this adjustment as you can get off track pretty quickly.
As you can see the BIOS is laid out nicely and includes many of the voltage and memory settings that enthusiasts demand to get the most from the available hardware.
Putting the shiny new board into that self modded chassis just won't make this board stand up and give you world dominating performance. You have to do a couple of things to make that happen. First is to install the operating system then the drivers (instruction set that tells the hardware how to do its work the fastest and most efficient way possible). To start, of course, you will need to insert the supplied driver disc into the optical drive of your choice and let the autorun feature start the operation or start it manually.
Once the installation GUI pops up you have several options to chose from. Install the motherboard drivers, install the audio drivers, install the SATA controller drivers, make a RAID installation disk, install Adobe Reader and View the CD manual. I started off installing the motherboard drivers. Once installed then you can follow that up with all of the available items you need for your build.
Additional items that can be checked out include links to the EVGA website to register your board, visit the gaming page, view the EVGA forum moderators' rigs to give you some buildup ideas.
ATX form factor of 12 inches x 9.6 inches
Intel Core 2 Extreme, Intel Core 2 Quad, Intel Core 2 Duo, Pentium EE, Pentium D, Pentium
Supports Windows XP 32bit/64bit and Windows Vista 32bit/64bit
Contains NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI MCP and SPP
System Memory support
Supports dual channel JEDEC DDR3-1600MHz and SLI-Ready memory up to 2000 MHz. Supports up to 8 GBs of DDR3 memory.
Ten USB 2.0 Ports
ØSupports hot plug
Ø Ten USB 2.0 ports (six rear panel ports, two 10-pin onboard USB headers)
Ø Supports wake-up from S1 and S3 mode
Ø Supports USB 2.0 protocol up to 480 Mbps transmission rate
Onboard Serial ATA II
Ø 300MBps data transfer rate
Ø Six Serial ATA II connectors from south bridge with support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5, and JBOD
Ø Four Serial ATA II connectors from JMicron’s JMB362 (one rear panel port for eSATA, three onboard)
Ø Supports hot plug and NCQ (Native Command Queuing )
Ø Dual LAN interface built-in onboard
Ø Supports 10/100/1000 Mbit/sec Ethernet
Ø Supports hot plug
Ø Two 1394a ports (one rear panel port, one onboard header) with rate of transmission at 400 Mbps
Ø Azalia High-Definition audio
Ø Supports 8-channel audio
Ø Supports S/PDIF output
Ø Supports Jack-Sensing function
Triple PCI Express x16 Support
Ø 2 x16 PCI Express 2.0
Ø 1 x16 PCI Express 1.0
Ø Supports 4 GB/sec (8 GB/sec concurrent) bandwidth
Ø Low power consumption and power management features
Ø Supports ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface)
Ø Supports S0 (normal), S1 (power on suspend), S3 (suspend to RAM), S4 (Suspend to disk - depends on OS), and S5 (soft - off)
Ø Two PCI slots
Ø Two PCI Express x1 slot
Ø Three PCI Express x16 Graphics slots
- NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology: Dramatically scales performance by allowing two graphics cards to be run in parallel. Only available on select PCI-Express models.
- USB 2.0 Support: A standard plug and play interface providing easy to use connectivity for USB devices. Designed to support the new PCI Express 2.0 bus architecture, offering a future-proofing bridge to tomorrow’s most bandwidth-hungry games and 3D applications by maximizing 5 GT/s of bandwidth (twice that of first generation PCI Express). PCI Express 2.0 motherboards are fully backwards compatible with existing PCI Express products for broad support of PC peripherals.
- Nvidia Native Gigabit Etherrnet: The industry’s fastest Gigabit Ethernet performance, eliminates network bottlenecks and improves overall system efficiency and performance.
- Third PCI-Express Expansion Slot: Provides future support for 3 GPU applications
- NVIDIA RAID
- NVIDIA StreamThru Data Transport System
- Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
- NVIDIA nTune Performance Application
- NVIDIA Firewall Technology
- NVIDIA nForce Networking
- NVIDIA ForceWare Unified Software Environment (USE)
- Standard Serial ATA
- Extreme DDR3 Speeds with SLI-Ready Memory, including EPP2.0: DDR3 is a new PC technology that enables high memory speeds on desktop PCs. NVIDIA® nForce® 790i SLI® MCPs are the fastest DDR3 platform delivering extreme speed and increasing overall system performance. Including SLI-Ready Memory with EPP 2.0 for easy, one-click, hassle-free optimized memory performance.
