Motherboard Guide

NVIDIA GeForce 8200 mGPU Preview

NVIDIA GeForce 8200 mGPU Preview



Palit N78S Motherboard

GeForce 8200 on the Chopping Board

The Palit N78S is one of the first GeForce 8200 motherboards to reach our labs. As expected, the board has a microATX form factor designed for entry-level systems and low noise HTPC enclosures. The board itself is very packed as Palit has included support for all onboard components here. As an AM2+ board, the N78S carries four DDR2 DIMM slots capable of up 8GB RAM. It supports DDR2-800 on older AM2 CPUs and up to DDR2-1066 if you happen to get your hands on a Phenom. Storage support is all handled natively by the MCP, and the board features all six SATA 3.0Gbps ports as well as one IDE connector. Much like all newer nForce chipsets, the GeForce 8200's SATA controller features AHCI. So, while setting up the N78S, you'll have to enable AHCI mode from the BIOS. Also, remember to make a set of the latest NVIDIA AHCI driver floppy images before beginning your OS installation.

Its audio functions are handled by the staple Realtek ALC883 HD Audio CODEC, and the Gigabit LAN MAC has been paired with a Realtek RTL8211B PHY.

The board has four expansion slots: two standard PCI slots, one PCIe x1 and one PCIe 2.0 x16 for discreet graphics support. As mentioned before, the N78S will support NVIDIA's Hybrid SLI feature using the onboard mGPU and a certified discreet graphics card (which at the moment are the GeForce 8400 GS and GeForce 8500 GT). In addition, the N78S features Palit's own Vsonic technology, which enabled automatic overclocking of the VGA card when a Palit card is used with a Palit motherboard. Actual details are kind of sketchy regarding the proper models that are supported by Vsonic on the N78S, but we can assume that it should work with Palit's range of Hybrid SLI ready GeForce graphics cards.

Graphics-wise, we'll be looking at benchmarking and performance numbers real soon to see how the low-cost DX10 part fares. What we wanted to comment on however, is the lack of HDMI connectivity on the N78S motherboard. Looking at where the strength of the chipset lies, we had expected that all GeForce 8200 boards would be targeted at the High Definition media center crowd, but it seems that there are still board manufacturers going for a more general configuration. Another note on the graphics output connectivity is that the GeForce 8200 still only supports one display option at a time - either via VGA output or DVI/HDMI output. This perhaps is one of the more thorny limitations as it's quite common in various circumstances to have two displays simultaneously either on a permanent or temporary basis. So watch out for this caveat.