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ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Motherboard

A good full-size solution.

December 16, 2009



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Features



The motherboard is based on the AMD 785G chipset (AMD 785G Northbridge + SB710 Southbridge). It supports only Socket AM3 processors, and up to 16 GB of DDR3-1066/1333/1600 memory. There are five internal SATA/300 ports (drives connected to these ports can form RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5), the sixth chipset-based port is used on the rear panel for eSATA connections. Just like all motherboards with modern chipsets for the AMD platform, this model has a single chipset-based IDE channel supporting two PATA/133 drives. Chipset functionality is supplemented with the following controllers:

  • Integrated audio (8-channel HDA codec VIA VT1708S), optical S/PDIF output on the rear panel.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8112L, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps, supporting AI Net 2.
  • FireWire (VIA VT6308P, PCI), supporting two IEEE 1394a 100/200/400 Mbps ports (one on the rear panel and one on the bracket).
  • System monitoring (ITE IT8712F-S), BIOS allows automatic CPU fan speed control, you can choose starting voltage (4-6 V) which can be maintained after startup, when the low threshold temperature is reached. Besides, a user can specify an upper threshold, when a fan will speed up to maximum. Speed control is available for 4-pin fans only. This motherboard is more advanced, as it allows for flexible manual control over automatic procedures (ASUS motherboards used to have three presets only). On the other hand, owners of the good old 3-pin coolers may not like this.

We assessed the analog output quality of the integrated audio system in the 16-bit/44kHz mode with RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.3 and the ESI Juli@ sound card.


Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB: +0.05, -0.06 Excellent
Noise level, dB(A): -81.2 Good
Dynamic range, dB(A): 81.2 Good
THD, %: 0.011 Good
THD + noise, dB(A): -73.2 Average
IMD + noise, %: 0.025 Good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -81.7 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.027 Good

General performance: Good. A typical result for this codec. Subjectively, the audio quality is on a par with Realtek RTL888, etc. There's only one strange issue related to many motherboards with this codec: the drivers available on the official ASUS website have nothing to do with this codec, so you will have to go to VIA's website. This will do you good, actually, as you'll get the latest version (even for a Realtek codec).

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 o/c settings Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
Reference CPU frequency + 200-550 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores, CPU NB
Integrated graphics core frequency + 150-2000 MHz
Advanced Clock Calibration mode + Auto, -12% to +12% (each core), Unleashing Mode
Video buffer frequency + DDR3-1333 to DDR3-2000
CPU voltage + 1.00-1.70 V (CPU), 0.90-1.55 V (CPU NB), 2.5-2.8 V (CPU VDDA)
Memory voltage + 1.50-2.31 V
Chipset voltage + 1.10-1.61 V (Northbridge), 1.20-1.35 V (HT bus), 1.50-1.70 V (video buffer)

The adjustment ranges of CPU multiplier and voltage, as well as HT bus in BIOS, depend on the given processor. We publish results for our Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS 0510 dated 22/10/2009.

We have all necessary settings, and the memory voltage adjustment range looks even risky wide for an inexpensive motherboard designed for non-overclockers. However, BIOS marks dangerous values with red color, while real values are lower by 0.2-0.4 V. Automatic BIOS settings reset worked correctly after failed overclocking attempts.


CPU CPU Clock, MHz Reference clock (multiplier), MHz Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz Memory frequency, MHz Notes
Phenom II X3 720 (2.8 GHz) 3700 200 (x18.5) 1.44/1.30 2600 (x13) 2000 (x10) DDR3-1333 Increased multipliers (CPU cores, NB)
Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 GHz) 3770 290 (x13) 1.44/1.30 2610 (x9) 2030 (x7) DDR3-1160 Increased reference clock and reduced CPU NB/HT multipliers

Average results: on one hand, we expected more, considering the imposing power supply system; on the other hand, this motherboard is not designed for hardcore overclockers. What concerns moderate overclocking, this model offers everything necessary and even more.

Performance and power saving

We decided to compare our model under review with the previously tested motherboard Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H with the same chipset, full-size, but no video buffer.


RADEON HD4850 ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:15 2:17
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:14
HDPlay (DXVA OFF/ON), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%
Crysis (High@1280x1024) 42 41
World in Conflict (Very High@1680x1050), fps 30 29

Integrated graphics ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:21 2:18
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:15
HDPlay (DXVA OFF/ON), CPU load 29%/3% 41%/10%
Crysis (Low@1024x768), fps 28 27
World in Conflict (Low@1680x1050), fps 25 23
FarCry 2 (Low@1280x720), fps 28.7 28.0

Again, the most interesting result is demonstrated by the recently added HD video playback test. Apparently, it's the built-in video buffer that helps the motherboard improve its results.


Phenom II X4 810 + RADEON HD4850 ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet ON) 81 76
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) 84 89
Playing FarCry 2, W 161-185 156-201


Phenom II X4 810 + int. graphics ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet ON) 25 26
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) 42 43
Playing FarCry 2, W 55-90 59-85

Conclusions

This motherboard produces a good impression, both on the whole and in detail, even though it does not have noteworthy highlights. It offers all modern peripheral interfaces, including eSATA and FireWire, as well as a full set of video outputs. Users looking for Socket AM3 motherboards with integrated 780/790GX chipsets have a wide choice of well-rigged models for all-purpose home configurations, this board included. It's no secret that ASUS motherboards used to have problems with BIOS bugs, especially new models. We paid a lot of attention to this issue and must say that the current version provides stable operation and compatibility with various memory kits even when overclocked. We found no irritating trifles either.

ATI RADEON HD4850 provided by HIS, DDR3-1333 memory modules provided by Apacer.


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