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MSI DKA790GX Motherboard

Nice on the outside, practical inside.

February 11, 2009



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Performance and power saving

We decided to compare this motherboard with ECS A790GXM-A based on the same chipset, which graphics core operates at the standard frequency by default (700 MHz), and which can boast of video memory: 128 MB DDR2-800. This is a medium edition, and there exist modifications with a smaller video buffer with slower DDR2 memory and with faster DDR3. MSI DKA790GX is not equipped with a video buffer, and its GPU frequency is reduced to 650 MHz.


Test Int. graphics Discrete graphics
ECS A790GXM-A MSI DKA790GX ECS A790GXM-A MSI DKA790GX
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 1:38 1:33 1:38 1:33
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 4:44 4:38 4:44 4:39
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium@800x600), fps 54.2 53.8 59.3 60.0
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1024x768), fps 48.6 47.9 58.6 59.9
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Highest@1600x1200), fps 28.5 27.3 59.0 59.7
FarCry (Medium@800x600), fps 102.4 99.0 136.1 137.7
FarCry (High@1024x768), fps 72.6 69.4 125.8 138.5
FarCry (Highest@1600x1200), fps 33.2 31.4 125.8 138.3
DOOM III (Medium@800x600), fps 66.9 63.3 161.7 164.8
DOOM III (High@1024x768), fps 47.8 45.0 159.9 165.6
DOOM III (Highest@1600x1200), fps 22.8 21.3 158.3 157.5

Congratulations to MSI with this excellent BIOS, which helps the motherboard demonstrate top results in computing tests and games with a graphics card not only versus the motherboard from ECS, but also among all previously tested mobos with this chipset. And by the way, these excellent results are demonstrated despite the lack of a video buffer, which can theoretically have a positive effect on performance in some sensitive computing tests (archivers, encoders), as the integrated core does not need to address system memory in this case to refresh a frame buffer (though the memory controller integrated into a processor). But in practice it turns out that additional timings and other BIOS nuances have a stronger effect. What concerns extra traffic, it's evidently negligible for the memory controller integrated into AMD processors. Just remember that such controllers work in server Opterons, and they cope with much heavier tasks (for example, when one processor addresses remote memory -- physically connected to another processor). What concerns Phenom, its Hyper-Transport bus operates at the double frequency relative to Athlon, so there is no even theoretical bottleneck even between a processor and the chipset. And in games, where the integrated graphics core generates more traffic with memory to read textures and other data, a motherboard with a video buffer gets an advantage (even if minimal), especially if it works at a higher frequency.

Power consumption (entire system unit)


Phenom X4 9550 (Cool'n'Quiet OFF) Int. graphics Discrete graphics
ECS A790GXM-A MSI DKA790GX ECS A790GXM-A MSI DKA790GX
Text editing, W 45 32-47 72 62
Playing FarCry, W 77-98 71-86 108-137 98-139

Unorthodox VRM from MSI expectedly proved its worth in power consumption tests. This motherboard is really power efficient. Its power consumption varies in idle mode. However, it stays within the limits of ECS motherboard (very decent limits, by the way). So we should note one more time that the talk about allegedly high power consumption of Phenom processors is nothing bus attempts to overblow excitement. In fact, power consumption of a system is determined by a graphics card in the first place. Those who don't need high 3D performance can buy a motherboard with top-speed integrated graphics and Athlon or Phenom with TDP within 65-95 W. Then you can bet (and win) that your system consumes less power and remains cooler than your neighbor's computer with an Intel processor (with a similar TDP) and a motherboard with a discrete chipset. As the Intel platform lacks integrated chipsets that can stand up to the 790GX in performance, such a computer will be certainly equipped with a graphics card like Radeon HD 3450 (which is even slower than the 790GX). It's a popular solution among non-gamers who still want to have basic gaming functionality and low heat release and noise.

We don't have intentions of denigrating Intel products, but the platform approach provides more accurate results, especially in power consumption. Just pay attention to absolute power consumption values, and you will see whether any fuss is appropriate here.

Conclusions

To all appearances, MSI positions this motherboard for a wide audience. For users who choose a motherboard for a generic computer with the most advanced chipset, but who are not inclined to pay extra money for various on-board options. As a result, this board lacks additional controllers and even a video buffer (which is not typical of motherboards on this chipset). We hope that it will all have a corresponding effect on the price. On the other hand, inherent functions of this motherboard are very attractive -- S/PDIF and eSATA, a full set of video outputs. It also offers decent performance and overclocks Low-End processors very well. It only demonstrates a frivolous approach to VRM cooling. But even here restrictions appear only for hardcore overclockers, and they are not included into the target audience.


The motherboard provided by the manufacturer,
ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card provided by PowerColor.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, features

Page 2: Functionality, overclocking

Page 3: Power, conclusions



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