Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Good, but could be better.
on May 15, 2008
This review will be divided in three parts dealing with the chipset choice, the 780 itself and specifically with the EVGA mobo.
When choosing a chipset for your new mobo, you are confronted with basically two choices: Intel and nVidia.
Intel chipsets are very stable and highly overclockable. If you buy an Intel mobo, you will be pleased to find out that on top of their stability they have no chipset fans, what contributes to the overall low level of noise of your system.
The downside of the choice is that they do not support SLI, but Cross Fire instead. If you are a gamer, this is an issue because nVidia video cards are far ahead ATI's in terms of performance and power consumption.
nVidia mobos obviously support SLI, but have a serious thermal issue. Their chipsets get extremely hot and, perhaps because of that, are generally more limited when it comes to overclocking. My own personal claim about it: nVidia, PLEASE, INVEST IN NEWER DIES TO SOLVE IT!
This thermal issue, in turn, contributes to overall noise level, for you are forced to place a 60mm fan over your chipset. Summing up: if you run CPU intensive applications, like simulations, go for an Intel chipset/mobo. If you are a gamer, you probably have to choose NVIDIA.
Of course, all this discussion assumes you have chosen an Intel processor.
If you have chosen an nVidia chipset, the choices today are 780 and 790. Ruling out the 790 for its price and DDR3 issues, you're locked with 780.
As you probably read elsewhere, the 780 is just a 680 with 3 PCIE slots (2 of them are 2.0), ESA support and, most important of all, support to new 45nm Intel processors. Nothing else changed dramatically.
Sometimes, 1333Mhz FSB support is advertised as something new, but it's not. Remember that xx50 processors were already supported by 680 mobos. The real issue is the 45nm Penryn technology.
nVidia could release 680 mobos with Penryn support if minor fixes were made. Quite understandably, however, they have opted to fix it and add some gimmicks to throw in a new product and basket the marketing gains.
So far, then, two conclusions: the first one is that 680 mobos no longer make sense. The second is that you should buy a 780 mobo if, and only if, you are buying a new system today. If you are satisfied with your non-Penryn system, just up grading your mobo makes no sense.
But suppose you're buying a new rig today and decided for the 780. What are the choices?
As most people know, nVidia authorized partners do not produce their mobos. Instead, nVidia centralizes the process and allows them just to print their names (EVGA, XFX etc.) on the board. Therefore, the choice between these manufacturers is very subjective and done by details like warranty, RMA policies etc. Because my previous experience with EVGA was very good in terms of bios up-dates, I stick to them.
What most people don't know, however, is that nVidia itself does not produce mobos as well. They buy them from Foxconn, medium-medium quality producer from Taiwan.
In other words, be advised that you are not buying an nVidia/EVGA/BFG/XFX mobo; you're buying a Foxconn mobo.
That said, what follows applies almost 100% to all these other manufacturers.
It's a great product with two serious issues.
The first one is its original incompatibility with SATA optical drives. The problem was fixed via bios update and there is a chance that if you buy a brand new mobo today you won't experience it. I had to go through it and it was a hard time: blue screen when trying to install anything, than finding an old IDE optical drive, updates...
The second one is the position of the chipset fan (remember what I said before about heating?). The way it's placed, it blows hot air directly on your video card. Not the smartest thing to do considering that my 8800 Ultra already runs at 72C.
Some have fixed it using a regular 60mm fan placed over the chipset radiator and inverting the airflow.
I find this solution cumbersome for you won't be able to use the fittings to securely place the fan on the mobo.
My suggestion is to cut the red and black wires of the fan about half their length and invert them, connecting the first half of the black wire to the second half of the red wire and vice-versa. You get the inverted airflow in a more elegant way.
Others complain about minor issues such as non-solid capacitors outside the voltage regulation circuit, could-be-better codec etc, but these are minor.
Over all, a good product.