Testing contemporary mainboards based on Nvidia chipsets is a real challenge for a hardware reviewer. At least for a responsible reviewer who cares about his reputation. All our previous experience with LGA775 mainboards based on nForce core logic sets indicates that it is really hard to make any positive conclusions about them without deceiving the readers. And even if the board performs impeccably during the test session, it doesn’t quite do it. Nvidia Company have lost their credibility as a developer of reliable and stable solutions back in the days of nForce 680i SLI. After the mainboards based on it got into the mass market, the users experienced numerous incidents when they lost data from their hard drives because of the chipset bugs. And later on the owners of nForce 680i SLI based mainboards had to face pretty unpleasant compatibility issues with Intel’s quad-core Penryn processors, although Nvidia used to claim there would be none. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to reveal issues like that during a regular editorial test session, since they occur occasionally and only in certain conditions.
Unfortunately, our first reviews of mainboards based on Nvidia’s 6th chipset series didn’t reveal any of those problems. And we did give these products very good verdicts, which made us feel really guilty later on. After that we became much more careful about their system chipsets and even tried to avoid them. However, we can’t disregard Nvidia’s attempts in the chipset segment and cannot leave their new nForce 790i SLI completely out of our consideration. Especially since Nvidia keeps stimulating the sales of mainboards on their core logic using the graphics card market as the driving force. As you know, SLI technology allows using several graphics cards on GeForce GPUs in a single configuration. However, you can only enjoy SLI if you have a mainboard based on an Nvidia nForce chipset in your system. And although the only reason behind this restriction is pure marketing, we have to put up with it. The manufacturer forces users who are willing to build a high-performance multi-GPU graphics subsystem to buy unpredictable mainboards, and we, reviewers, face a tricky task of giving them a fair and objective evaluation.
Today we are going to talk about a new ASUS mainboard based on the latest Nvidia chipset for LGA775 platform – nForce 790i SLI. Frankly speaking, we hoped that this chipset will help us erase the unpleasant memories from the previous generation solutions. But our hopes will never come true, as you may have already figured out. Mainboards on the 7th generation nForce chipsets bring in new obstacles that are practically as destructive as the old ones. Nvidia engineers currently keep fighting the traditional unexplainable HDD data losses as well as spontaneous error occurring during memory overclocking, system freeze during video playback, etc. That is why if you read through several reviews and decided to get yourself a new nForce 790i SLI based mainboard, we strongly advise to check out the users’ feedback in numerous forums first.
Keeping in mind that nForce 790i SLI may cause all sorts of issues, we are going to review a new ASUS Striker II Extreme (NSE) mainboard that came to replace ASUS Striker Extreme in the Republic of Gamers series.