iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 Motherboard

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  • 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-load mode (with text editor running) and in the heavy-load mode (FarCry 2, high quality, 1280x720). Processor's standard power-saving features are enabled. 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 to DDR3-1333
HT bus frequency (multiplier) -  
CPU reference frequency + 100 MHz to 120 MHz
CPU multiplier -  
Graphics core frequency + 300 MHz to 2000 MHz
CPU voltage + -0.600V to +0.600V
Memory voltage + 1.20V to 2.10V
Chipset voltage + 1.10V to 1.22V

We used BIOS F2C released on 2011/03/15. Traditionally for Gigabyte motherboards, the complete list of BIOS settings can be accessed by pressing Ctrl+F1 in the main menu. But those related to overclocking are visible by default.

Overclocking by means of CPU reference frequency was hardly great. Even a 110-megahertz increase could only be achieved after boosting CPU voltage by 0.1V. People are unlikely to mess with CPU voltage for another 10% of performance. All the more so because such a boost is hardly noticeable in real tasks.

In turn, graphics core overclocking was much better: from the standard 500 MHz to 1000 MHz without adjusting voltages. The processor worked stable in games, too. Sadly, any real gains were only noticeable in very old titles which didn't load the processor part much. And, of course, in synthetic tests like 3DMark. Games we use as benchmarks showed negligible difference.

What reduced load on the processor considerably was enabled DXVA in video decoding tests. But in that case overclocking was unnecessary, because video played smoothly at the standard clock rate. Even high-bitrate videos loaded the processor by only up to one third.

Performance and efficiency

We compared motherboard under review with MSI E350IA-E45 based on the same chipset.

AMD Radeon HD 4850 MSI E350IA-E45 Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 5:41 5:43
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 3:08 3:08
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 81%/31% 80%/31%
Far Cry 2 (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 27 26
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 11 11

Integrated graphics MSI E350IA-E45 Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 5:42 5:45
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 3:09 3:09
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 81%/16% 81%/16%
Crysis (Low @ 1024x768), fps 32 31
World in Conflict (Low @ 1680x1050), fps 23 24
FarCry 2 (Low @ 1280x720), fps 29 29

In the standard mode Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 demonstrates typical power consumption for this chipset.

Enclosure power consumption

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

AMD Radeon HD 4850 MSI E350IA-E45 Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 39 45
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 39 47
Far Cry 2, W 56-97 79-100

Integrated graphics MSI E350IA-E45 Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 5 8
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 5 11
Far Cry 2, W 5-15 10-16

Power circuitry on GA-E350N-USB3 is redundant enough and that has an effect on power efficiency. But actual power consumption with integrated graphics is very small just the same.

Final thoughts

Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 has good features, decent power circuitry and a quality cooler that allows you to build a nearly noiseless media center or a nettop.

Analog audio output test results are somewhat puzzling. But, subjectively, the difference is only noticeable if you compare GA-E350N-USB3 to another board. Otherwise most people will hardly feel any difference, all the more so because high-quality equipment is rarely connected to analog outputs.

Processor overclocking capabilities are interesting, because such motherboards rarely have them. But they are hardly useful just the same.

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Page 1: Introduction, design, features

Page 2: Overclocking, performance, power

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