NVIDIA nForce 780a chipset - ASUS Crosshair II Formula motherboard review
Ask any hardware enthusiast of a certain vintage what their all-time favourite motherboard is, and the chances are a lot of them will name a part based around NVIDIA's nForce 2 chipset, a part which combined the speed and low pricing of AMD's Athlon XP processors with an excellent, well designed and fully featured motherboard chipset. Fast forward on a little, and we saw boards based around NVIDIA's nForce 4 chipset gaining huge popularity while Athlon 64 processors were king of the hill.
However, as Intel have regained the CPU performance crown virtually across the board, so AMD's latest Phenom offerings have had rather a desolate landscape when it comes to picking and choosing a motherboard, with your choice limited largely to only AMD's own offerings - Not that this was a particularly bad thing in itself, but for those of us who remember NVIDIA's triumphant offerings for the AMD platform in the past it was a little sad to see, particularly for anyone considering pairing a Phenom CPU with two NVIDIA boards in SLI.
As of today, that imbalance has been removed, with the introduction of the high-end nForce 780a chipset from NVIDIA. This part is intriguing for more than just Phenom support however, as its inclusion of an integrated graphics processor also gives us our first glimpse at NVIDIA's Hybrid SLI technology in the flesh, something that the company have been touting for a little while.
Well, that's quite enough pre-amble for now, let's start by digging in to the technology that makes up the nForce 780a chipset, before looking at our true focus for this review, ASUS' latest Republic of Gamers motherboard, the Crosshair II Formula.