Asus M3N78 Pro: Geforce 8300 & HybridPower Explored

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OVERCLOCKING

With very effective third party heatsinks on the market, and many low power CPUs available, overclocking, to an extent, can improve performance without compromising the noise level of a silent PC. A simple overclocking investigation was conducted with the CPU multiplier set to 5x and RAM at 533Mhz/2.155V. The CPU frequency was increased in increments of 5Mhz until the system failed a 5 minute of Prime95 and 3DView running simultaneously or failed to boot or showed other signs of instability.


The maximum FSB overclock with our X2 4850e.

We found that the M3N78 Pro could boost our X2 4850e up 265Mhz. At +270Mhz, it would boot into Vista but blue-screen shortly thereafter. No graphical anamolies presented in ATIToo,l suggesting the overclock did not compromise the video subsystem. With ample voltage applied to our X2 4850e processor, we managed to get it partially stable at 3.17Ghz using a 12x multiplier. All in all, these are fairly good results.

3D PERFORMANCE

Normally we don't get into the realm of game benchmarking, but we wanted to see whether Geforce 8300 is any better than AMD's HD 3200 (780G). For this we used 3DMark05 and 3DMark06 — not the best or most accurate of benchmarks, but it's simple to use, requires very little work on our part, and looks pretty on the screen when it's running.

Futuremark Comparison
Test
Geforce 8300 IGP
780G
(HD 3200 IGP)
780G
(HD 3450)
3DMark05
1669
2293
3705
3DMark06
902
1116
1716
All results with 2GB of system RAM and 256MB of VRAM assigned (when applicable).

Unfortunately, nVidia falls well behind AMD in terms of 3D IGP performance with 3DMark. However it should be noted that neither IGP can match even an entry-level graphics card like the HD3450, which can be found for $30~$40. If you're going to attempt to do any modern PC gaming with an IGP-based system, you'll have varying degrees of horrific with any IGP. For older games or perhaps web-based games, the 780G chipset appear superior, but the edge is not huge.

HDMI OUTPUT

When we connected the board's HDMI output to our BenQ FP94VW monitor, it allowed us to select a large variety of resolutions including the native resolution of 1440x900. The resulting image was zoomed in slightly, however. Not a big deal for watching movies, but for desktop use, it's probably unacceptable. The audio portion of the singal worked flawlessly.

COOLING

The board's chipset heatsink did a decent job — its surface reached 60°C while overclocked and at full load, according to an IR thermometer. The power efficiency of the chipset has a lot to do with the relatively cool temperature. The VRMs are noticeably naked; that is, bare of any heatsinks. It may be advisable to use additional cooling for the exposed MOSFETs if overclocking and/or using a tower heatsink. That being said, we did not observe any instability brought on by overheating components or otherwise.



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