790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

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For enthusiasts, the options available within the BIOS can make a good board, a great one. The ability to manipulate frequencies, voltages, and fan control settings vary depending on the hardware and the amount of confidence in the user by the manufacturer.


Gigabyte's "MB Intelligent Tweaker" menu with maximum values entered.

"PC Health Status" menu.

Gigabyte's BIOS allows for a fair amount of tweaking frequencies and voltages, even those pertaining to the IGP. VGA clock and Sideport memory options are available as well. Fan control settings were lacking. Both the CPU and System fan can be controlled, but the only settings available are "Enabled" and "Disabled."

MSI DKA790GX Platinum

MSI's "Cell Menu" with maximum frequencies entered.

MSI's "Cell Menu" with maximum voltages entered.

"Hardware Monitor"

The customization available in MSI's BIOS was similar for frequency and voltage. Fan control was more detailed as it allows for the user to specify a target CPU temperature and minimum fan speed for the CPU fan. The System fan can be set to a constant speed of 50%, 75% or 100%.


Notable BIOS Adjustments
DKA790GX Platinum
CPU Frequency 200 to 500MHz 200 to 600MHz
CPU Voltage 0.800V to 1.550V in 0.025V increments 0.800V to 1.300V in 0.025V increments, 1.300V to 1.600 in 0.05V increments
Memory Frequency DDR 400, 533, 667, 800 (depends on CPU)
1:1, 1:33, 1:66, 1:2 (depends on CPU)
Memory Timing Control Intermediate Intermediate
Memory Voltage 1.850V to 2.400V in 0.05V increments 1.80V to 2.10V in 0.025V increments, up to 2.30V in 0.10V increments
Northbridge Voltage 1.200V to 1.600V in 0.025V increments, 1.20V to 1.50V in 0.05V increments
Southbridge Voltage 1.20V to 1.50V in 0.10V increments N/A
HT Link Voltage N/A 1.20V to 1.50V in 0.05V increments
Integrated Graphics
VGA Core Clock 200MHz to 2000MHz 150MHz to 1500MHz
Memory Options UMA, Sideport, UMA+Sideport UMA, UMA+Sideport
Frame Buffer 128MB, 256MB, 512MB 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB
Sideport Clock DDR 333, 400, 533, 667 (DDR = double data rate) 667MHz, 800MHz, 1066MHz, 1333MHz, 1600MHz, 1700MHz
Fan Control
CPU Fan Enabled or Disabled Target Temp: 40°C to 60°C in 5°C increments
Minimum Speed: 0% to 87.5% in 12.5% increments
SYS Fan Enabled or Disabled Fan Speed: 50%, 75%, 100%

The BIOS options of the two boards were similar, except for frequency extremes which are unlikely to ever be used. We noticed that the MSI board does not allow the integrated graphics to use Sideport memory only — it requires some amount of system memory to be allocated, with 32MB being the minimum. That was the biggest obvious difference.

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