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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Hard Drive Performance?

Every so often, my base install of Ubuntu 8.04 feels slightly sluggish. After running some of the Phoronix benchmarks, I understood why: the hard drive was only being read at a mere 1.83MB/sec, whereas it was being read at an average of 67MB/sec in Windows.

My first inclination was to change the SATA controller's mode in the BIOS, but this proved fruitless: the results were the same. After some investigation online, I found that some of the patches meant for the new SB700 southbridge may not have made it in to the kernel just yet. As kernel 2.6.25 is not yet in Ubuntu's repository at the time of this writing, I decided to stick with the 2.6.24 kernel for the above benchmarks. Despite the lag in hard drive speed, the board still put the heat on the GeForce 6150.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

Unlike some the results I saw in our review of the Radeon HD3870 Toxic, Sapphire's AMD offering is the clearcut winner between motherboards in this review. In Windows, we saw a slight performance gap between the 780G's onboard graphics compared to the 6150's offering, but when I compared the HD3450 and Hybrid CrossFire against the GeForce 6150, that gap only lengthened, putting AMD on top.

I saw a 40% to 80% increase in performance while the 780G's onboard graphics were in CrossFire mode with the Radeon HD3450, with Hybrid Crossfire nearly doubling the onboard graphic's 3dMark06 score.

In Linux, where I expected to see the GeForec 6150 / nForce 430 motherboard regain some ground, I was surprised to see the performance gap between the products remain the same. Although Hybrid Crossfire isn't available to Linux users, the HD3450 and 780G kept a 20% to 30% lead on the GeForce 6150.

Since Sapphire's PI-AM2RS780G and Radeon HD3450 are both HDCP compliant, there should be no issues using a DVD-D to HDMI adapter to connect these graphics solutions to an HDTV for some high definition gaming or movie watching.

The only downsides I found with the board was the poor Linux support for the SATA controller, and the fact that the system locks up when trying to run 3dMark Vantage with the 780G's onboard graphics. Otherwise, Sapphire's PI-AM2RS780G has proved to be a powerful and ultimately stable base for any AMD-based system. With support for Hybrid CrossFire, consumers are free to buy this motherboard and upgrade their 3D performance at a later time with the purchase of a Radeon HD3450 or similar card.

Pros

  • PCI-Express 2.0 Support
  • Onboard video is fast for onboard video
  • 6 SATA II ports
  • Dual Monitor Support
  • Hybrid CrossFire with Radeon 3450 and similar cards for improved performance
  • Support for 125W Phenom CPUs
  • HDCP / HDMI compliant for watching HD movies on HD displays

Cons

  • Linux support for SATA controller isn't exactly great
  • Northbridge is in the way of installing some CPU coolers

Rating

8/10

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