NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2 - HotHardware

NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2

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Way back in late 2006, NVIDIA simultaneously unveiled a new flagship GPU and desktop chipset that became the foundation of what NVIDIA was calling the "ultimate gaming platform".  At the time, the combination of a pair of GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards and an nForce 680i SLI-based motherboard was clearly the most powerful hardware combo available for gamers.  And here we are, nearly a year and a half later in early 2008, and still that combo is tough to beat; truly a testament to NVIDIA's engineering abilities and execution.

Since the introduction of that version of NVIDIA's ultimate gaming platform, the company's product stack has changed quite a bit.  New GPUs have hit the scene in all segments of the market and desktop chipsets for both Intel and AMD platforms have been released as well.  But NVIDIA never went all out and released a full-on update to their proposed ultimate gaming platform, complete with a new flagship graphics card and nForce chipset - until today that is.

Rumors abound for the last few months regarding the GeForce 9800 GX2 and nForce 790i SLI Ultra, and today we can finally show you what all the fuss has been about.  This is a big day for NVIDIA.  A new desktop chipset complete with a DDR3-based memory controller is here, along with a dual-GPU powered monolith of a graphics card that is NVIDIA's most powerful to date.  Together, the combination of a GeForce 9800 GX2 (or GX2s), with the nForce 790i SLI Ultra chipset, redefine the high-end of desktop PC gaming hardware.  Read on for the details and to see just what 2008's version of the ultimate gaming platform can do...

 
Quad-SLI is Coming: The nForce 790i SLI Ultra with a pair of GeForce 9800 GX2 cards

NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra
Specifications and Features

First, let's talk a bit about the nForce 790i SLI Ultra.  Although the main focus of this article will revolve around this chipset, NVIDIA is actually releasing a few others as well.  The nForce 790i SLI and 750i SLI will also be debuting soon, with similar capabilities and feature sets.  As has historically been the case with NVIDIA's desktop chipsets, as you move further down the product stack, prices go down, and a few high-end features are stripped away.  In this case, the 750i SLI is a DDR2-based chipset, capable of 2-way SLI, with a single Gigabit Ethernet connector and PCI Express 2.0 support by way of the NF200 chip.

The nForce 790i SLI and 790i SLI Ultra, however, are more difficult to differentiate.  Essentially, the two chipsets are identical.  The Ultra version of the chipset is more vigorously binned and is capable of DDR3 memory speeds in excess of 2GHz.  The non-Ultra 790i SLI is officially supports DDR3 memory speeds as high as 1333MHz.  Other notable features to the 790i SLI chipset include 60 lanes of PCI Express connectivity with native gen 2 support, with 10 USB ports, ESA, Media Shield, and First Packet support, in addition to three-way and Quad-SLI support.

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Awesome. I guess that kinda settles it for me, then. My next system will indeed use nvidia gpus.

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Yep, just saw the review a few minutes ago, very nice. I want one. :)

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Want one? :) what about two? hehe

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 twos good

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I'm impressed.  The top of the line single slot performance has arrived.  And unlike the 3870X2 which sometimes fell behind 8800GTS-512 or 8800GTX performance, the 9800GX2 is top of the line virtually everytime.  For those with SLI motherboards already, going two 8800GTS-512 might be cheaper, but for Quad-Sli boards or people with only 1 slot, this is the way to go.  If you wanna spend $600, that is.  I wonder how it will perform against the 'real' single GPU 9700/9800/9900 or whatever cards that have yet to launch.

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780 chipset updated with ddr3 support..Yea, go 790I!...no..=P...lol

Nvidia chipsets have always been buggy on the intel side. The fact that these boards are going to be expensive...Nvidia is just going to be laughing there way to the bank with this. Nvidia may make fantastic cards...But their intel chipsets are far from complete..

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I so want that Asus MB but $469. The new features with this chipset are amazing though. I'll wait and see some results from the first batch of users to see if they're are many bugs.

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600 mhz for the core clock seems a bit slow for a 512 mb card that is supposed to blow my mind (even though there are two gpus in one container)... i wonder what the overclocking capabilities of this card are... if it can be pushed to really get some juice pumped out... from the reviews i've been reading, it seems like the gx2 is simply 2 x 8800 gts g92 chips slammed together... benchmarks show 2 x 8800 gts 512mb cards > 9800 gx2!?!? its cheaper to buy two 8800 gts cards and sli em at this point =\

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willardcw4:

its cheaper to buy two 8800 gts cards and sli em at this point =\

True.  But do remember that this is a single slot card.  If you already have a motherboard you are happy with and it's single slot, then this is the best upgrade available.  Although I suspect that anyone who is willing to spend $599 on a card probably has an SLI or X-Fire motherboard, you never know.  Plus you can get Quad-Sli with only two cards here.  It's only for a limitted market I think.  How many people have 8800GTX's or Ultra's?  High end cards don't sell that well anyway.  They just have a big profit per card sold.

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I do agree that having the 9800 gx2 as a single slot card is rather advantageous for quad sli, or for getting that much performance in one slot... but then I'd like to see a benchmark of quad 9800 vs tri-8800 gts in sli :)

 I just don't like something being sold for $599 + shipping that can be outperformed by a "older" architecture (which obviously isn't the case) for a cheaper price... However, I do have a feeling prices will drop fairly quick... ClubIT.com is already selling PNY 9800GX2s for $540 + shipping :)

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