Other quirks are the location of the CD-In connector which will be blocked by a double slot graphics card and then we have the SATA connectors. Also, the GeForce 8300 chipset supports six SATA connectors with RAID, however if you use the SATA connectors in IDE mode i.e. without RAID you are obliged to connect your drives to SATA ports 1-4. Ports 5 and 6 are located next to the memory slots where they have plenty of space but ports 1 and 3 are smack bang in line with the PCI Express graphics slot where they will be blocked by even a modest graphics card such as a GeForce 8800GT. This is especially strange as Asus has laid down the IDE connector to feed the cable away from the expansion cards yet that connector is in line with the PCI slots and is unlikely to cause any trouble.
According to Asus the M3N78 Pro has native support for 1,066MHz memory instead of the usual situation where memory runs at a JEDEC 800MHz until you raise the RAM voltage and manually adjust the speed up to 1,066MHz. The manual for the motherboard lists six pages of memory that will run at specified speeds depending on which AM2 or AM2+ processor you are using. This is because the memory controller is inside the AMD processor rather than the chipset.
The list of memory that runs natively at 1,066MHz consists of one model from Qimonda, two from G.Skill and one from Corsair which unfortunately wasn’t our preferred Corsair Dominator XMS2 PC-9136. When we disabled Cool ‘n Quiet and raised the memory speed the system refused to start Windows so we went for the easy option and left all the settings at default. This wasn’t very satisfactory but it probably reflects the way that most people would use this motherboard inside a Media Centre, say.
One feature of particular interest to the Media Centre crowd is the Q Fan Control that allows you to automatically control the speed of the CPU fan and a single chassis fan by selecting your choice of Performance, Optimal or Silent profile in the BIOS.
Other features are less thrilling such as the ability to overclock the iGPU in the BIOS. We would prefer to avoid stressing the chipset and its cooler as it would surely raise the temperature even further.
The fundamental problem with the Asus is that the GeForce 8300 chipset doesn’t deliver anything you cannot get with the AMD 780G unless you happen to be won over by Hybrid SLI with its twin technologies of GeForce Boost and HybridPower so for the time being we’ll stick with an AMD chipset to support the AMD Phenom.
The Nvidia GeForce 8300 chipset does no more than a reasonable job of supporting AMD’s Phenom and taken in combination with the poor layout of the Asus M3N78 Pro we ended this review glum and unimpressed.