XFX nForce 790i Ultra SLI Motherboard Review

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Board Layout

xfx 790i motherboard review

As you take your first peek at the board, you can see that it looks great!  The black PCB is classy.  Another thing that jumps at you is the massive heat sink that is literally wrapping itself all over the board.  It is a very unique design, and actually has a very cool look to it (very subjective I know).  Take a closer look at the heat sink.

xfx 790i motherboard review

The heat sink did get very warm at times.  We did not seem to experience any heat related issues while testing, though.  If you are into the extreme overclocker, you will certainly want to think about a fan to cool the heat sink as it dissipates heat.  We did have the fan from our test bench on the entire time we tested.

xfx 790i motherboard review

The top right corner is where we find our 24-pin power connector.  It is optimally placed at the edge of the board.  To the left of the power connector we find our dimm slots.  The XFX 790i Ultra has four dimm slots that support Dual Channel 240-pin DDR3 up to 2000MHz w/ EPP 2.0.  Just under the 24-pin power connector we have our IDE connector, and to the left of that we have four of our six SATA connectors.  The XFX board is able to run RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.

xfx 790i motherboard review

 

A close-up of the SATA ports on this part of the motherboard shows us just how crowded it is.  Once you get things set there should be no problem, but it is a little cramped for space here.

xfx 790i motherboard review

The bottom right corner is the location of several interesting things on the XFX 790I ultra.  The BIOS chip is located here.  It is a socketed BIOS, so if you mess it up, there is the opportunity to get another one.  That is always a nice option.  We have our USB and Firewire headers here as well.  The Front panel pin connector is on the bottom right corner of the board and is color coded for ease of use.  You forget how nice the color coding is until you use a board (or in my case, about 3 in a row) that does not have the pins color coded.  At the edge of the bottom right of the board we have two more of our SATA ports, an LED diagnostic and our floppy connector.  Take a closer look at the corner…

xfx 790i motherboard review

xfx 790i motherboard review

In the left corner of the board we see the slots for our add-in cards.  The XFX 790i Ultra board has a total of three PCI-E x16 slots.  Two of these are PCI-E 2.0 compliant; the other is PCI-E 1.o only.  There are also two PCI-E x1 slots and two legacy PCI slots.

xfx 790i motherboard review

This corner of the board is also where the audio and dual gigabit LAN chips are located.  Audio is supplied by the Realtek ALC888S which supplies 8-channel high definition sound.

xfx 790i motherboard review

At the top left of the XFX 790i Ultra we find our CPU socket.  This board supports the Intel socket 775 family of processors.  The socket is surrounded by the massive heat sink that we talked about earlier.  There could potentially be some fitting issues with some of the aftermarket coolers that are manufactured.  Our Corsair water cooler was just fine, and the stock Intel cooler was also fine, but if you get into putting an air conditioner sized heat sink and fan on the CPU, you may run into issues.

xfx 790i motherboard review

 

Just behind the I/O ports we find the 8-pin 12v connector.  It is a little tight to fit just because the heatsinks are so big, but once in place it really is out of the way.  Also, in this picture you can see the red colored SATA port that is just above the top x1 PCI-E slot.  This SATA port is for the eSATA port that is on the back I/O port where we also find our standard ps/2 connectors for mouse and keyboard, optical and coaxial SPDIF, a firewire port, six USB ports (you can have up to ten with the included USB headers), your dual gigabit Ethernet ports and your six audio jacks.  The options on this board are very nice and give you lots of flexibility as you set up your board.

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