Sapphire 780G Motherboard and Hybrid CrossFire

Posted on May 9, 2008
Author: Sean Potter
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6
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Introduction

Typically, I try to avoid integrated chipsets. Integrated chipsets are usually meant for mainstream use and don't feature gaming-class graphics options. Fortunately, ATI recently introduced the new 780G chipset with more than just a beefier integrated graphics solution: Hybrid Crossfire.

Sapphire sent us its PURE-series PI-AM2RS780G motherboard featuring the 780G chipset. This chipset is capable of handling 125W Phenom processors—something of which other 780G motherboards are incapable. On-board is a Radeon HD3200 integrated graphics solution, which may not seem overly powerful on its own, but Hybrid Crossfire promises to raise the bar.

Appearance & Features

The PI-AM2RS780G's packaging in a black-and-green box, bearing AMD's ever-familiar colors, and logo. Sharing space with AMD's logo is Sapphires', and Sapphire's "PURE" brand logo resides on the bottom of the box's front side.

The rear of the box shares the color scheme, and lists several of the board's top-features such as the chipset, DDR2 RAM support, Hybrid Graphics, High Definition supports, and RAID functionality. To the right of the features is an overall product description:

Escaping the limitations of traditional mainboards, the Sapphire PURE CrossFire line has long been declared the frame-rate leader for gaming platforms, as well as the clear choice for enthusiasts, and the Sapphire PURE Hybrid CrossFire 780G tightens the family's grip on the reputation as the industries innovative answer to the performance vs. stability debate. Built upon AMD's eagerly anticipated 780G chipset, the Sapphire PURE Hybrid CrossFire technology provides video upgrades for integrated motherboard PC users.

Along with the 780G chipset, the PI-AM2RS780G also features the SB700 southbridge, which controls audio, hard drives, PCI-Express, and USB. Below are the selling features of the board:

Chipset: AMD® 780G + SB700
Processor: Support AMD® AM2/AM2+ CPU
DirectX ® 10 Gaming
ATI Hybrid CrossFire HD3200 Graphics
Full HD Experience
Ultimate Green PC
HT3.0 support
DDRII DIMM up to 8GB 800MHz Dual Channel
Internal Video output: DVI-D(HDMI) + VGA

Amongst these features are a single PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot running at full speed, and two PCI slots. It's somewhat a disappointment Sapphire didn't include a PCI-Express x1 slot for additional expansion such as a TV Tuner.

The board supports up to 8 GB of RAM and six SATA2 hard drives, making sure some seriously storage and memory power. Not many mATX motherboards feature four RAM slots.

Hybrid CrossFire is AMD's newest creation. It works by allowing users to run two similar graphics cards in a CrossFire configuration. The cards need not be the same model, but similar in terms of specifications. For this review, the motherboard's integrated graphics chipset will run alongside a low-end discrete graphics card in a CrossFire configuration. It promises a 40-70% jump in performance in many of today's games, but we're curious what kind of jump that be when the discrete card in question is the Radeon HD3450, also provided by Sapphire. Impressive as it may seem, but the RS780 graphics core is merely a Radeon HD2400 integrated with the motherboard. Now that's some real power.

The Radeon HD3450 is a PCI-Express 2.0 discrete graphics card, and features a passive cooling heatsink, meaning the card is dead silent. It supports DirectX 10, as well as ATI's unified video decoder, which takes the load of the CPU while watching HD movies. Aside from Hybrid CrossFire, the card itself supports CrossFireX, allowing for scaling up to four GPUs. Today, however, we'll only be looking at Hybrid CrossFire.

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