iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI 785GM-E65 Motherboard

Overclockers' microATX solution.

November 2, 2009

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The motherboard is based on the AMD 785G chipset (AMD 785G Northbridge + SB710 Southbridge). It supports all Socket AM3 processors and up to 16 GB of DDR3-800/1066/1333/1600 memory. There are 5 internal SATA/300 ports (drives connected to these ports can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1), another port is used for eSATA on the rear panel. Just like all motherboards with modern chipsets for the AMD platform, this model has 1 chipset-based IDE channel supporting 2 PATA/133 drives.

The board also has the following additional controllers:

  • Integrated audio (10-channel HDA codec Realtek ALC889) supporting independent stereo sound output for audio jacks on the front panel, optical S/PDIF Out on the rear panel.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111DL, PCIEx1) 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • FireWire controller (VIA VT6315N, PCI) supporting two IEEE1394a ports (one on the rear panel, the other on a bracket).
  • System monitoring (Fintek F71889), BIOS supports automatic CPU fan speed control depending on readings of a temperature sensor. You can specify the target temperature (40-60°C) and minimal fan speed down to a complete stop. Speed control is available for 3- and 4-pin fans. BIOS also allows to set the reduced (to 50% or 75%) fixed rotational speed of the system fan.

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

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.02, -0.05 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A): -90.4 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 90.4 Very good
THD, %: 0.0085 Very good
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A): -77.7 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.012 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -89.8 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.013 Very good

General performance: Very good.

These are relatively high results, and the codec itself is one of the best from Realtek and among codecs installed on modern motherboards in general.



  • 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, 512MB 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 12801024 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 (multiplier) + DDR3-800 to DDR3-1600
HT bus frequency (multiplier) +  
CPU reference frequency + 200-600 MHz
CPU multiplier + Cores and NB
Int. graphics core and video memory frequency + 100-999 MHz (core)
DDR3-1066 to DDR3-1700 MHz (memory)
Advanced Clock Calibration mode + Auto, -12% to +12% (for each core)
Core voltage + 0.988-1.976 V (CPU core)
1.242-1.598 V (CPU NB)
1.1-1.3 V (CPU VDD)
1.1-1.3 V (CPU NB VDD)
Memory voltage + 1.50-2.42 V
Chipset voltage + 1.108-1.337 V (Northbridge)
1.228-1.472 V (Southbridge)
1.202-1.454 V (HT bus)

CPU voltage adjustment range as well as some other BIOS parameters depend on a given processor. We publish results for our Phenom II X4 810. We used BIOS v2.2 dated 12.08.2009.

Modern BIOS versions from MSI are notable for nice overclocking features. In particular, this BIOS can boast of such built-in utilities as CPU-Z and Memory-Z to read specifications of the installed components, SPD, etc. There is also a built-in utility to flash BIOS and an original option MultiStep OC Booster, which supports two bootup modes at reduced frequency (by 80% or 90%) at the initialization step. Indeed, there are some cases when a certain combination of frequencies cause problems exactly at the startup stage, and then the system becomes stable. So this option helps avoid such problems. However, when it does not help, automatic startup with default parameters (also available) does not always snap into action, so you have to power it off and reset the system with a jumper. That's a disappointment, but as this motherboard allows to save several profiles to CMOS, it does not affect usability.

CPU CPU clock, MHz Reference clock (multiplier), MHz CPU core/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) 3800 200 (x19) 1.46/1.30 2600 (x13) 2000 (x10) DDR3-1333 Increased multiplier (CPU core and NB)
Phenom II X4 810 (2.6 GHz) 3640 280 (x13) 1.45/1.30 2520 (x9) 1960 (x7) DDR2-1120 Increased reference clock and reduced CPU NB/HT multipliers

The motherboard was not a bottleneck, when we overclocked a processor with the unlocked multiplier. Indeed, it's possible to find a motherboard that will provide stable operation of our triple-core processor at 3850 MHz. But even in this case there were no problems with the load at this frequency, the system would freeze in Windows already. As we test processors in the 64-bit version of Vista, which is known for higher requirements to stability (32-bit versions of XP and Vista almost always demonstrate higher overclocking results), we can say that it was the operating system, not the motherboard, that limited overclocking results.

