Sapphire PURE CrossFireX 770 AMD AM2+ Motherboard

Posted by on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 6:40am

overviewOur first Sapphire motherboard featured on Pro-Clockers isn’t the high end model just mentioned, but rather one notch lower on the model scale. The AM2RX780 PURE CrossFireX 770 is based on the AMD 770+ chipset which is aimed at the AM2 and the soon to be released AM2+ processors. One of the best features of the CrossFireX is dual X16 PCI-e slots on this well priced motherboard. There are a few more bells and whistles this board has to offer and you can discover those yourself by reading this review.

 

Introduction

Sapphire has graced us with some of the best ATI based video cards around. Due to what they are doing with video cards, people have forgotten that Sapphire puts out a good product line of motherboards as well. Most traditional Sapphire motherboards have been based on ATI chipsets following the path of the GPU. What I like about a lot of their main boards is their visual appearance. Sapphire didn’t use a black, blue or plain beige PCB, as you’d see on most motherboards, but rather went unique with white on their higher end boards. And this made them stand out far beyond the long list of competitors on the market.

Our first Sapphire motherboard featured on Pro-Clockers isn’t the high end model just mentioned, but rather one notch lower on the model scale. The AM2RX780 PURE CrossFireX 770 is based on the AMD 770+ chipset which is aimed at the AM2 and the soon to be released AM2+ processors. One of the best features of the CrossFireX is dual X16 PCI-e slots on this well priced motherboard. There are a few more bells and whistles this board has to offer and you can discover those yourself by reading this review.

Sapphire on the PURE

The Sapphire PURE CrossFireX 770 is designed for AMD Phenom™ true quad-core processors and next generation graphics. Performance, scalability, and personalization are coupled with an innovative and efficient design incorporating new technologies. The Sapphire PURE CrossFireX 770 is designed for PC enthusiasts, high-performance gamers, and professional overclockers**. Get the power of dual graphics behind you to experience the ultimate in dualraphonic gaming. Loaded with next generation technologies like PCI Express® 2.0 and Hyper Transport™ 3.0 technology, you get the ammo you need in gaming, HD editing, and high resolution video to lead the pack, not follow it. Build your dream PC. Start with a Sapphire PURE CrossFireX 770 motherboard!


 

Packaging

I was impressed with the Sapphire 770x from the start. Simply put, the packaging it arrived in left a good first impression. So often when a company makes a lower end motherboard (790FX being the high end), the packaging is usually weak and unappealing. But this is not the case with the 770X. The black and green box is very attractive and appealing. The only gripe is that there is very little as far as images are concerned on the front of the box.

Specifications

·  Chipset: AMD® 770 + SB600
·  Processor: Support AMD® AM2/AM2+ CPU
·  ATI CrossFireX Technology
·  PCI-E® 2.0 and HT™ 3.0 technology
·  Exceptional Power Efficiency Design
·  DDRII DIMM up to 16GB 1066MHz Dual Channel
·  Gigabit LAN + 8CH HD Audio
·  2 PCI-E X16 + 2PCI-E X1 + 2 PCI
·  High-End components used and Design

Features

Chipset: AMD® 770 + SB600
Processor: Support AMD® AM2/AM2+ CPU
ATI CrossFireX Technology
PCI-E® 2.0 and HT™ 3.0 technology
Exceptional Power Efficiency Design
DDRII DIMM up to 16GB 1066MHz Dual Channel
Gigabit LAN + 8CH HD Audio
2 PCI-E X16 + 2PCI-E X1 + 2 PCI
High-End components used and Design


 

Closer look

I was disappointed to see this board didn’t have the color scheme of the other Sapphire boards we have admired over the past couple of years. But it does remind us of an ASUS mainboard which is known to be a top notch board as well. At least we do get a black PCB with components that are well placed.

The space around the CPU socket is a little clustered, meaning one should not use memory with tall heat sinks combined with a CPU that overlaps the edges of the plastic heat sink bracket. This is a rare case so I don’t see it interfering with the most potential users of this motherboard.

Sapphire does use several colors to make up the motherboard. Thankfully, they really don’t clash like we have seen on some boards. Evidence of such color usage is present with the DIMM slots. To differentiate the dual slots, Sapphire uses blue and yellow. The lone IDE controller and ATX power connector are located on the edge of the motherboard as you would expect.

To keep noise under control, passive heat sinks are used to cool the different bridges and resistors.

On a budget and still want to run a crossfire setup? Then here is your chance. The AM2RX780 has two full bandwidth 16X PCI-e slots. Sapphire makes cards like the Toxic line that uses a single slot cooler. But if you are a fan of other GPU manufacturers, the AM2RX780 has a ton of space between the two slots.

The SATA, single floppy drive connector and headers are located at the edge of the board. It seems that Sapphire listened to the consumers when it came to this board, given the complains about the placement of these particulars on some past models.

