Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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TEST RESULTS

Our test system is fairly basic, featuring a notebook hard drive and Blu-ray drive. The CPU is a Core 2 Duo E6400, an older processor with modest power requirements (65W). It is cooled by an Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro CPU cooler connected to a variable DC fan controller (so the fan's power draw does not come into play).

Test Results: Intel DG45FC
Test State
CPU Usage
System Power (AC)
Mean
Peak
Off
N/A
2W
Sleep (S3)
N/A
7W
Idle
1%
2%
49W
Rush Hour
34%
53%
58W
Coral Reef
27%
33%
63W
Flight Sim.
40%
56%
68W
Drag Race
44%
60%
66W
Prime95
100%
97W
Prime95 + ATITool
100%
98W

The X4500 graphics chip did not have any difficulty with our video test suite, passing with flying colors. Power consumption was slightly lower than we typically we see with LGA775 boards, except the 7W recorded in Sleep mode which was unusually high. Normally we see a 1W difference on most systems between Off and Sleep.

Comparables
Test State
Asus P5E-VM HDMI
Zotac NF610i-ITX
Intel DG45FC
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Mean CPU Usage
System Power
Off
N/A
3W
N/A
2W
N/A
2W
Sleep
N/A
4W
N/A
48W*
N/A
7W
Idle
1%
56W
1%
50W
1%
49W
Rush Hour
36%
~65W
33%
~61W
34%
~58W
Coral Reef
29%
~64W
28%
~58W
27%
~63W
Flight Sim.
47%
~71W
46%
~70W
40%
~68W
Drag Race
54%
~69W
55%
~65W
44%
~66W
Prime95
100%
96W
100%
102W
100%
97W
Prime95 + ATITool
100%
97W
100%
103W
100%
98W
*Lacks S3 suspend-to-RAM feature.

Compared to other LGA775 motherboards, the DG45FC looks pretty good. It is very close in overall power efficiency to the nVidia-based Zotac NF610i-ITX, and noticeably more efficient than the Asus P5E-VM HDMI, based on the G45 chipset's predecessor, G35. High definition playback was marginally better in terms of CPU usage. The system only drew one extra watt when the GPU was stressed with ATITool, so the X4500 IGP's power requirements are about the same as X3500.

System Power Consumption: Comparisons with E7200 Processor
Test State
Asus
P5E-VM HDMI
Zotac NF610i-ITX
Intel DG45FC
Gigabyte MA74GM (X2 4850e)
Idle
47W
35W
35W
31W
Rush Hour
52W
43W
42W
58W
Coral Reef
52W
42W
43W
58W
Flight Sim.
55W
48W
46W
63W
Drag Race
56W
48W
47W
66W
Prime95
73W
65W
64W
92W
Prime95 + ATITool
75W
67W
65W
97W

With the DG45FC registering the lowest idle power consumption we've seen for an Intel board (without an embeded processor), we installed a newer, more efficient Core 2 Duo E7200 processor manufactured using 45nm process (code name "Wolfdale") to see if we could lower the power consumption. The E7200 runs at 2.53Ghz with a 1066 Mhz front side bus and has 3MB of L2 cache. The stock settings were used as the board is incapable of underclocking or undervolting. Surprisingly, despite the fact the E7200 and E6400 have the same 65W TDP rating, using the E7200 caused the power draw to drop by 14W at idle, 16-22W during video playback and 33W on full load. The Zotac NF610i-ITX performed similarly, but the P5E-VM HDMI was much more power hungry than our E6400-equipped test platform.

The most efficient AMD mATX mainboard we've tested, the Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2 (paired with a 45W AMD processor) has a small though 4W advantage at idle. However with any kind of load, the two Intel mini-ITX boards were more efficient by 15W to 32W when paired with the E7200 processor. The E7200 however, is a much more expensive processor, retailing for $120 compared to the X2 4850e's $70. A good alternative may be the recently released $85 Pentium Dual-Core E5200. It is also a Wolfdale processor but is clocked slightly slower at 2.5Ghz and is hampered further with less L2 cache and a slower front side bus; it's likely to perform similarly.

While these results are profound, we won't be changing our Intel motherboard test bed to include the E7200 as getting the absolute lowest system power consumption isn't our main testing goal. A slower processor is ideal for judging an IGP's video playback efficiency — if the E7200 ran at around 2GHz, we would not hesitate to change our methods. So while we won't be changing our test bed, this little experiment gives us something to keep in mind: AMD is not the undisputed king of CPU power efficiency any longer. If other G45 and/or Geforce 7 series mATX boards generate similar results, Intel could very well be the new energy efficiency champion.



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