- 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
- 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
||DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
|HT bus frequency (multiplier)
|CPU reference frequency
||Cores and CPU NB
|Advanced Clock Calibration
||Auto, -12% to +12% for each core
||-0.600 to +0.600 V (CPU and CPU NB)
||0.92-1.40 V (CPU NB)
0.94-1.50 V (CPU SB and HT bus)
1.45-2.10 V (PCIe bus)
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 F2.
Traditionally for Gigabyte motherboards, the complete settings are invoked by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the main menu. The often used overclocking settings, including voltage adjustments, are shown by default, while those which are used rarely are hidden.
The comprehensive overclocking settings, typical for Gigabyte's high-end motherboards, are neatly provided in one section. You can see the current values of clock rates and voltages you're adjusting. This is convenient, if you want to overclock the Northbridge or the HT bus, but don't remember which value is the standard. The automatic correction works all right, selecting CPU NB and HT multipliers so that the resulting clock rates are equal or a bit lower than the standard.
You can't save any custom profiles, which is strange for such a motherboard. Certain manufacturers provide at least a couple of profile slots even in the most inexpensive motherboards. On the other hand, the default settings recovery never failed us.
||Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz
||Phenom II X4 810 2.6 GHz
|CPU frequency, MHz
|CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz
|Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V
|CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz
|HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz
|Memory frequency, MHz
||Increased core and CPU NB multipliers
||Increased reference frequency, reduced CPU NB and HT bus multipliers
The motherboard did well in overclocking the unlocked-multiplier CPU. But overclocking the regular processor yielded results too humble for a motherboard with such solid circuitry. And even then we had to try a number of multipliers. For example, with the more reasonable HT bus multipler of x7 the motherboard could only work at the reference frequencies of up to 250 MHz. As it happens with Gigabyte's products, newer firmware might provide better results. This is not so good, because most reviews and tests are usually done with the first BIOS versions, soon after the product rollout. For this reason, enthusiasts might have a lower opinion of Gigabyte motherboards in general.
Performance and efficiency
We compared Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 with the lower-end GA-MA790XT-UD4P on the same chipset.
|Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec
|x264 encoding, min:sec
|Crysis (High @ 1280x1024), fps
|World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps
|HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load
Enclosure power consumption
We measured power consumption with the wattmeter built into the PSU.
|Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD4850
|Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W
||98 (EES Off)
98 (EES On)
|86 (EES Off)
74 (EES On)
|Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W
|FarCry 2, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W
For some reason, enabling/disabling the power saving feature in Easy Energy Saver had no effect on power consumption whatsoever. Besides, enabling Cool'n'Quiet had a much smaller effect than usual, though the processor correctly reduced its clock rate and voltage. This is also strange, because the newer motherboard consumed a bit less power under load. Are there newer BIOS versions in order?
The support for the new interfaces will be attractive for those who upgrade rarely. The Socket AM3 platform is a good choice for rare upgrades, by the way, because there will be at least one more processor family for it that will include hexacore solutions. But certainly you should consider prices as well. There may be little sense in paying too much for the interfaces you won't need in the near future. Neither SATA 2.0 nor USB 2.0 can be that much of a bottleneck these days.
The motherboard was provided by the manufacturer.
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