790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

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UNDERCLOCKED

The 790GP-DS4H was a slightly better unclocker, keeping the system stable at 1.5GHz with only 0.850V CPU voltage. The DKA790GX required an extra 0.025V. Sideport memory was used rather than UMA — we established earlier that it was the more power efficient way to go on both boards.

Test Results: X2 4850e @ 1.5GHz, 128MB Sideport
Test State
Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H
(0.850V)
DKA790GX Platinum (0.875V)
Mean
CPU
System Power
Mean
CPU
System Power
Idle
N/A
37W
N/A
35W
Rush Hour
(H.264)
10%
44W
12%
45W
Coral Reef
(WMV-HD)
40%
45W
57%
47W
Drag Race
(VC-1)
78%
49W
78%
49W
Disturbia
(Blu-ray H.264)
42%
49W
54%
48W
CPU Load
N/A
53W
N/A
53W
CPU + GPU Load
N/A
60W
N/A
64W
* DKA790GX Platinum configured with 32MB UMA (minimum) and 64MB during Blu-ray playback.
* 790GP-DS4H had no system memory allocated to the IGP.
* Grey boxes indicate test failure.

Underclocked and undervolted, the two boards performed very similarly, with the 790GP-DS4H just edging out the DKA790GX by 1-2W in most tests. A 4W difference was recorded when both the CPU and GPU were placed under load. This time around CPU usage was noticeably higher during VC-1 playback, up to 17% though this did not translate into significant differences in power consumption — it varied by only a couple of watts for these two clips. It should be noted that the most demanding clip, Drag Race, failed to render properly on both boards when underclocked. The audio clipped and went out of sync, while the video stuttered as it dropped frames.

PHENOM II POWER

Power consumption was also compared with a Phenom II X4 940 processor as the 790GX chipset is the ideal choice for these new chips.

Power Consumption: Phenom II X4 940
Test State
Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H
MSI DKA790GX Platinum
Idle
57W
52W
VC-1
79W
86W
CPU Load
(2 cores)
122W
119W
CPU Load
(4 cores)
166W
166W
CPU + GPU
Load
176W
183W
Systems were configured with 2GB of RAM, Sideport memory enabled and UMA set to 128MB.

The DKA790GX bested the Gigabyte by 5W idle, and 3W when two of the CPU's cores were put under load. On full CPU load, the Gigabyte drew even. It seemed the MSI was more energy efficient with the 125W TDP processor as long as the IGP was left out of the equation. The 790GP-DS4H used 7W less during VC-1 playback and when both the CPU and GPU were stressed.

Whenever we recorded a significant power consumption advantage for the Gigabyte, it was during tests where the integrated graphics were being taxed, be it by video playback or our synthetic 3D stress test, FurMark. It did not matter what configuration we used for IGP memory, or whether we used an energy efficient X2 or a high-powered Phenom II, the DKA790GX was always less energy efficient when the IGP was in active use.



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