790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

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TEST RESULTS

Our test system is fairly basic, featuring a X2 4850e, a mid-level dual core processor with a low 45W TDP cooled by a stock AMD heatpipe cooler connected to a variable DC fan controller so the fan's power draw does not come into play. The rest of the system consists of a single stick of Corsair memory, an Asus Blu-ray drive, a 5400RPM notebook hard drive and an OEM Seasonic 400W power supply. The operating system used is Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit).

Test Results: X2 4850e @ 2.5GHz (C&Q), 128MB UMA
Test State
Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H
MSI DKA790GX Platinum
Mean
CPU
System Power
Mean
CPU
System Power
Off
N/A
2W
N/A
2W
Sleep (S3)
N/A
3W
N/A
2W
Idle
N/A
37W
N/A
39W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
10%
57W
10%
62W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
47%
57W
45%
64W
Drag Race
(VC-1)
67%
70W
72%
76W
Disturbia
(Blu-ray H.264)
32%
68W
33%
70W
CPU Load
N/A
93W
N/A
95W
CPU + GPU Load
N/A
107W
N/A
109W

With 128MB of system memory allocated to the IGP, CPU usage during video playback was similar, varying by only a few percentage points at most. The DKA790GX used more power during playback regardless of the minor differences in CPU usage. The 790GP-DS4H also used less power when idle and during full load.

Test Results: X2 4850e @ 2.5GHz (C&Q), 128MB Sideport
Test State
Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H
MSI DKA790GX Platinum
Mean
CPU
System Power
Mean
CPU
System Power
Idle
N/A
38W
N/A
36W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
15%
46W
10%
58W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
33%
55W
38%
55W
Drag Race
(VC-1)
57%
64W
62%
69W
Disturbia
(Blu-ray H.264)
34%
61W
33%
71W
CPU Load
N/A
96W
N/A
94W
CPU + GPU Load
N/A
104W
N/A
107W
DKA790GX Platinum configured with 32MB UMA (minimum) and 64MB during Blu-ray playback. 790GP-DS4H had no system memory allocated to the IGP.

When Sideport memory was enabled, The DKA790GX required 32MB of system memory to be allocated to the IGP as it was unable to run on Sideport memory alone. However, PowerDVD and other playback software would not play our Blu-ray disc in this configuration. After some investigation we discovered that the UMA frame buffer had to be increased to 64MB. Incidentally, 128MB UMA alone, without Sideport, was enough for Blu-ray playback with the screen resolution set to 1920 x 1200, while only 64MB UMA was required at 1680 x 1050.

Running with Sideport memory alone, the 790GP-DS4H used less power during playback of most of our video clips and at full load with both the CPU and GPU stressed. Idle and with CPU load only, the DKA790GX had the advantage, possibly due to inefficiency in the implementation of the DKA790GX's Sideport memory, or the extra resources required for the small amount of system memory used by the IGP.



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