Asus M3N78 Pro: Geforce 8300 & HybridPower Explored

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FINAL THOUGHTS

After extensive testing, we can conclude that the Asus M3N78 Pro and its Geforce 8300 chipset is a success. Compared directly to Gigabyte's GA-MA78GM-S2H and its AMD 780G chipset, the nVidia chipset board has the power efficiency edge in all areas, saving up to 11W depending on the load. For a low power system, 11W is a sizable amount. High definition playback was comparable, but again more energy efficient. Only in 3D performance did the M3N78 Pro fall a bit short.

The HybridPower feature, while not able to completely shut down the Geforce GTX 260 we tested, still reduced power consumption by as much as 17W. It's a fraction of the card's overall power consumption, but it's better than nothing. When the power saving mode was activated, it also stopped the GTX 260's fan — this is possibly a boon for silent PCs. During game play, a video card's fan noise is mitigated by the sound/volume pumping out of the speakers — in many cases, its when a gaming card is idle that the sound level of its fan is most annoying.

Asus did a pretty good job on other details. The fan control is good, with smooth automatic control, and fully customizable control via SpeedFan if you're so inclined. The board also overclocks well, even though current AMD CPUs are not known for their overclockability. Express Gate is a nifty addition to Asus boards — the fast boot-up time coupled with its ease of use truly illustrates the advantage of Linux's low system requirements. It is a kind of subversive attempt to promote Linux, rather than a shot at Microsoft as the orignal Asus EEE sub-notebook.

The M3N78 Pro is a polished piece of hardware — rarely do we encounter a motherboard that does not present serious bugs or quirks, let alone one that impresses in almost every criteria. If you're in the market for an AM2+ motherboard, there is little reason not to choose this one. It's a complete, well-balanced package.

PROS

* Excellent, efficient high definition playback
* Low power consumption
* HybridPower reduces power draw modestly
* Overclocks well
* Good fan control
* Express Gate convenient for simple tasks
CONS

* 3D performance lacking
* HybridPower savings much less than expected






Our thanks to Asus and AMD for the product samples.

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