iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI 770-C35 Motherboard

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The motherboards is based on the AMD 770 chipset (AMD 770 Northbridge and SB710 Southbridge). It features 6 x SATA2.0 ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, as well as a dual-channel PATA/133. Additional controllers include:

  • Audio (8-channel Realtek ALC888S HDA codec);
  • Gigabit Ethernet )Realtek 8111D, PCIe x1);
  • System monitoring (Fintek F71889F) supporting automatic fan rotation speed control; you can set a desired temperature to maintain (40°C to 60°C), as well as the minimal rotation speed in percent of the maximum (down to a full stop); only 4-pin coolers are supported; you can also limit system fan rotation speed to 50% or 75%.

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

Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB: +0.03, -0.27 Very good
Noise level, dB(A): -87.4 Good
Dynamic range, dB(A): 87.5 Good
THD, %: 0.0046 Very good
THD + noise, dB(A): -81.1 Good
IMD + noise, %: 0.011 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -89.0 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.013 Very good

Total score: Very good. The quality is regular for this codec and decent in general, especially in regard to distortions.



  • 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 Availability Notes
Memory timings +  
Memory frequency + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200-600 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and CPU NB
Advanced Clock Calibration + Auto, -12% to +12% for each core
CPU voltage + 0.888-1.971 V (CPU)
1.242-1.617 V (CPU NB)
Memory voltage + 1.50-2.42 V
Chipset voltage + 1.108-1.405 V (Northbridge)
1.200-1.417 V (Southbridge)
1.202-1.454 V (HT 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 v1.5 dated December 09, 2009.

The selection of overclocking options is quite nice for an inexpensive motherboard, saving of custom BIOS profiles included. "Overoverclocking" recovery works well, though slow. In about thirty seconds you'll see a corresponding message and will be taken to BIOS to adjust the settings.

CPU Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8 GHz Phenom II X4 810 2.6 GHz
CPU frequency, MHz 3700 3315
CPU reference frequency (multiplier), MHz 200 (x18.5) 255 (x13)
Core/CPU NB voltage (according to BIOS), V 1.48/1.30 1.42/1.30
CPU NB frequency (multiplier), MHz 2400 (x12) 2295 (x9)
HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz 2000 (x10) 2040 (x8)
Memory frequency, MHz DDR3-1333 DDR3-1020
Notes Increase core and CPU NB multipliers Increase reference frequency, reduce CPU NB and HT bus multipliers

The motherboard did well in overclocking an unlocked CPU, though it set no records. In turn, overclocking a regular CPU may be a backbreaker for some motherboards, this case being no exception. Whatever settings we chose, the motherboard only worked stable with the provided values, which were considerably lower than the processor could manage. It overclocks as good as its unlocked counterpart does, but it's choosy in regard to motherboards.

Performance and efficiency

We compared MSI 770-C35 with ASRock M3A770DE based on the same chipset.

Test ASRock M3A770DE MSI 770-C35
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 2:28 2:15
x264 encoding, min:sec 1:27 1:26
Crysis (High @ 1280x1024), fps 42 42
World in Conflict (Very High @ 1680x1050), fps 29 30
HDPlay (DXVA Off/On), CPU load 26%/3% 26%/3%

Enclosure power consumption

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

Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD4850 ASRock M3A770DE MSI 770-C35
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet On, W 72 (IES Off)
67 (IES On)
81 (EES Off)
81 (EES On)
Text editing, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 84 98
FarCry 2, Cool'n'Quiet Off, W 132-168 146-170

Formally, MSI 770-C35 outperformed the motherboard from ASRock. But in terms of efficiency, especially when idle, ASRock M3A770DE is the obvious leader. Though MSI 770-C35 has a special BIOS option for dynamically managing the number of active VRM phases, it has no effect whatsoever.


This motherboard can be recommended to users who upgrade rarely and have no need for the latest innovations. Upgrading, they tend to use as many older parts they already have as possible. However, there are competing motherboards out there, some with original features. For example, the aforementioned ASRock M3A770DE has Power eSATA ports, Gigabyte motherboards can recover BIOS from backups. Thus, price becomes the key in this case.

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