Asus M3N78 Pro: Geforce 8300 & HybridPower Explored

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Asus M3N78 Pro: Geforce 8300 & HybridPower Explored

July 13, 2008 by Lawrence Lee

Product Asus M3N78 Pro
AM2/AM2+ Motherboard
Manufacturer ASUSTeK
Street Price US$105

The release of AMD's 780G chipset was a big step for integrated graphics. It proved to be the best gaming IGP released to date, showed great proficiency in playing high definition video, provided a multitude of output options, and delivered it all with high energy efficiency and a low price-tag. The new Hybrid Crossfire feature also assured that the IGP would continue to make a contribution even if a discrete ATI graphics card was installed. With 780G, AMD became the platform of choice for those on a budget, but demanding good value.

As far as we know, none of Intel's IGPs come even close at this ttime. nVidia has also been slow to react, with the majority of their mATX motherboards still based on the aging Geforce 6100 chipset. On the AMD side, they seemed to have skipped the Geforce 7 series altogether. The Asus M3N78 Pro under scrutiny here is one of a new series, powered by the new Geforce 8300 chipset. Its IGP is based on the Geforce 8400GS and supports all the latest standards including HyperTransport 3.0, PCI Express 2.0, and video features like DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0. Its PureVideo HD decoding technology can fully decode H.264 and VC-1 (Blu-ray) content, leaving the CPU more free to perform other duties.

Last but not least, the 8300 chipset supports Hybrid SLI — nVidia's answer to ATI Hybrid Crossfire. When combined with an entry-level nVidia graphics card, it can work in tandem with the IGP to boost performance. When partnered with a high-end nVidia graphics card, the card can be shut off completely when its services are not required, or so they claim. The M3N78 Pro is perfectly suited for the later feature, as it is a full-sized ATX board — the defacto choice for high-powered PCs.


The M3N78 Pro box has a semi-reflective coating. It's not humongous.



The accessories.

The M3N78 Pro comes with IDE and floppy cables, two SATA data cables and two SATA power adapters. DVI is available via a HDMI to DVI dongle and VGA through a PCI bracket with a cable that patches into a connector on the board. A manual, support disc, I/O shield and Q-Connector kit round out the accessories.

Asus M3N78 Pro: Specifications (from the product web page)
CPU

AMD Socket AM2+ / AM2 Phenom FX/Phenom/Athlon /Sempron Processors
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
AMD Live!™ Ready
Support CPU up to 140W
Chipset NVIDIA GeForce 8300
System Bus Up to 5200/MT/s HyperTransport™ 3.0 interface for AM2+ CPU
2000/1600 MT/s for AM2 CPU
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1066/800/667 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*Due to AMD CPU limitation, DDR2 1066 is supported by AM2+ CPU for one DIMM per channel only.
**Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List)
***When installing total memory of 4GB capacity or more, Windows® 32-bit operation system may only recognize less than 3GB. Hence, a total installed memory of less than 3GB is recommended.
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe x16 (Support PCIe 2.0 / 1.0 Architecture )
2 x PCIe x1
3 x PCI 2.2

VGA
Integrated NVIDIA GeForce® 8 Series GPU
Hybrid SLI™ Support (supports Windows Vista only)
Supports HDMI™ Technology with max. resolution up to 1920 x 1200
Supports DVI with max. resolution up to 1920 × 1200 @ 60 Hz
Supports D-Sub with max. resolution up to 1920 × 1440 @ 75 Hz
HDMI/DVI/RGB Support
Supports Microsoft® DirectX 10, OpenGL 2.0, Pixel Shader 4.0
Support PCIe 2.0 / 1.0 Architecture
Maximum shared memory of 512MB
Storage NVIDIA® GeForce 8300
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66/33
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports (Use SATA1-4 for IDE mode.)
NVIDIA® MediaShield™ RAID Support RAID 0,1,0+1,5,JBOD
LAN NVIDIA Gigabit MAC
Realtek® 8211CL Gigabit PHY featuring AI NET2

Audio
Realtek® ALC1200 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
Support Jack Detection and Multi-streaming
IEEE 1394 LSI® FW322 controller supports 2 x 1394a ports
USB 12 USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features ASUS Express Gate
- Web browser, file downloading and uploading*
- Further free features upgradable
* File downloading and uploading through USB devices only
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
- ASUS AI Gear 2
- ASUS AI Nap
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
- 4+1 Phases ASUS Power Design
ASUS Crystal Sound
- ASUS Noise Filter
ASUS EZ DIY
- ASUS Q-Connector
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
Overclocking Features Intelligent overclocking tools
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
Precision Tweaker
- vDIMM: 8 -step DRAM voltage control
- vCore: Adjustable CPU voltage at 0.0125V increment
- vChipset 4-step Chipset voltage control
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection)
- FSB tuning from 200MHz to 600MHz at 1MHz increment
- Memory tuning from 533MHz up to 1066MHz
- PCI Express frequency tuning from 100MHz up to 200MHz at 1MHz increment
Overclocking Protection
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features ASUS MyLogo 2
Uses 100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors!

Back Panel I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x S/PDIF Out
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x HDMI
Internal I/O Connectors 3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x COM connector
1 x VGA connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU Fan connector
1 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
Front panel audio connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header
1 x IEEE1394a connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
CD audio in
24-pin ATX Power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System Panel
BIOS 8 Mb Flash ROM
DMI 2.0
PnP
WfM 2.0
SM BIOS 2.5
Award BIOS
ACPI 2.0
ASUS EZ Flash 2
O/S Compatibility Windows Vista
Windows XP
Accessories UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
FDD cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
D-Sub module
HDMI to DVI connector
Q-Shield
User's manual
3 in 1 Q-connector
Support Disc Drivers
Express Gate Lite
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )



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