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jmke 19th March 2008 22:14

Nvidia nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset
Nvidia is pushing hard on the platform front with its technology portfolio – ESA, EPP 2.0 and SLI are all core Nvidia products associated with the nForce 790i Ultra SLI motherboard and this launch. While some are open standards, so no royalties are claimed when using them, it doesn't mean all is well for the ultra-high-end user.

To say the cost of upgrading to use the nForce 790i (Ultra) SLI is significant is certainly an understatement: on top of one of the most expensive motherboards ever sold, you'll need super expensive performance DDR3 memory (with EPP 2.0) to make the most of it. Then there's the fact that running at over 1,600MHz limits the board to just two DIMM slots, so running 4GB in 2x2GB has just gone from selling organs to selling your children as well.

There is a value add with all manners of SLI support, but you can get that with plenty of other nForce 7-series boards, although in this case the north bridge is tweaked to use SLI better. ESA is entirely optional if you want to invest in it or not and again provides an upgrade feature choice – that said, we expect this more to be jumped upon by companies that build complete systems, rather than end users.

It was designed to be too expensive and a niche product, so don't get your knickers in a twist. While you may care about that because you want the latest and greatest, Nvidia doesn't. And you can bet your cotton socks that the top Futuremark slots will all consist of nForce 790i SLI boards going forwards – that’s prime marketing material above all else.

Be wary of what's coming out in the next few months too: there's no telling what else Nvidia will launch in the summer on the Intel front, because it has promised a chipset that sports Hybrid SLI support, and would you want to spend all that money on a new board and not have access to these new technologies? Well, maybe not in actual fact, because those running a 30" monitor (an expensive likelihood with this) aren’t likely to care about the significant power savings offered by Hybrid SLI. The first incarnation of Hybrid SLI might be one to skip then. Does the nForce 790i Ultra SLI then become an investment for the constantly-upgrading early adopter? Quite Probably. But how many of those are there?

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