Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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FAN CONTROL

When it comes to customizable control, SpeedFan is our application of choice. If properly supported, it can be configured to raise/lower multiple fan speeds to designated limits when any specified temperature threshold is breached.


SpeedFan main screen.

The current version of SpeedFan did not seem to support this board at all. Most of the readings were blank and no amount of tweaking allowed us to initiate manual fan control. Furthermore, Intel does not provide any officially supported monitoring programs.

To test BIOS' automatic fan control system we hooked up a Scythe 92mm PWM fan (2500 RPM) to the CPU fan header (it cannot control 3-pin fans) and a Scythe 80mm fan (1500 RPM) to the chassis fan header. We then undervolted the CPU fan to 4V and stressed the CPU with Prime95, keeping an eye on the core temperature and monitoring the fan speeds using an anenometer. Due to the inherent difficulty of the test due to the lack of monitoring software, we had to repeat each run twice to get usable results.

First off we set the Processor Zone Damping to Normal and varied Zone Response between Aggressive, Normal, and Slow. The results were almost identical for all three settings — the only thing differentiating them was what temperature triggered the fan ramp up, and even that was different by only a single degree. The Aggressive, Normal, and Slow settings started to increase the CPU fan speed at 67°C, 68°C, and 69°C respectively, and this these temperatures could only be achieved by turning the CPU fan off. The CPU fan reached its full speed when the temperature increased by a total of 8°C. What was more interesting was the behavior of the Chassis fan — it pulsed annoyingly between 1350 and 1500 RPM until the maximum temperature was reached and then stayed at 1500 RPM until the CPU began to cool down again.

When the Processor Zone Damping was set to High, the fan response accelerated, but only slightly. Honestly, there was very little differentiating the various settings. In a blind-test, you would not be able to guess what the settings were configured to, unless you were some kind of idiot savant. In our opinion, the system waits too long to ramp up the CPU fan, and does it too quickly when it finally does kick in. The Chassis fan speed behavior is puzzling and distracting and in fact we would not recommend plugging a fan into the Chassis fan header at all.

COOLING

To test the cooling on the board, we lowered the CPU cooling fan's voltage to 7V to reduce the amount of top-down airflow the nearby components received. We then stressed the system with Prime95 and ATITool and whipped our our handy IR thermometer to check the results. After about 20 minutes of load, the hottest point on the northbridge heatsink registered 71°C, while the southbridge heatsink read 72°C. Neither reading is that high compared to other boards we've tested. Most of the board's MOSFETs remained quite cool throughout testing as they were close to the CPU socket and probably received enough top-down cooling.



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