XFX nForce 790i Ultra SLI Motherboard ReviewThu, May 01, 2008 - 12:00 AM
Bundle and BIOS
XFX has always had classy packaging for their products, and the XFX 790i Ultra is no exception.
Once you open the main box, you are greeted with another box that seems plain, but still calls for you to rip into it to get to the product.
Opening the inner box, you are greeted with a door hanger that says, “I’m gaming, do not disturb.” Now is that cool or what? It has been a long time since I was a teen, but I cannot see my parents really obeying a door hanger. Of course, I can see a 40 year old man sitting in his room in his underwear playing Crysis and is still living in his mom’s house hanging this up and thinking she will obey it… Sorry for the mental picture. Or maybe I just hit a nerve!
Opening the next inner green box you are greeted with some pink bubble wrap that the motherboard is actually placed in. XFX does do a great job packaging their stuff!
Underneath the motherboard box is another box that has the rest of the contents of the package. This includes the IDE, floppy and SATA cables, as well as the back I/O plate, a cooling fan for the chipset (you will want to use this, as discussed), and two SLI bridges which will enable you to run in traditional or 3-way SLI.
Inside the nicely designed envelope in the box are the owner’s manual (which is plenty detailed for any user), a quick start guide (which is always helpful) and the driver and application CD. Everything you need to get started is included. XFX did a good job with the bundle.
The BIOS is an AWARD BIOS. This is a very familiar BIOS for us to work with.
This is the Standard CMOS Features page.
The Advanced BIOS features page is where we can set our Boot devices, and it also has a few other settings that will affect how the system looks and acts as it boots up.
The Advanced Chipset Features page is where we will spend most of our time as we tweak the system out. This is where all the goodies are, like fsb settings and ram timings. Let’s dig in and see what we have!
The FSB and Memory Config page has some great options for tweaking included on it. First off, you have the ability to link or unlink the memory speed and the fsb speed. This is probably one of the greatest features on an Nvidia chipset board. I fell in love with this option on the 650/680 series boards. You also adjust the fsb and memory speeds here. The ability to set the memory timings is also located on this page in the BIOS. Let’s look a little closer at all the options mentioned.
The FSB is adjustable from 400-2800 fsb — plenty of headroom here for overclocking.
Memory speed is adjustable from 400-2500MHz. This also gives us plenty of room for overclocking.
We have the ability to adjust the primary and some secondary timings for our memory on this page of the BIOS. The option to set the command rate to either 1T or 2T is also nice to have.
The CPU configuration page will not be touched by most users, but you do have the option to turn on and off certain features of the CPU like Speedstep and extra cores on multi-core CPUs.
The System Voltages page gives us several more things that we can adjust. First off, vcore is able to be set up to 2.0v, which is way more than anyone should be using unless you are looking to blow something up!
CPU fsb voltage can be set to 1.55v.
Vdimm is able to be set up to 2.0v, which is probably not high enough for many in the die-hard enthusiast crowd, but it will work for most.
nForce SPP voltage can be set to 1.55v.
nForce MCP voltage can be set to 1.75v.
All of the GTLVREF lanes can be set to +155mv.
Another nice feature on the XFX 790iUltra board is the NVMEM memory test.
These two pictures show us that this BIOS provides us with the ability to save BIOS settings and to later load them back if we decide to mess around with things as we are tweaking the system. This is a nice feature to have, especially for the person that likes to tinker around all the time!
The Integrated Peripherals page is where we are able to set up our hard drives and other things like LAN, firewire and audio options.
The System Monitor page allows us to monitor the vital statistics of our rigs as we push things. The 790i gives us enough for us to be well informed on the health of our system.