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EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW

EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW

Manufacturer: EVGA
UK Price (as reviewed): £128.06 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $189.99 (ex. Tax)

Introduction

If you're a regular in our community forum then you'll know we automatically replace the phrase "FTW" with "Cheesecake" and we've even got The Cheesecake Factory so we can all discuss our love for all things sweet.

It's a little in-house humour that catches a few people, but one that slides into a whole different level now thanks to EVGA. We've previously reported about the EVGA nForce 780i SLI Cheesecake back in January at CES in Las Vegas, and now we come to look at the little brother: the nForce 750i SLI.

The nForce 750i SLI isn't a far extension from last year's nForce 650i SLI - it's essentially a revision to better support Intel 45nm and quad core CPUs with the addition of the NF200 chipset that does cool little things.

However, this board isn't just a run-of-the-mill reference design - this is an entirely rebuilt design by EVGA, who recently employed quite a few ex-EpoX engineers (spurning fond memories of my 4PCA3+ with six IDE ports and an insane array of Maxtor disks) to make this board feature-tweaked as much as any other enthusiast brand.

Nvidia nForce 750i SLI

EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW Introduction to the nForce 750i SLI EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW Introduction to the nForce 750i SLI
Click to enlarge

EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW Introduction to the nForce 750i SLIWe'll dive into the nForce 750i SLI for only a second, because there's quite literally very little to say. For the uninitiated, if you're after SLI then an Nvidia chipset is the only way to go. However, for those not willing to fork out for an expensive nForce 780i SLI motherboard, the nForce 750i SLI is the only performance mainstream option if you want true 45nm support.

The nForce 750i SLI is quite literally a tweaked version of the nForce 650i SLI, but with now official support for 1,333MHz FSB Intel CPUs and the nForce 200 chip bolted onto it. This gives two PCI-Express 2.0 lanes that are either one x16 or a pair of x16's for SLI. According to the image above it does say x16/x8, however EVGA confirmed that it was in fact dual x16 instead.

In actual fact, it's our opinion that the nForce 750i SLI is pretty much the 650i SLI after having been botoxed and face-lifted to its limits - only two extra PCI-Express lanes are available and neither are PCI-Express 2.0. DDR2 support is still limited to 800MHz (nForce 780i SLI claims 1,200MHz), and although it unofficially supports 1,066MHz, it still doesn't include EPP. Worst of all though, Nvidia still saw fit to throw in the ancient NF430 southbridge.

EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW Introduction to the nForce 750i SLI The NF430 is still limited to just four SATA 3Gbps ports, eight USB 2.0 and only a single PHY Gigabit Ethernet. Nvidia does include support for its Control Panel Utility and System Monitor software, but stops at throwing in ESA interface support as well.

Quite frankly we consider this seriously limited. Although AMD's SB600 southbridge is not much better, its SB750 arrives shortly and is due to replace the SB600 everywhere - the same can't be said for the NF430. Intel's ICH8/9/10R southbridges have pushed the fold out further with greater core features all round for over two years now, as well. What crazies us out is why Nvidia didn't include its nForce 680i LT SLI MCP, which would have been the happy medium.

However, and that is a big, bold "H", EVGA employs its own team of motherboard engineers now - so it should understand these deficiencies and fill in the gaps, right? Or have they improved it elsewhere not so obvious? This was a key question we needed to find answers for...