Need an SLI motherboard but have less than $200 to spend? No need to stress, as the 750i SLI chipset was designed with you in mind. We are taking a look at how eVGA put the chipset to good use in the form of their 750i SLI FTW board, which offers solid performance and overclocking-ability, in addition to great board design.
It’s been a little while since we’ve taken a look at an NVIDIA-based motherboard, so to say that we are long overdue for another would be an understatement. I’m happy to report though, that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time over the past few weeks with eVGA’s 750i SLI FTW board, an affordable offering designed both for the enthusiast and the gamer.
NVIDIA’s chipset line-up currently includes the 750i SLI, 780i SLI, 790 SLI and also the very high-end 790 Ultra SLI. You can guess that the 750i SLI we are taking a look at today is designed to be an entry-level product, but it’s far from being a low-end offering, as we’ll soon see.
The main draw for the 750i SLI will of course be the price, and this particular board currently retails for around ~$180. That puts it on par with Intel’s higher-end P45 offerings. Where 750i SLI arguably has the biggest benefit though is with the dual 16x PCI-E slots, for multi-GPU mode. Intel’s P45 also offers two 16x slots, but when used in dual-GPU mode, they effectively drop down to 8x, effectively killing top-end performance.
The chipset also features support for DDR2-800 (though eVGA broke that spec) and can also handle any recent Intel CPU, including the 45nm Wolfdale and Yorkfield.
The last eVGA motherboard I used was their 680i SLI, which was the highest-end offering of last-gen. It was a great board and one of the most well-rounded I had used in a while. It had fantastic performance and an incredible overclocking-ability (especially on the memory side), and luckily, NVIDIA’s 7-series didn’t change much.
eVGA’s 750i SLI board is part of their ‘FTW’ series. I at first thought it was an explicit statement, but once I got my head out of the gutter, I realized that it was ‘For The Win’. eVGA no doubt has the same sentiment about their boards over the competition, which is why the tag might be appropriate.
Despite the lighter color in the photo, the PCB used on eVGA’s board is dark-brown. Not quite black, but close. At first glance, nothing appears out of the ordinary with the design, so let’s go ahead and take a closer look.
Unlike the higher-end 790i chipset, 750i supports DDR2 only, officially at DDR2-800 speeds. Given the fact that DDR2-800 feels so 2005, eVGA kindly broke the spec and offer promises of DDR2-1066 supported speeds.
Towards the bottom-right-hand corner, numerous connections come into view. Being a ‘budget’ model, only 4 S-ATA ports are available off the board itself. Their placement is absolutely perfect, though, with ample space between each set in order to effectively maximize your cable-routing scheme. The fact that they are side-mounted makes it an even sweeter deal.
Also found below are the ATX chassis connectors, the BIOS chip (finally, one that’s really accessible), the BIOS battery, BIOS status LED and also a USB connector. Two fan connectors can also be seen in this image.
Continuing along to the ports, we can see three regular PCI slots in addition to a single PCI-E 1x and of course the dual 16x slots. This board is SLI-ready and could even handle Quad-SLI if you had two graphic cards with two GPUs each, such as the 9800 GX2. Two more fan connectors can also be seen here.
Although the heatsink on eVGA’s board offers ample performance, it doesn’t really compete with the higher-end offerings seen on some boards from the competition, such as ASUS and Gigabyte. Looks are not what’s important though, and I appreciate the fact that there is a lot of room for airflow, and that it’s not completely dominated by a massive piece of copper thats main purpose is looks.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the board design and layout. Everything seems to be located in the most convenient location, which is a lot more than I could say last year about the 680i SLI. Note that the board also features a 6-phase power solution, which seems to pale in comparison to some of the competition, but should prove more than enough for light overclocking and high stability.
Taking a look at the back I/O panel, we can see dual PS/2 connectors, for mouse and keyboard, Firewire, two USB, S/PDIF, 7.1 channel audio, four more USB and also a single LAN connection.
The 750i SLI FTW might be eVGA’s current lowest-end offering, but neither the board or included accessories makes it obvious. In addition to generic connectors (ODD, HDD), eVGA ships the board with two additional back-panel slot-fillers to add another Firewire port, should you need it, and four more USB ports. If you take them up on their offer, that means you get 10 USB ports right off the get-go.
Finally, also included is an SLI bridge, chipset fan, I/O panel, manuals and of course the driver CD-Rom. Can you think of anything that was left out? I sure can’t, so let’s move onto a look at the BIOS, and then finally, the performance reports.