Intel DG41MJ: Affordable 775 Mini-ITX

CPUs|Motherboards
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Cooling

Lower cost boards ship with simple heatsinks on the Northbridge and Southbridge while those targeted at enthusiasts typically have large heatpipe coolers and heatsinks on the voltage regulation modules near the CPU socket. A well-cooled motherboard can deliver better power efficiency and stability. To test cooling, reduced the CPU fan speed to 5V, and stressed the CPU and GPU for 10~20 minutes. Temperatures were recorded with a spot thermometer (hottest point).

Heatsink Temperatures
Measuring Point
DG41MJ
DG45FC
SB Chip
68°C
72°C
NB Heatsink
48°C
71°C
Ambient temperature: 22°C

On load, the DG41MJ's Northbridge heatsink measured much lower than the DG45FC. The Southbridge, which is bare on both boards, registered a few degrees lower as well. Overall, cooling is not an issue for the board.

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.


SpeedFan main screen.

Like many Intel boards, the current version of SpeedFan was not compatible. It did not show fan speeds or offer any fan controls.

BIOS Fan Control

To test the board's fan control, we connected the CPU fan to a manual fan speed controller so we could slow it down to induce higher CPU temperatures during load. A Scythe Kama 92mm PWM fan (2500 RPM maximum) was connected to the CPU fan header and a Scythe Kama 80mm fan (1500 RPM maximum) was connected to the system fan header. Fan speeds were measured manually with a tachometer. In the BIOS, "Lowest System Fan Speed" was set to "Slow."

Heatsink Temperatures
Criterion
CPU Fan (2500 RPM)
System Fan (1500 RPM)
Min. Fan Speed
560 RPM
720 RPM
Trigger Temp.
50°C
65°C
Range
Unknown, 1210 RPM @ 75°C
Unknown, 1320 RPM @ 75°C
Ambient temperature: 22°C

The CPU and System fans spun at 560 and 720 RPM respectively with the system idle. The CPU fan did not increase in speed until the Core temperature reached 50°C, while the System fan followed suit at around 65°C. We were unable to determine the temperature range because both fans failed to reach their maximum speeds by the time the Core temperature hit 75°C (which was accomplished by turning off the actual CPU fan for several minutes). We were not comfortable stressing the processor further and ended the test.

Surprisingly Intel's fan control on this particular board was too passive, waiting for too long before ramping up the fans, and even then the rate of increase was not aggressive enough for our liking.



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