Desktop CPU Power Survey, April 2006

CPUs|Motherboards | Power
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Six test platforms were used. One each for socket 754 AMD processors, for socket 939 AMD processors, for Pentium M, for Intel Core Solo / Duo and two for Intel socket 775. Each motherboard was flashed to the latest BIOS. Each system was run with the same amount of RAM, and a notebook drive, which all have idle power consumption of ~1W or less, in order to keep the system power as consistent as possible. The same power supply unit was used for each and every platform to eliminate any differences in power supply efficiency. This entailed a lot of plugging and unplugging, as you might guess.

We were able to use the onboard graphics card for all but one of the motherboard. Onboard graphics was one of the criteria used to choose the motherboards for this project. The main reason was to minimize total system power consumption and to reduce differences in peripheral power differences among the systems. (The one exception was the Core Solo / Duo motherboard, which is a pre-production test lab sample. When the testing was being done, there were no retail Core Solo / Duo boards available anywhere.)

CPU Socket
2 x 512 MB OCZ Gold PC3200 DDR SDRAM
Seagate Momentus 5400.3 ST9160821A
Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS
(Pentium M)
AOpen i915Ga-HFS
2 x 512 MB Corsair DDR2 SDRAM
Hitachi E7K100
(Core Solo/Duo)
AOpen 975Xa-YDG*
Samsung MP0402H
AOpen i945Ga-PHS
Seagate Momentus 5400.2 ST9120821AS
Intel D945GTP


A. Each and every platform is a minimalist system. There are no extras of any kind. This is realistic for the low end or low power processors, but not so realistic for the higher power / performance ones. Few users would buy a high performance processor and only use onboard graphics or a 5400 rpm notebook drive. We know that. The objective of this article required the most minimalist setups, however, and consistency in the test platform configurations.

B. The AOpen 975Xa-YDG Lab Sample preproduction board is not equipped with onboard graphics. There were no other options for Core Solo / Duo boards at time of writing, certainly none on the retail market. An outboard PCIe graphics card was used, the AOpen Aeolus PCX6600-DV128LP. Based on X-bit Labs' recent roundup of graphics card power, we'd estimate that this card has a minimum (idle) power draw of 10~14W and a maximum of 25~30W. For our testing, only the idle power matters.

A quick glance at this new AOpen board reveals its high end aspirations clearly. Rest assured it will have a hefty price tag. (NOTE: This board was marked "Lab Sample" with a BIOS that was not quite ready for prime time; a review will have to wait for a production sample.)

The AOpen 975Xa-YDG board for Core Solo/Duo sports many features, including Dual PCIe x16 video card slots, a full compliment of I/O for 7.1 ch audio, S/PDIF in and out, gigabit LAN, and finally, a socket 478 heatsink mounting bracket that allows the use of large, high performance coolers that can run quietly with big fans.

C. There are two socket 775 platforms for the simple reason that the Intel 930 and 950 processors, which arrived late in the testing process, would not run with the AOpen i945Ga-PHS board on which other 775 socket processors had been tested. This is despite running the latest available BIOS that was supposed to expressly support the 900 series. The Intel D945GTP did support the 900 series processors, but it was not an ideal test bed because of a very limited BIOS and lack of support for Windows-based clock-speed and Vcore utilities. This is why the 930 and 950 were tested only with default voltage settings; no other setting could be applied, either from the BIOS or via Windows utilities.

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