Articles: Mainboards

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Power Consumption

Power consumption is a very important parameter for Mini-ITX systems. It directly affects the overall acoustic performance and energy-efficiency of the system. Moreover, in case of miniature systems even a small change in power consumption may have serious consequences, such as the need for an additional fan or a higher-capacity PSU. That is why we paid special attention to the boards’ power consumption in our today’s test session.

Mainboard makers have great influence over the power consumption of systems based on their products. The key here is the efficiency of the processor voltage regulator circuitry. This is exactly where the engineering expertise really pays off.

The graphs below show the full power draw of the computer (without the monitor) measured after the power supply. It is the total of the power consumption of all the system components. The PSU's efficiency is not taken into account. The CPUs are loaded by running the 64-bit LinX 0.6.4 utility. Graphics cores were loaded using FurMark 1.9 utility. Moreover, we enabled all power-saving technologies and Turbo Boost to ensure that computer power draw in idle mode was measured correctly.

The best results in almost all testing modes belong to two mainboards: Foxconn H67S and Intel DH67CF. Both companies’ engineers worked very hard on optimizing their CPU voltage regulator and really succeeded. In “heavy” modes they managed to save anywhere between 5 and 10 watts, and in idle mode the savings would be just as good. By the way, I have to remind you that Foxconn mainboard doesn’t have any additional onboard controllers, which lowers its power requirements even more. However, Intel platform has everything onboard, that is why its success is even more amazing.

ASRock H67M-ITX/HT also did pretty well, but unfortunately, it turned out very power-hungry in idle mode.

I would like to specifically draw your attention to the results demonstrated by Asus P8H67-I Deluxe. As we said before, this mainboard has a special EPU processor that adjusts the number of active voltage regulator phases and even has special BIOS options for selecting the energy-efficiency level. However, our tests showed that this technology has more marketing than practical effect. The mainboard becomes energy-efficient only under heavy computational load. In idle mode or when the graphics core does most of the work, Asus P8H67-I Deluxe can’t boast any remarkable power consumption readings.

Besides Asus P8H67-I Deluxe, Gigabyte H67N-USB3-B3 and Zotac H67ITX also didn’t do well in power consumption tests. The efficiency of CPU voltage regulators on these mainboards is definitely way beyond what’s need for their target application field, that is why a lot of power is dissipated into thin air. It is a shameful waste for a Mini-ITX system.

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