790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI

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SMART FAN?

We tested the boards' Smart Fan feature by connecting the CPU cooler's fan to a variable DC fan controller, so we could lower it manually to increase the CPU temperature while loading it with Prime95. A Xigmatek 120mm PWM fan was connected to the CPU fan header while a Scythe Kama Flow 80mm 3-pin fan was connected to the secondary fan header. We're interested in seeing how the output to those fan headers varies with CPU temperature changes.

Smart Fan Behavior (CPU Fan)
Critera
Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H
DKA790GX Platinum
Trigger Temp.
24°C
49°C
(50°C setting)
Temp. Range
35°C
3°C
Fan Speed
Range
300 RPM to 2660 RPM
1310 RPM to 2720 RPM
(minimum speed set to 0%)
Smart Fan Behavior (SYS Fan)
Trigger Temp.
N/A
N/A
Temp. Range
N/A
N/A
Fan Speed
Range
500 RPM
680 RPM
(50% setting)

Gigabyte's Smart Fan setting resulted in the SYS fan running a constant 500 RPM throughout stress testing. The CPU fan spun at 300 RPM at core temperatures of 24°C and below, topping out at 2660 RPM at 59°C. The increase in fan speed was a smooth, gradual progression.

MSI's fan control was not so smart. The CPU fan's minimum speed was 1310 RPM even when set to 0% in the BIOS. The selected target temperature of 50°C was almost dead-on — the fan speed increased rapidly once the core temperature reached 49°C, topping out at 2720 RPM when the core temperature reached 52°C. The SYS fan stayed at the approximate speed designated in the BIOS — 50% or 680 RPM for the fan we utilized. 75% and 100% were the other options.

SPEEDFAN SUPPORT

For Windows users, SpeedFan is our application of choice for fan control. It can be configured to raise or lower multiple fan speeds to designated limits when any specified temperature threshold is breached.


790GP-DS4H SpeedFan correlations.

The Gigabyte 790GP-DS4H had excellent SpeedFan support. It reported the speeds of all fans connected to the four fan headers on the board and allowed for full control of the CPU_FAN and SYS_FAN1 headers whether they were of the 3-pin or 4-pin PWM variety. To enable fan control find chip "IT8718F" in the Advanced tab of the Configuration menu and set PWM 1 & 2 modes to "Software Controlled."

Deciphering the various temperature sensors was much more difficult. Temp2 and Temp3 followed the rise in Core temperature when the CPU was stressed, but to varying degrees. It is probably best to consider "Core" as the "proper" CPU temperature as that reading is taken directly from the CPU rather than the motherboard's sensors. Temp1 seemed to be tied to the VRM area to the left of the CPU socket as it decreased by several degrees when we placed a fan over that portion of the motherboard during load.


DKA790GX Platinum SpeedFan correlations.

SpeedFan support on the MSI board was more limited. SpeedFan reported the speeds of all fans connected to the three fan headers on the board, allowed for full control of the SYS_FAN1 header, but the CPU_FAN1 header was unable to control 3-pin fans and had a limited range when a PWM fan was connected. The Xigmatek PWM fan we tested on this header could be manipulated to run at 2800 RPM maximum and 1320 RPM minimum and no lower. To enable fan control find chip "F71882F" in the Advanced tab of the Configuration menu and set PWM 1 & 4 modes to "Manual set PWM."

The temperature sensors were more obvious on the DKA790GX. Temp1 followed the Core temperature very closely, and Temp3 varied with how the degree of cooling provided to the northbridge/VRM area. Temp2 on the otherhand jumped up and down like a sine wave during stress testing, defying reason — it's probably safe to ignore this one.



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