iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS M3N-H/HDMI Motherboard

Rare chipset and curious design.

October 2, 2008

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Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
Award BIOS 6.00PG Controlling specific functions of the platform + K8 Cool'n'Quiet
CPU Tweak
Secure Virtual Machine
AMD Live!
Memory timings -  
Memory frequency selection + Auto, 400, 533, 667, 800, 1066 (you actually specify a multiplier to the FSB frequency)
HT bus setup Auto, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600 MHz
Peripheral bus frequency control + PCI-E = 100-200 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCI IRQ manual assignment +  
FSB frequency setup + 200-600 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + from x5 at x0.5 steps
Integrated GPU frequency control -  
CPU core voltage control + 0.8000-1.6750 V at 0.0125 V steps
Memory voltage control + Auto, 1.978-2.490 V at 0.102 V steps
Chipset voltage control + Auto, 1.213-1.409 V at 0.100 V steps
HT bus voltage control + Auto, 1.309-1.525 V at 0.100 V steps

We used BIOS 0707 dated 01/07/2008, the latest at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

This BIOS version offers enough options for overclocking. What's important, the integrated GPU should not be tied to the FSB clock, lest the real overclocking potential is severely limited.


In order to evaluate motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock our testbed processor to a maximum stable level. We use all features of the motherboard in this test, including raising CPU voltage and adjusting multipliers and frequencies of system and peripheral buses, if necessary. But if, for example, reducing Hyper-Transport frequency does not improve overclocking, we leave the default multiplier. Memory is set to the standard frequency for a given memory module (multiplier correction), if a manufacturer does not publish any ways to improve memory overclocking. Otherwise, we analyze their efficiency as well. In order to evaluate stability of the overclocked system, we load Windows XP and run WinRAR performance test for 10 minutes (Tools -- Benchmark and hardware test). As overclocking potential is an individual property of a given motherboard sample to some degree, we don't set the task to determine overclocking potential to within a single MHz. In practice, we are to find out whether CPU overclocking will be limited by a motherboard as well as to evaluate its behavior in non-standard modes, including automatic restoration of a correct frequency after a failed overclocking attempt, etc.

  Clock, MHz FSB clock, MHz Core voltage (according to BIOS), V HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz
Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.0 GHz) 3000 300 1.54 1400 (x5)

We are pleased to announce that the problem of many motherboards on GeForce 8200 (minimized overclocking potential) is solved here. We just a little concerned about distinct whining of the voltage regulator in this mode. However, as its elements are not overheated, the motherboard will hardly be damaged. So this problem may disturb only some owners of low-noise configurations (and these people rarely overclock their computers).


Testbed configurations:

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+
  • Memory: 2 x Kingston KHX7200D2K2/1G (DDR2-800, 5-5-5-15)
  • Discrete graphics: Power Color Radeon HD3870, 512 MB GDDR4
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • Power supply unit: Chieftec CFT-560-A12C
  • OS: Windows XP SP2.

We decided to compare our motherboard under review with M3A-H/HDMI on AMD 780G.

Test Int. graphics Discrete graphics
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 2:41 2:39 2:41 2:39
MPEG4 (DivX) encoding, min:sec 4:36 4:36 4:36 4:35
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Low@640x480), fps 55.3 53.9 58.1 57.8
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1024x768), fps 37.8 37.7 54.9 54.8
Doom3 (Low@640x480), fps 59.3 59.9 138.4 136.4
Doom3 (High@1024x768), fps 29.4 28.4 135.1 136.6

GeForce 8300 performs almost on par with AMD 780G, if the latter does not have a video buffer and operates at nominal frequencies.


It's a very good choice, if you want a motherboard for a discrete graphics card. In this very case, all design flaws mentioned above will not be that noticeable, and other features (like FireWire) will contribute to a nice impression of this product. On the other hand, there's a lot of FireWire-equipped motherboards and very few boards based on GeForce 8300. So it's logical that if you want a motherboard based on GeForce 8300, you are, most likely, going to use its integrated graphics core. Otherwise, it makes more sense to buy a motherboard on GeForce 8200 (if integrated graphics performance is not important). It's definitely cheaper and the general line-up is wider. Or, if you want the most advanced integrated graphics, you can choose a board on AMD 780G/790GX. That core is overclockable and is initially faster in 3D and especially in HD video decoding. Besides, the strange bundle of this motherboard doesn't help to promote it.

The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.

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Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance, conclusions

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