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NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review - The Motherboard

NVIDIA has some of the best IGP based chipsets out. Today the newest member of the family arrives on the 730i mGPU.

By: | NVIDIA Chipsets in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Oct 26, 2008 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASUS

The Board


NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review


It's time for a quick look at the board itself. NVIDIA specifies a Micro-ATX layout for the GeForce 9300 series and this is what ASUS has decided to produce the board on. The PCB is the same dark brown/black that we have seen across their high-end boards.


NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review


On the layout side of things, ASUS has done a good job of keeping the cable clutter to a minimum. On the right hand side of the board are all the major and large cables. At the top right is a black FDD connector and just below it is the 24-pin ATX power connector. Both of these connectors are located behind the four DDR2 memory slots. Below the power connector is a single red IDE connector which is rotated on its side to help keep the cables out of the way of the onboard devices as well as add-on cards. A large graphics card would run afoul of the IDE cable if it was upright. On the bottom of the board at the right hand side, just beside the case switch/LED panel header are five SATA ports; these ports are run off the MCP. The sixth port is diverted to the rear I/O for a single eSATA port.


The 4-pin power connector that is responsible for supplying the CPU with power is located on the top left of the board, behind the PS/2 & USB combo tower. This is the optimal layout as Micro-ATX cases are not very forgiving when it comes to extra space.


NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review


Moving along, we now come to the CPU area. ASUS has done a good job of keeping the CPU clear of high rise components to help air the installation of large heatsinks. This is however a bit redundant as this board is most likely to find its way into a Micro-ATX case or even a HTPC case which have space constraints. The CPU is fed its power through a 4-phase voltage regulation system which is run by ASUS' own EPU-4 engine.


NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review


Moving along, it's time to take a look at the rear I/O ports. ASUS has a fantastic arrangement here. First off, there are a total of four video output options. These include a single RGB port and a DVI port for output to monitors as well as two digital ports; firstly the HDMI port which we are familiar with quite intimately and also making an appearance is the new DisplayPort which has recently been added for output to digital monitors and home theatre systems. Why a new port is needed is beyond me as HDMI seems to be doing its job quite nicely.


As for digital audio, we have a single Toslink S/PDIF port resident. For media connections we have a single eSATA port for connection to external HDDs along with USB 2.0. There are no FireWire ports on this board, which is disappointing as FireWire is the chosen interface for digital video cameras.


NVIDIA nForce 730i / GeForce 9300 Chipset Review


Now it's finally onto the expansion slots and additional chipsets that the board comes with. Thanks to the abundance of PCI Express lanes that the GeForce 9300 is equipped with, ASUS has given the board a single PCI Express x16 slot for graphics cards as well as one PCI Express x1 slot and two PCI slots. There are no additional chipsets as the MCP has its own Gigabit Ethernet controller, HD audio and enough SATA and PATA ports.


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