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Performance, Overclocking and Power Consumption

We are going to test MSI P45 Platinum mainboard in an open testbed built with the following components:

  • Mainboard: MSI P45 Platinum, MS-7512, BIOS 1.0-1.3;
  • CPUs:
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.0GHz, 333MHz FSB, 6MB, Wolfdale, rev. C0);
    • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 (2.5GHz, 333MHz FSB, 6MB, Yorkfield, rev. M1);
  • Memory: 2x1024MB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D;
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB;
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (ST3320620AS) - 7200RPM, 16MB, SATA 320GB;
  • CPU cooler: Zalman CNPS9700 LED;
  • PSU: Antec NeoPower HE 550 (550W).

Let’s start with the good things first: power-saving technologies of MSI P45 Platinum. If you enable GreenPower in the mainboard BIOS, you will see the effect right away: the number of lit LEDs indicating the number of active phases in the CPU voltage regulator circuitry will go from 5 to 1 or 2. If the workload increases, so will the number of active phases, but it will not usually exceed 4. I could only see five lit LEDs when running IntelBurnTest on the overclocked system. Memory will also switch to single-phase power supply using the second phase occasionally. As for the chipset North Bridge, it seems to be always using both phases of its voltage regulator, because the two LEDs are always on.

LEDs are great, but what are the real numbers of this power-saving effect? ASUS and Gigabyte mainboards use similar technologies, however the relative estimates we have come across so far were around 50% or even 80%. Seems pretty impressive at first glance, but if the power consumption is only 1W then the savings will be 0.8W, which you will barely notice. However, it is for the first time that we in fact saw a real value of 7W mentioned in MSI marketing materials. A saving like that will be really hard to overlook especially with a device we use in our labs for that matter: Extech Power Analyzer 380803.

The measuring technique is fairly simple. As you already know, Extech Power Analyzer measures the power consumption of the entire system without the monitor. At first we booted Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 OS, waited for all the activity to stop and then took the idle reading. After that we launched FPU test from S&M utility and took the reading in burn mode. The tests were performed with GreenPower disabled and then enabled in the MSI P45 Platinum mainboard BIOS. All the results are summed up in the table below:

The results prove that the power-saving technologies on MSI P45 Platinum allow saving about 5-6W of power in idle more as well as under workload. GreenPower technology from MSI has a few significant advantages compared with the similar technologies from ASUS and Gigabyte. First of all, GreenPower doesn’t require any additional utilities, just enable it in the mainboard BIOS. Secondly, all power-saving technologies will work on MSI mainboards even if the CPU has been overclocked.

MSI P45 Platinum can adjust the system power consumption automatically depending on the workload. If you want to be in control and participate in the process, you may install GreenPower Center utility. Unfortunately, there is no separate installer for it, so it will be installed together with MSI CoreCenter utility.

We are already familiar with MSI CoreCenter from the previous reviews. Just check out our article called DDR2 or DDR3: MSI P35 Platinum Combo Mainboard Review. The utility will launch automatically at start-up. After that you will see a new button with a logo looking like an apple and a power-on button at the same time right beneath the D.O.T. This button launches the GreenPower Center:

This utility controls different aspects of CPU, memory and chipset North Bridge functioning, such as temperatures, number of active voltage regulator phases and, of course, power consumption. You may optimize the parameters automatically, or set them manually, you may even switch to extreme savings mode by settings the voltages below their nominal values. You can save the settings profile and the utility will keep pleasing your sight with the power savings in watts and percentage.

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