Testing Methodology and System Setup – Lots to look for
There were lots of angles from which to approach this review.  First, since this is a completely new chipset we needed to test the overall performance of it and the ASUS M3N-HT Deluxe motherboard for the performance of the processor, memory, SATA, USB and other subsystems.  We’ll do that first.  Then of course, we have to address the performance of the integrated GF8200 graphics core on the chipset and compare it to the current AMD 780G platform to find which offered the best base-level graphics performance for an integrated product.  We’ll do that second. 

The issues of Hybrid SLI are the next target where we needed to test two aspects: possible performance degradation and possible power savings.  By performance degradation I am referring to any potential performance hits you would receive by utilizing the discrete-to-integrated GPU pass through method which the Hybrid Power savings require.  For that I compared the performance of a single 9800 GTX with the monitor connected directly to the 9800 GTX card and with Hybrid SLI disabled in the BIOS to the performance of that same single 9800 GTX when passing the frame buffer through the integrated graphics core and to the monitor connected to it. 

The other Hybrid technology I tested today was on the power savings front: how much power do you actually save when disabling the discrete graphics cards while not in gaming mode?  And is the process of switching between modes complicated or problematic?  For that I tested idle and load power consumptions of single and dual 9800 GTX setups displaying output through both the discrete cards and integrated mGPU. 

ASUS M3N-HT Deluxe Review - nForce 780a SLI for Phenom Arrives - Motherboards 84

For the platform tests we’ll be comparing the new ASUS 780a motherboard to the MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard based on the AMD 790FX chipset. 

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For Hybrid SLI and integrated graphics testing we’ll be comparing the new NVIDIA chipset to its main rival, the AMD 780G chipset courtesy of Gigabyte. 

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