iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS M3N78-EMH HDMI Motherboard on NVIDIA GeForce 8200 Chipset (Socket AM2+)

A basic implementation of chipset features on a microATX board.

June 13, 2008

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Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the Realtek ALC883 HDA codec, 7.1-ch audio, front line-ins/outs, CD-In, and S/PDIF-Out jacks
  • Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps based on the chipset MAC adapter and Atheros Attansic F1 PHY controller

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.17, -0.17 Very good
Noise level, dB (A): -92.1 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 92.3 Very good
THD, %: 0.013 Good
THD + Noise, %: -75.1 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.015 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.9 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.015 Very good

General performance: Very good. Features of this popular Realtek codec are implemented on a good level.

Proprietary technologies and peculiarities

  • EZ Flash 2 and CrashFree BIOS 3 - flashing BIOS using a built-in utility (it allows to read BIOS image from a floppy, flash drive, or compact disc, and to restore BIOS automatically from the above listed media after an unsuccessful flash attempt


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
PS2_USBPW and 2 x USBPW Wake on PS2 and USB
HDJ1 HDMI/DVI choice
AMIBIOS 2.61 Controlling specific functions of the platform + K8 Cool'n'Quiet
Secure Virtual Machine
Memory timings + 1T/2T Memory Timing, CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, Row Precharge Time, Min RAS Active Time, Row to Row Delay, Row Cycle Time, as well as a wide choice of additional timings
Memory frequency selection + 400, 533, 667, 800, 1066 (you actually specify a divider to the frequency of the memory controller)
HT bus setup + Auto, 200-2600 MHz at 200 MHz steps
Peripheral bus frequency control + PCI-E = 100-150 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCI IRQ manual assignment +  
FSB frequency setup + 200-300 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + from x8 at x0.5 steps
CPU core voltage control + 1.400, 1.425, 1.450 V
Memory voltage control + 1.90-2.25 V at 0.05 V steps
Chipset voltage control -  
HT bus voltage control -  

We used BIOS 0404 dated 07/04/2008, the latest release 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.

Quite an acceptable choice of settings for a motherboard, which is not designed for overclockers. Perhaps, it makes no sense to add more options in this case, because most tweaks in such motherboards (frankly speaking, the same concerns expensive products as well) are not used at all. A wide range of frequencies and voltages cannot be implemented, because components of inexpensive motherboards do not allow overclocking. However, they could have placed all overclocking options in one or two sections instead of scattering them across all sections in the most illogical way.

Unlike AMD 780G, developers did not find the graphics core in this NVIDIA chipset an interesting object for overclocking, so it's impossible to raise its frequency.


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 system monitoring in BIOS), V HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz
Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.0 GHz) 2200 220 1.40 1100 (x5)

This motherboard can be overclocked, but only if you install a graphics card (quite usual results - 2800 MHz). However, we test motherboards with integrated graphics in the overclocked mode, when their graphics core is enabled. As to all appearances GeForce 8200 itself cannot boast of a good overclocking potential, and separate clocking is not available, the result is predictably low.

The motherboard can reboot with default settings after a failed overclocking attempt. But it may fail to detect such situations from time to time, so you may have to reset BIOS with a jumper.


Testbed configurations:

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+
  • Memory: 2 x Kingston KHX7200D2K2/1G (DDR2-800, 5-5-5-15)
  • Discrete video: ATI Radeon X1900 XTX, 512 MB GDDR3
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • PSU: Chieftec CFT-560-A12C
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

We compared our motherboard under review with Palit N78S on the same chipset.

Test Integrated graphics Discrete graphics
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 2:34 2:39 2:31 2:39
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 6:05 6:07 6:00 6:03
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium@800x600), fps 46.4 45.1 57.5 57.2
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1024x768), fps 35.8 35.7 57.4 57.3
FarCry (Medium@800x600), fps 64.1 61.0 131.3 131.0
FarCry (High@1024x768), fps 42.5 41.6 132.5 131.6
DOOM III (Medium@800x600), fps 41.5 40.0 139.3 136.8
DOOM III (High@1024x768), fps 27.3 26.2 137.9 135.5

We've got unexpected results: Palit engineers (who most likely just copied the reference BIOS code, because we found no interesting features in BIOS) created a product, which outperforms the ASUS model. This difference is noticeable only in some sensitive computing tests, but it exists.

Bottom line

On the whole, this motherboard produces a positive impression. If you don't need peripheral excesses, unpretending functionality is a plus - as a rule, BIOS in such motherboards initially contains minimum bugs (however, developers should adjust automatic timings to make the motherboard work faster). We should mention the good layout, the excellent heat sink on the chipset, and the full set of video outputs. What concerns drawbacks of this motherboard, we can mention high fan speed in Q-Fan mode (so you cannot assemble a silent computer without an additional adapter) and the noisy voltage regulator (because of open coils.) Besides, fair prices for GeForce 8200 motherboards must be lower than those for equally-rigged AMD 780G products, considering differences in chipset performance.

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