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ASRock M3A785GXH/128M Motherboard

A full-size ATX board supporting symmetric CrossFire configurations.

January 22, 2010



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Overclocking

Testbeds:

  • CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 810
  • RAM: 2 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333 CL9 9-9-9-24-1T for Socket AM3 boards; 2 x 2GB GoodRAM PRO DDR2-1066 CL5 5-5-5-15-2T for Socket AM2+ boards
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI RADEON HD4850, 512 MB GDDR3
  • PSU: AcBel ATX-550CA-AB8FB
  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit, Catalyst 9.2, latest chipset drivers

Benchmarks:

  • 7-Zip 4.65 x64
  • WinRAR 3.80
  • XviD 1.2.1
  • x264 r1129 x64
  • FarCry 2 (Ranch Medium)
  • Crysis (DX10, HOCbenchmark, VGA test, built-in demo)
  • Devil May Cry 4 (built-in benchmark)
  • World in Conlict (built-in benchmark)

To assess performance we measure time required to archive a 297MB set of 277 files of various types and convert a 636MB MPEG2 video using XviD and x264. We also measure frames per second in game demos. In FarCry 2 we run tests in 4 modes: low, medium, high and very high quality. The first three modes imply the aforesaid quality level, 1280x720 resolution, DX9 rendering, High Performance. The last mode implies: 1680x1050 resolution, Very High setting for both graphics and system, DX10 rendering. In Crysis we also use 4 modes at 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and run tests at Low and High quality in each mode. In Devil May Cry 4 we run two tests: 1280x720 (High DX9) and 1680x1050 (Super High DX10). In World in Conlict we run test in 4 modes: 1280x720 Low, 1280x720 Medium, 1680x1050 High, 1680x1050 Very High.

It's obvious which modes should be used with integrated graphics and which, with discrete graphics. Note that if a motherboard has no integrated graphics, performance tests are only used to check for serious layout or BIOS flaws and can be reduced to minimum. Vice versa, performance tests are indicative for motherboards with integrated graphics. And if a certain motherboard review lacks certain details, we might add respective test results to make up for it.

To assess capabilities of a motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock test CPUs (which ones depends on board's market segment) to a stable maximum with the help of Zalman CNPS9700 AM2 and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers. At that we use all motherboard features, like CPU core voltage adjustments and, if needed, bus multiplier and clock adjustments (Hyper-Transport, CPU NB, etc.) For RAM we select a clock rate typical for this class of modules by adjusting its multiplier, or clock rate needed to maximize CPU core clock rate. The stability of an overclocked machine is assessed in Windows Vista with the help of AMD OverDrive stability test (all tests are run for 5 minutes). Note that since overclocking potential somewhat varies from one board to another, we are not focused on finding board's exact overclocking potential accurate to 1MHz. We just try to find out if a board hampers in CPU overclocking (due to insufficient voltage stabilizer power, etc.) and see how it performs in atypical modes, including automatic BIOS recovery in cases of overclocking issues (not requiring CMOS reset) and such.

Power consumption is assessed in the light mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). At that we enable processor's standard power-saving features. Also, if a board has proprietary power-saving features, we examine their efficiency separately.


BIOS overclocking settings Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 150-500 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Advanced Clock Calibration + Auto, -12% to +12% for each core
CPU voltage + 0.6000-1.6125 V (CPU)
0.6000-1.6125 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + 1.48-2.40 V
Graphics core frequency + 350-2000 MHz
Graphics core voltage + 1.09-1.79 V
Video buffer frequency + DDR3-533 to DDR3-1700
Video buffer voltage + 1.5-1.8 V

The BIOS adjustment ranges of the CPU multiplier and voltage, as well as the HT bus, depend on the given processor. We publish results for our Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS 1.7 dated 03/12/2009.

All overclocking options are neatly provided in a single section, along with the resulting frequency values to be set for the chosen combination of reference frequencies and multipliers. You can load overclocking presets based on desired core clock rate. Note that presets look reasonal enough. For example, the system will try to overclock an unlocked CPU exactly by means of the multiplier. If it's a regular CPU, the system will adjust bus and memory multipliers along with the reference frequency. When it comes to voltages, the numbers are chosen with a bit of surplus, because the machine cannot consider the peculiarities of every specific CPU. It's interesting that there are some graphics core overclocking settings as well. Only graphics core frequency and voltage can be adjusted, so you can assess the voltage required for stable operation at a specific clock rate. It's nice that all of these presets can be corrected manually after you've loaded them.

If you push the board too far, so it locks up on reboot, you will mostly likely have to reset the settings manually by means of a jumper. However, this shouldn't bother you, as you can keep up to 4 custom profiles.


CPU Phenom II X3 720, 2.8 GHz Phenom II X4 810, 2.6 GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 3700 3705
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x18.5) 285 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.48/1.30 1.47/1.30
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2600 (x13) 2565 (x9)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 1995 (x7)
Memory frequency, MHz DDR3-1333 DDR3-1140
Notes Increased core and CPU NB multipliers Increased reference frequency, reduced CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

The board did a good job overclocking by means of both multipliers and reference frequency.

Performance and efficiency

We compared the reviewed motherboard with the Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H (same chipset, full-size ATX, no video buffer though).


Radeon HD4850 ASRock M3A785GXH/128M Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:24 2:17
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:17 1:14
HDPlay (DXVA OFF/ON), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
Crysis (High@1280x1024) 41 41
World in Conflict (Very High@1680x1050), fps 29 29

Int. graphics ASRock M3A785GXH/128M Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:26 2:18
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:17 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA OFF/ON), CPU load 30%/3% 41%/10%
Crysis (Low@1280x1024), fps 28 27
World in Conflict (Low@1680x1050), fps 25 23
FarCry 2 (Low@1280x720), fps 28.2 28.0

Note the slight advantage of the Gigabyte's board in computation tests and a logical advantage of the ASRock's solution in the video decoding test. The latter is natural for all boards equipped with a video buffer (in the integrated graphics tests, of course).

Enclosure power consumption

We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.


Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD4850 ASRock M3A785GXH/128M Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 84 76
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 96 89
FarCry 2, W 149-177 156-201

Phenom II X4 810 + int. graphics ASRock M3A785GXH/128M Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 30 26
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 45 43
FarCry 2, W 65-82 59-85

Enabling power-saving features in ASRock's IES utility had no effect whatsoever. Most likely, the stabilizer on this affordable board has no circuitry to adjust the number of active phases dynamically. As there's none of that on the Gigabyte's board either. ASRock's motherboard turned out to be more power-efficient under load, while the Gigabyte's solution did better in the idle mode.

Conclusions

The board earns good marks for having all the necessary interfaces, even the symmetrical CrossFire, as well as the complete set of BIOS overclocking settings, and, more importantly, the high-quality technical implementation of all of the above. One minor disadvantage is that in some cases a regular SATA cable may be too short to reach the eSATA port.

Check the price of this board at Newegg, Amazon.

The motherboard was provided by the manufacturer.


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Page 1: Introduction, design, features

Page 2: O/c, performance, power consumption



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