When it comes to the I/O panel on the motherboard, everything is pretty much in order. Multi-port audio connections are available including two optical ports.


 

BIOS

The BIOS gives you some pretty decent areas in which to tweak the board and processor.

HT Link Frequency: Auto, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000MHz
CPU/HT Frequency: 190-600MHz
PCI Frequency: 90-250MHz
SB Reference: 90-150
CPU ratio: 6 to CPU default
CPU voltage: Default to 1.550
DRAM voltage: default- 2.55
NB voltage: default- 1.20v
System Memory Frequency: 400, 533, 667, 800


 

Testing

Testing Hardware:
Intel Core2Duo E8400
DDR2 Crucial Ballistix PC6400 (4-4-4-12)
Maxtor 100GB SATAI
Leadtek 6800GT
Thermalright Ultra 120
Thermaltake TP1000

Testing Software:
Futuremark PCMark05
Futuremark 3DMark06
SiSoftware Sandra
Everest Ultimate
SuperPi 1.5 mod
Prey
F.E.A.R.

Competition:
Asrock A780FullDisportPlay
Asrock A780FullDisportPlay with Sapphire HD 3650
ECS A770-M

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Results

CPU results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0
PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

Super PI Modded 1.5
In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi in collaboration with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center. This record should be the current world record. (Details are shown in the windows help.) This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95. In order to calculate 33.55 million digits, it takes within 3 days with Pentium 90 MHz, 40 MB main memory and 340 MB available storage.

Ram results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0
PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2007 SP1
SiSoftware has announced the availability of Service Release 2 (SR2) for SiSoftware Sandra 2005, the latest version of its award-winning utility. The focus of this service release has been improved support, compatibility and reliability rather than new features. We have been working closely with more hardware vendors than before to be able to bring greater direct support of an increased market share of commodity and server technologies.

Lavalys Everest
Lavalys EVEREST Home Edition is freeware system information, system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for home PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. It offers the world's most accurate system information and diagnostics capabilities, including online features, memory benchmarks, hardware monitoring, and low-level hardware information. EVEREST Home Edition is uniquely available for home users without any charges, based on the freeware license.


 

HDD results

Futuremark PCmark05 Build 1.1.0
PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses.

Simpli Software HD Tach 3
HD Tach will test the sequential read, random access and interface burst speeds of your attached storage device (hard drive, flash drive, removable drive, etc). All drive technologies such as SCSI, IDE/ATA, 1394, USB, SATA and RAID are supported. Test results from HD Tach can be used to confirm manufacturer specs, analyze your system for proper performance, and compare your performance with others. HD Tach is very easy to use, quick, and presents data in easy to read graphs, including the ability to compare two storage devices on screen at the same time for easy analysis.

Video and Gaming results

Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.0.2
3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. Futuremark's exclusive Online ResultBrowser web service tracks and compares 3DMark06 scores.

Sierra F.E.A.R. Update 1.08

F.E.A.R. ™ (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror… and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.

3drealms Prey

PREY takes full advantage of the Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ sound card. PREY supports OpenAL hardware acceleration, EAX® ADVANCED HD™ 5.0 features of 4 reverberation effects at once, and uses Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ XRAM feature to load audio samples on the cards with 64 megs of RAM.

Power Consumption

The power consumption was measured using a Watts Up Pro meter. The system was allow to sit idle for one half hour and the lowest measurement was used for this comparsion. Afterwards, we ran 3DMark06 in a loop of three runs and then took the highest measurement.

Overclocking

Overclocking the Sapphire was not that bad of an experience. I had forgotten how easy it is to overclock an AMD processor. We first lowered the HT link to 600 MHz, upped the voltage on the CPU and ram to 1.40 and 2.00 volts respectively. We dropped the CPU multiplier to 5 for some kicks. And then, lastly, we relaxed the ram timings to 5-5-5-18 to eliminate any of these components from being a factor in the overclocking process.

When it was all said and done, we managed to get the FSB up to 355MHz. Anything beyond that resulted in ill stability or no boot. Not too bad from this new Sapphire board.


 

Conclusion

For being on the lower end of the models offered from Sapphire and AMD, the CrossfireX motherboard and AMD 770 chipset did pretty well. The performance numbers were better than that of the ECS A770-M model. And as much as we were impressed with the performance, we were just as impressed with its layout and BIOS. So often manufacturers leave out many features and advantages due to the fact they are offering higher model boards. Sapphire did this to an extent with the 790FX for those that want it all, however they still managed to apply the proper focus to this model. The 770 CrossfireX has a beautiful layout and many options in the BIOS to get a decent overclock.

There is honestly not much you can find negative about this quality motherboard. That is unless you are one of those individuals that want extreme numbers from the overclocking. Or, of course, if you are looking for a quad Crossfire design. And if you are one of these select individuals, you shouldn’t be looking at a board in the sub-$100 price range.
We would like to thank Sapphire for shipping us their solid product, the Sapphire AM2RX780.

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