ASRock A780GXE vs AOD790GX - Phenom Battle - BIOS, Energy Saving and Overclocking

Article Index
ASRock A780GXE vs AOD790GX - Phenom Battle
Closer Look at the Boards A780GXE and AOD790GX
AMD 780 Chipset and A780GXE/128M Features
AMD 790 Chipset and AOD790GX/128M Features
BIOS, Energy Saving and Overclocking
Test Setup, HDD and Systems Testing
Let the Benchmarking Begin - Synthetic
Real-World Gaming and Applications Benchmarked

ASRock A780GXE and AOD790GX BIOS:

The motherboard BIOS is probably one of the most boring areas to look at if you're not an overclocker or enthusiast.  Mainstream users will probably want to skip down to the overclocking section to see how easy it is to tweak and overclock this board.  For you hardcore users, check out the BIOS screenshots of both motherboards below.  Both are pretty straightforward and we've only included a few of the BIOS screens that will be of interest.  We've also included a few of the BIOS screens that show a difference between the motherboards.  Many sections like "Boot Order" have been left out as we simply can't handle that much excitement.  For now, the advanced bios settings will have to keep you happy - and tweaking your RAM, CPU and voltages until your heart's content.

 A780GXE - BIOS Main
A780GXE - BIOS Main
 AOD790GX - BIOS Main
AOD790GX - BIOS Main

 

There are a few changes on some of the BIOS screens between the two motherboards.  While the Advanced CPU configuration screen is pretty much the same, the Advanced Chipset BIOS screen on the AOD790GX has the additional Advanced Clock Calibration option that can be adjusted from -12 to +12 in "2" increments.  This is a feature of the SB750 chipset on the AOD790GX/128M.  You can see that both boards support HDMI, integrated GPU overclocking, Surround View, and SidePort.

 A780GXE - CPU Config
A780GXE - CPU Config
 AOD790GX - CPU Config
AOD790GX - CPU Config
   
 A780GXE - Advanced Chipset
A780GXE - Advanced Chipset
 AOD790GX - Advanced Chipset
AOD790GX - Advanced Chipset
   
 A780GXE - Memory Settings
A780GXE - Memory Settings
 AOD790GX - Memory Settings
AOD790GX - Memory Settings

 


The last few BIOS settings show below are all taken from the AOD790GX motherboard.  Pictured below is the ACC Settings from the Advanced Chipset screen, Smart Settings that are actually available on both boards and the Hardware Monitor.

 AOD790GX - ACC Settings
AOD790GX - ACC Settings
AOD790GX - Smart Settings
AOD790GX - Smart Settings
AOD790GX - HW Monitor
AOD790GX - HW Monitor

 

With the BIOS behind us, now we take a look at the Intelligent Energy Saver (IES).

 

Power Saving IES:

If you're feeling a little greener than power hungry, you may be more interested in the Intelligent Energy Saver feature of this motherboard.  This feature only works with Phenom Quad core processors at this time and puts the CPU into a lower power state and even drops the voltage regulation from 4-phase to 2-phase.  This is dynamic and when required your processor will clock back up to normal speed.  Think of IES as an advanced "Cool & Quiet" for Phenoms.

 IES - On

In order to use IES, the BIOS setting for "Cool 'n' Quiet" must be set to "Enabled".  Choosing "Auto" or "Disabled" will render IES defunct.

 

Overclocking:

With all the adjustments that we just covered, I actually had some hope in this board when it came to overclocking.  Undoubtedly, the thing that will hold is back is an AMD processor.  For this review we used the Phenom x4 9950 Black Edition in order to play around with multiplier and FSB adjustments.  We also wanted to try out the ACC options on the AOD790GX motherboard as this is supposed to increase Phenom processors overclockability.  After much tweaking on the A780GXE/128M we managed to reach 2.92GHz.  Even though the multiplier is unlocked on the Black Edition, our best results were at 13x 225MHz.  Although I could get the A780GXE up to 3.0GHz for a few hours, it ended up failing Prime95's torture test.

 

The AOD790GX/128M proved to be a better motherboard when it came to overclocking, but I'm not sure how much of that has to do with AMD's new Advanced Clock Control.   Our best results were with ACC disabled.  Our second best results were with ACC set to auto.  When any manual setting was applied on the "+" side of things to improve overclocking - we ran into major stability issues and the lovely BSOD showed itself many times.  Finally we settled on 3.28GHz - an improvement of 360MHz. On this board I could run up to 3.5GHz, but once again Prime95's torture test showed us that it wasn't rock stable.

AOD790GX - Overclocked
AOD790GX - Overclocked

 

I've tried different BIOS revisions on the AOD790GX/128M in order to try and find a stable BIOS that works with ACC.  In the end, most forum posts around the net recommend "Auto" or "Disabled" on the ACC at this point.  When ASRock has it working like it should, I do expect to gain another 100MHz at the very least.

ASRock includes a nice little overclocking tool called "OC Tuner" and it works very well and if you want to check it out in more detail please refer to our review of the K10N78hSLI-WiFi motherboard here.

On the next page we'll start some subsystem tests before we jump into the full-blown benchmarks.