When the second processor was overclocked with an increased base frequency, it became apparent that overclocking was limited by the motherboard. We would have branded these results poor for an overclocking motherboard, but for the fact that in this case we deal with a compact model, which are not usually famous for overclocking successes.

Note the disagreement between real processor core voltage values (according to system monitoring data) and what we specified in the corresponding options. Real values turn out to be much lower than specified in the menu. It's not as dangerous as higher values, of course. But users may be surprised why they have to raise the voltage so high to ensure stable operation (or they will stay with lower frequencies, having decided that the motherboard does not allow to reach higher values with the moderately raised voltage).

Performance and power saving

We decided to compare our model under review with the Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H motherboard with the same chipset (though fully sized and with no video buffer).

Radeon HD4850 MSI 785GM-E65 Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:16 2:17
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:14
Crysis (High@1024x768), fps 42 42
Crysis (High@1280x1024), fps 41 41
FarCry 2 (Highest@1680x1050), fps 54.4 53.2
World in Conflict (High@1680x1050), fps 42 42

Int. graphics MSI 785GM-E65 Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec 2:17 2:18
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:15 1:14
Crysis (Low@1024x768), fps 28 27
Crysis (Low@1280x1024), fps 19 18
World in Conflict (Low@1680x1050), fps 24 23
FarCry 2 (Low@1280x720), fps 28.5 28.0

If we take a closer look, we'll notice a tiny advantage of the MSI motherboard in the integrated graphics mode, but it hardly justifies the installed video buffer. In other words, modern graphics cores in AMD chipsets interact with memory really efficiently (it goes through a CPU controller). Perhaps, DDR3 memory also contributes to such results. As a result, a dedicated video buffer provides only a minimal advantage, which becomes visible only in high resolutions in some games.

Enclosure power consumption

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

Phenom II X4 810 + Radeon HD4850 MSI 785GM-E65 Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet ON) 69 76
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) 81 89
FarCry 2, W 134-189 156-201

Phenom II X4 810 + int. graphics MSI 785GM-E65 Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet ON) 10 26
Text editing, W (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) 30 43
FarCry 2, W 39-56 59-85

What concerns power saving, the compact motherboard from MSI is an apparent leader. It can be explained with a good power supply design rather than with its compact format. By the way, Green Power mode probably cannot be disabled in the MSI product (in BIOS, you can only disable indication of the active VRM phases on the LED display near the CPU socket). At least we haven't found any differences in power consumption, no matter whether this BIOS option was enabled or not. Absolute values are also encouraging, especially the impressive result with the integrated graphics. Such results are demonstrated by a processor with a standard TDP, and the integrated chipset is not weak here! It can be apparently explained with very efficient power saving in the idle mode, both of the processor and the chipset (by the way, for this very reason upgrading to E-series processors with reduced TDP provides additional power saving mostly under load, while all idle Phenoms II drops their clock rates and voltages to a similar level). This computer can be always powered on (to download torrents or as a media server in your home network), even if electricity is expensive in your country.

It should be noted that the mentioned 10 Watts are consumed by an assembled system from a PSU. Total power consumption from the main line will be a tad higher (depending on power conversion efficiency under low load). So if you really keen on assembling a power-efficient computer, you should thoroughly choose an efficient PSU.


This motherboard is even better than we have thought before the tests. Peripheral functionality really leaves almost nothing to be desired. It offers full support for overclocking experiments, both in terms of BIOS options and stable power supply for an overclocked processor owing to the reliable VRM and cooling system. That is engineers in MSI fully implemented their idea to create a compact motherboard for hard-driving users. This product also demonstrates very good power saving results.

The motherboard provided by MSI,
ATI RADEON HD4850 provided by HIS.

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