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Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 Motherboard

Support for legacy peripherals plus USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps.

June 30, 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 ~ DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200MHz ~ 500MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Advanced Clock Calibration + Auto, -12% ~ +12% for each core
CPU voltage + -0.600V ~ +0.600V (CPU)
-0.600V ~ +0.600V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + 1.5V ~ 2.4V, 0.75V ~ 1.20V (DRAM VTT)
Chipset voltage + 1.1V ~ 1.8V (Northbridge)
1.8V ~ 2.2V (PCIe bus)

The BIOS adjustment ranges of CPU voltage, as well as some other parameters, depend on the given processor. We publish the results of our AMD Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS F2.

Traditionally for Gigabyte, the complete list of options can be opened by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the BIOS main menu. However, overclocking options, voltages included, are not hidden by default. Hidden are parameters you would use rarely.

The options are conveniently grouped into one section. The indication of current frequencies and voltages is handy. Emergency BIOS reset works fine.


CPU Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz Phenom II X4 810 2.6 GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 3800 3835
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x19) 295 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.475/1.30 1.49/1.35
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2400 (x12) 2360 (x8)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2065 (x7)
Memory frequency, MHz DDR3-1333 DDR3-1180
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

Both multiplier and reference frequency results are excellent. But this doesn't mean that GA-770TA-UD3 equals top-class motherboards. For example, we hardly overclocked AMD Phenom II X4 965 up to 3.9GHz. And we had a C3 revision that easily achieved 4.1GHz ~ 4.2GHz on top-class motherboards. MOSFETs grew quite hot, so the lack of heatsink could be the limiting factor.

Performance and efficiency

We compared Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 with ASRock M3A770DE based on the same chipset.


  ASRock M3A770DE Gigabyte 770TA-UD3
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:28 2:21
x264 encoding, min:sec 1:27 1:17
Crysis (High @ 1280x1024), fps 42 45
FarCry 2 (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 62 62
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 29 29

Despite the long life cycle of the AMD 770 chipset and the seemingly perfected BIOS, Gigabyte managed to speed things up a little bit.

Enclosure power consumption

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


AMD Phenom II X4 810 + ATI Radeon HD 4850 ASRock M3A770DE Gigabyte 770TA-UD3
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 72 (IES Off)
67 (IES On)
72
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 84 89
Far Cry 2, W 132-168 137-190

In due time, Gigabyte was the first to use hardware circuitry for dynamic VRM phase control. But it was mostly found in expensive products, and the company didn't spread it to value products. Therefore you have a choice: get a motherboard with full-fledged power circuitry but no dynamic phase control, or one with simpler circuitry, a bit higher power efficiency and, on certain occasions, with dynamic phase control. If the former approach sounds better -- say, you're building a gaming or an all-purpose machine -- a Gigabyte motherboard may come in handy. If you're focused on power saving, it will be more reasonable to consider motherboards from ASRock or ECS -- the most power-efficienct according to our tests. But in this case models with integrated graphics core would be a better choice.

Conclusions

Motherboards like GA-770TA-UD3 show that company's technical marketing department earns its salt. Today's model is clearly designed for gradual upgrade, for users who want to continue using peripherals they already have and be able to use new devices as well. This requires both legacy and up-to-date interfaces, and it seems Gigabyte has done a good job meeting these requirements.


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