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Power Consumption

We performed our power consumption measurements using an Extech Power Analyzer 380803. This device is connected before the PSU and measures the power draw of the entire system (without the monitor), including the power loss that occurs in the PSU itself. In the idle mode we start the system up and wait until it stops accessing the hard disk. Then we use LinX to load the CPU. For a more illustrative picture there are graphs that show how the computer power consumption grows up depending on the number of active execution threads in LinX (both at the default and overclocked system settings). The mainboards on the diagrams are sorted out in alphabetical order.

We often point out that on many mainboards certain power-saving technologies are disabled by default. Therefore, besides power consumption in nominal mode with all default settings, we also measured the power consumption of test systems with all power-saving technologies (including the proprietary ones) manually enabled. The difference between these two tests is usually quite obvious, but in case of Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 we didn’t detect any differences in power consumption between different operational modes. On the one hand, it is great because it means that all Intel processor power-saving technologies work absolutely correctly here. Unlike many other mainboards, we didn’t see any power-related parameters disabled in the BIOS by default. All of them are preset to Auto and they all work correctly, because enabling them manually by selecting “Enabled” doesn’t produce any changes in system power consumption.

It is an obvious advantage of the board, but the situation with proprietary power-saving technologies still remains unclear. Gigabyte mainboards were the first ones to start using rows of LEDs to indicate the number of active phases in the processor voltage regulator circuitry. However, the new boards do not have these diodes anymore, therefore it is unclear if the proprietary power-saving technologies are actually working. Once they introduced new 3D Power technology, it has finally become possible to configure right in mainboards BIOS Gigabyte’s proprietary power-saving technologies, such as dynamic adjustment of the number of active phases in the processor voltage regulator circuitry depending on the operational load. We replaced the “Auto” setting in the “PWM Phase Control” parameter with “Balanced”, but the power consumption remained the same. Well, it could be that all these technologies also work correctly right from the start. To check this out, we set the same parameter to “Extreme Performance”, which should have increased the power consumption, but nothing happened again. Unfortunately, it means that Gigabyte’s unique power-saving technologies still don’t work. The “PWM Phase Control” parameter doesn’t work and is merely a decoration, so enabling “Balanced” mode doesn’t provide any additional power-savings.

As a result, if we compare the power consumption of all our testing participants in the nominal mode, then Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 is going to be on an average level, if we disregard extremely energy-efficient Intel board consuming significantly less than any other board in our today’s review.

If we turn on all existing power-saving features, then the power consumption of most mainboards drops, but the numbers for Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 remain the same. In idle mode and under small loads it does pretty well, but under heavy loads it suddenly becomes the most power-hungry of all. The difference, of course, is not dramatics, but it obviously lacks those proprietary power-saving technologies that could help her compete successfully against the other boards.

Energy-efficiency looks way better during overclocking. MSI Big Bang-XPower II mainboard is the No.1 here, because we do not increase the CPU Vcore on it during overclocking. Its overclocking results are the lowest of all, that is why it is not surprising that its power consumption in this mode is also the lowest. However, if we compare Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 against ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional, which overclocked the CPU to the same 4.5 GHz, Gigabyte board will be indisputable ahead of ASRock under any type of operational load.

Conclusion

Like any other mainboard, Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 is not totally flawless. Even one of its advantages, such as four graphics card slots supporting 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI configurations may be considered a drawback, because the first slot is located too close to the CPU socket and it may be difficult to use it in systems with large CPU coolers. We also pointed out several concerns and issues uncovered in the BIOS, however, they are also present in other company’s mainboards. Another problem is the board’s inability to overclock our processor to its potential maximum.

However, despite all that we were overall pleased with the Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 mainboard. We didn’t have any serious problems working with it and responded adequately and predictably to all changes in settings. The board performed at an expected level in nominal and overclocked modes, its power consumption is about the same as on the other boards, although we wish its proprietary power-saving technologies worked correctly. Although it is the junior model in the mainboard series based on the Intel X79 Express chipset, it boasts extensive feature set. So, there is no doubt that a lot of users will choose Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 mainboard for their systems for this particular reason.

 
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