Our nForce 780a Test Board
Moving along, we come to the NVIDIA 780a test board we were sent. Again, it's an ASUS motherboard with the model number M3N-HT Deluxe. This board is based around the same 30x24cm ATX layout like the M3A32-MVP, and again the same colour PCB is used.
Layout again is extremely clean in design; the 24-pin power connector gets located behind the four colour coded DDR2 memory slots. The 4/8 pin connector gets placed behind the rear I/O ports at the top left of the board. The single IDE port and six SATA ports controlled by the 780a MCP are on the right hand edge of the board.
The power regulation system on the 780a board is identical to that of the 790FX board; a 10 phase voltage regulation system powers the CPU to give it as much power as physically possible. This is very handy when running top powered quad cores that have a 125watt TDP. A heatpipe assembly cools the nForce 200, 780a and the Mosfets in one swoop. The CPU socket is extremely clean allowing for large coolers to be installed without any interference from external components.
Lastly, the expansion slots. NVIDIA 780a does not support Quad SLI, only 3-way SLI. There are three PCI Express x16 slots; two are blue, one is black. If you plan to run a single or standard SLI setup, you can plug the cards into the two blue slots which will retain full x16 speeds. If you want 3-way SLI, a third card gets placed in the black slot, this then sets the lower blue slot back to a x8 speed and the remaining bandwidth is transferred to the black x8 slot. At the bottom of the board a single PCI Express x1 slot supporting PCI-E 2.0 specs is included and two PCI legacy slots are also supplied.