- Overclocked FSB Speeds: Through overclocking, nForce 790i SLI MCPs can deliver FSB speeds well beyond specification. The front side bus (FSB) is specified to run at 1600MHz to support existing and future FSB speeds.
- Support for ESA: ESA provides real-time and complete PC performance management. Tested by a comprehensive certification program for system compatibility and reliability, ESA-certified components and applications bring you unprecedented control to manage and tune thermal, electrical, acoustic and operating characteristics to maximize your PC’s performance.
- NVIDIA MediaShield Storage: NVIDIA® MediaShield™ Storage is a suite of features that safeguards your most important digital media assets; always reliable, scalable, and accessible. Includes support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 configurations and up to six SATA 3Gb/s drives.
- NVIDIA FirstPacket technology: Be the ‘King of Ping’ with NVIDIA® FirstPacket™ technology. Get the crystal-clear phone conversations and online gaming performance you expect. FirstPacket technology assures your game data, VoIP conversations, and large file transfers are delivered according to preferences set by you in an intuitive wizard.
- High Definition Audio (HDA): High definition audio brings consumer electronics quality sound to the PC delivering high quality sound from multiple channels. Using HDA, systems can deliver 192 kHz/32-bit quality for eight channels, supporting new audio formats.
The information onthis page was compiled from information at both EVGA and Nvidia's websites.
To test the performance of the EVGA 790i SLI FTW motherboard I will be running it through a series of system as well as video gaming benchmarks to gauge the performance of the motherboard against some of the competing platforms. This is a way to show the upsides and downsides to a board when compared to the performance generated by the comparison boards. For the testing, all motherboards have been set at the factory default settings for the motherboard. The clock speed is manually adjusted to the default bus speed and clock multiplier while the memory has the sub timings set manually to minimize the variables that come into play with the settings on auto. Let's see if the 790i SLI FTW with its DDR3 memory will outperform the latest offerings with an Intel chipset.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 @ 333 x 8
- Motherboard: EVGA 790i SLI FTW
- Memory: Mushkin Ascent XP3 16000 1333MHz 6-6-5-16 1t
- Video Card: Palit Radeon HD 4850 w/ Catalyst 8.8
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 7200.11 750GB SATA w/32MB Cache
- Optical Drive: LG 16x DVD+/-RW
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Motherboard 1: Asus Striker II Extreme
- Comparison Motherboard 2: Asus P5Q Premium
- Comparison Motherboard 3: Gigabyte EP-45 Extreme
- Comparison Motherboard 4: ECS P45T-A
- Comparison Motherboard 5: ASUS P5QL-E
- Comparison Motherboard 6: Gigabyte GA-X48-DQ6
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 @ 450x8 = 3.60GHz
- System Memory: Mushkin Ascent XP3 16000 1800MHz 8-7-6-20 2t
Overclocking the EVGA 790i SLI FTW was very similar to the Striker II Extreme. Both boards reacted similarly when pushed with a quad core CPU and high speed DDR3 memory. Overclocking the memory takes a little patience but can be done. On this board I was able to push the test memory to 2100MHz but just could not find the stability I needed. 2000MHz was where the memory would really play nice with the CPU and board. When the memory is run unlinked from the CPU there is a performance hit so I found the best compromise between the memory and CPU at 1800MHz (450MHz on the CPU and 900MHz on the memory) Linked and Synced. When run in this configuration the performance is superior to when the memory is run unlinked. I found this configuration to be Prime stable for everyday use. This means no blue screens or lockups to eventually cause hard drive corruption. In all, it took a couple of hours worth of testing the memory to reach the speeds the overclocked benchmarks will be run at. The only issue I have is that the adjustments are much courser than those of the S2E. Even so, the results are similar.
- Scientific & Data:
- SPECviewperf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- SiSoft Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- CineBench 10
- HD Tune 2.55
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Juarez
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
- 3DMark 06 Professional
First up are the system specific benchmarks that will test overall scientific performance. For the science tests, only the scores with the 8800GT are shown to make the direct comparison to the other boards with the same setup.
To get things stated, I will begin with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory Use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files, as well as test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.
In Apophysis the EVGA 790i was just a tick slower than the S2E but on par or faster than the P45 offerings. In the WinRar testing the EVGA was faster in the Zip testing but fell just short of the S2E at the 100 and 500MB RAR tests.
SPECviewperf 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.
PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.
In the Specview tests the EVGA was just better across the board. That performance is repeated in the Vantage testing. Pretty surprising to see this kind of performance increase.
SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
There's a little good and a little bad going on in Sandra. In the memory bandwidth benchmark the EVGA came out on top. In some benchmarks it was not even competitive.
ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.
CineBench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
In Sciencemark the EVGA is at the top of the field. In Cinebench the EVGA scores are comparable to the rest of the boards. HDTune was kind of a surprise. In some of the tests it's right on the money but the CPU utilization and burst speed are not what they should be.
Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there has yet to be a single or multi-GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game. The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.
- Anti-Aliasing: x2
- Advanced settings to high
In Crysis the EVGA finished ahead of the Intel based boards in the 1024x768 and 1280x1024 tests and fell to the performance of the comparison boards at 1680x1050 and finished lower than all of the boards, save the ECS P45 based board.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Image Quality: High
- DirectX Version: 10
- All resolutions: 60Hz
The 790i SLI FTW performed better than or equal to our test rig in this comparison. By 1920x1200 the scores are pretty much the same.
BioShock is one of the creepier games out on the market, chronicling the building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong - its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory, with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left, while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies." It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.
- All settings to maximum
- V-Sync: Off
The 790i SLI FTW performed well in this benchmark. At 1680x1050 it just crushed the comparison boards by between 7 and 11 FPS.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering: Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings max
In three out of four resolutions the EVGA reigned supreme, including at 1920x1200.
World in Conflict is a DX10, Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering: x16
- Graphic Detail: Very High
In the two lower resolutions the EVGA finishes ahead of the comparison boards. At 1680x1050 the only boards ahead of it are the X48-DQ6 and P5QL-E.
Call of Juarez is a DX10, First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap Size: 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti-Aliasing: MSAA 4X
There really is no performance advantage one way or the other in Call of Juarez.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This Real Time Strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.
- Anti-Aliasing: x8
- All other settings to maximum
The performance differential between the boards is usually a single frame per second in most of the tested resolutions.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
The only boards to beat out the 790i in this comparison were the EP45 Extreme and X48-DQ6. When overclocked though, the EVGA stepped up with some decent increases in performance.
The EVGA 790i SLI FTW really only had one weakness that reared its ugly head and that was in the hard drive testing. The burst speed was not what it has been across multiple platforms and was noticeably slower. The access times in HDtune were almost double that of the other platforms. While the voltage adjustments were coarser than those of the Striker II Extreme, they did the job just fine. It is always nice to have that finer adjustability though so you can find that optimal voltage without any over-voltage. Now on to the positive things! To get the highest performance out of this board, you should find the best compromise of memory speed and CPU speed and run the memory and CPU Linked and Synced (basically 1:1). For my set of components this was at 1800MHz, 450MHz on the CPU and 900MHz on the memory. Corruption of the operating system has been one of the biggests gripes about the 790i and 790i Ultra chipsets. There have been several BIOS updates over the past few months that have addressed these issues and thankfully it was not an issue with this board from EVGA. Nvidia builds some notoriously hot running chipsets and motherboard manufacturers have had to come up with cooling solutions to keep the chipsets alive and performing. The 790i SLI FTW has an interconnected heatsink solution that uses heatpipes to draw the heat out of the components and disapate it via the actively cooled northbridge heatsink. Even with the maximum 1.57 volts pushed through the SPP it was barely warm to the touch. Quite an improvement.
When the Striker II Extreme was released with a massive $460 dollar price tag people were pretty shocked at the price. The price on the EVGA FTW edition board is still on the expensive side but comes in a full $170 dollars cheaper in the wallet impact department when compared to the S2E initial price. The difference in price today is more along the lines of $110 dollars, still a significant price differential. With similar performance the EVGA offers a better value for your money than the S2E. Currently the EVGA model is sitting atop the Futuremark Orb for 3DMark Vantage on the performance preset. A pretty impressive achievement. Less money for equal performance and a comparable bundle means you can't go wrong. And if you do need more performance, this board qualifies for the 90 day step up program and carries a limited lifetime warranty.
If gaming is your thing, the EVGA FTW has you covered with the ability to run dual, three way or four way (GX2 graphics cards only) SLI setup that has incredible scaling. Of course, you need video cards capable of running in an SLI or Tri SLI configuration. Three GTX 280 or two 9800GX2 video cards should be able to handle just about anything you can throw at it and ask for more. There you have it, a lower price, equal or better performance and a lifetime warranty, what more do you need?
*We will be including the EVGA in an SLI motherboard performance comparison, so stay tuned*
- ESA certified
- Tri Sli capable
- Heatpipe cooling
- 2000MHz ready
- Hard drive performance
- Coarse voltage adjustments