Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

All performance tests were run on the following test platform:

  • Intel DH57JG mainboard (LGA1156, Intel H57 Express, BIOS version 0537 from  05.12.10);
  • Intel Core i3-540 CPU (3.06 GHz, 133 MHz base clock, 4 MB L3 cache, Clarkdale, 1.025 V Vcore);
  • 2 x 2048 MB OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Blade Series Low Voltage OCZ3B1600LV2GK, (1600 MHz, 6-6-6-24 timings, 1.65 V voltage);
  • HIS HD 5850, H585F1GDG graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 5850, Cypress, 40 nm, 725/4000 MHz, 256-bit GDDR5 1024 MB);
  • Seagate Barracuda XT HDD: ST32000641AS (2 TB, SATA 6 Gbps, 7200 RPM, 64 MB cache);
  • DVD±RW Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7173A optical drive;
  • Scythe Samurai ZZ (SCSMZ-2000) CPU cooler;
  • Zalman CSL 850 thermal interface;
  • OCZ GameXStream OCZGXS700 (700 W) PSU with Zalman ZM-F3 fan;
  • Open testbed.

We used Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.1, Build 7600) operating system, Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility version, ATI Catalyst 10.2 graphics card driver.

Operational Specifics

We didn’t have any problems assembling our testbed. Intel DH57JG worked normally in its nominal mode except for temperature. The problem was that the CPU cooler fan rotated at 300 RPM and was not willing to speed up. As a result, the CPU was always at least 70°C hot and even higher under load. Although this fan management setup is ineffective, it is deliberate. Everyone knows that boxed Intel coolers are noisy at high speeds. In order to keep the noise within reasonable limits, the speed of the CPU cooler fan is restricted by the mainboard to low levels despite the increased temperature. The mainboard’s BIOS offers but primitive fan control options. You can just specify that you use a more or a less effective cooler compared to the standard boxed one. Our Scythe Samurai ZZ is much better than the boxed cooler, but we selected the more aggressive control method as if it were weaker. However, this didn’t bring any benefits to us. The fan speed would increase but for a short period of time, producing a paradoxical situation when the CPU was cooler under load than in idle mode. And then the fan would slow down again to 300-600 RPM, the CPU temperature rising back to 70°C and higher.

We also found a BIOS option that allows controlling the speed of the CPU fan through appropriate software. We literally found it since it had been hidden in the “Maintenance” section which is not visible when you enter the BIOS normally. You need to reset a special jumper to see it. However, we could not change the speed of the fan with the popular SpeedFan utility even after we enabled that BIOS option. The exclusive Intel Desktop Utilities software didn’t offer any fan control settings at all. Here is an illustration: the CPU is as hot as 75°C but the fan speed is still about 350 RPM.

By the way, this warning was issued because we had changed the temperature thresholds for it. By default, the software will only warn you if the CPU temperature rises above 97°C.

There is no pleasure in feeling waves of heat from a computer with an Intel LGA1366 or a six-core AMD processor inside, but you can put up with that because the increased heat dissipation is due to high performance. It is much harder to condone that a mainboard with a rather economical Intel Core i3-540 scorches your fingers. Intel DH57JG is “optimized” for inefficient and noisy boxed coolers from Intel although its user might install a better cooler. As a result, this mainboard is going to keep your CPU in rather harsh thermal conditions.

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