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’s power consumption grows up depending on the number of active execution threads in LinX (both at the default and overclocked system settings). The mainboards are sorted in alphabetical order on the diagrams.
Working at the default settings, the MSI mainboards do not differ much from the others in terms of their power consumption irrespective of CPU load. The Elitegroup mainboards have high power consumption, probably due to an imperfect CPU voltage regulator design. The Gigabyte mainboards also need more power than average because some CPU-integrated power-saving technologies do not work fully on them by default.
We have a different picture during overclocking because the MSI mainboards, unlike the others, cannot keep the power-saving technologies up and running, which makes them consume more power at low CPU loads.
Interestingly, the MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) is somewhat more economical than its cousin across every test mode. The integrated graphics core was not active during the tests and we used a discrete graphics card only. But when we enabled the integrated graphics, the mainboard’s power consumption remained roughly the same.
We are quite pleased with the MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) mainboard we’ve just tested. It is a cleverly designed product, the 6-pin power connector for graphics cards being the only questionable solution. It offers a full selection of interfaces including eSATA, USB 3.0, SATA 6 Gbps and IEEE1394 (FireWire). The only interface that’s missing is Power eSATA. It supports AMD CrossFireX and Nvidia SLI. It has video outputs, so you can use not only Intel Smart Response, like on the Gigabyte mainboards we tested earlier, but also LucidLogix Virtu, which is yet another special feature of the new Intel Z68 Express chipset. MSI Click BIOS isn’t exceptional and can’t match ASUS EFI BIOS, yet it is not as unsuccessful as Elitegroup’s UEFI BIOS implementation. We were somewhat disappointed with the somewhat strange operation of the exclusive APS technology but the latter works well in default mode together with CPU-integrated power-saving technologies, unlike Gigabyte mainboards, for example.
We should note that it is only with the MSI mainboards that we managed to reach both a high CPU frequency and a high memory clock rate and also use low memory timings. However, despite the great results, we have a few comments about overclocking implementation. When MSI’s exclusive power-saving technologies are disabled in overclocked mode, it is a pity, but it is the developer’s right to do so. It is most likely done for a good reason, such as ensuring system stability during overclocking. But we are really frustrated that the overclocked MSI mainboard disables the power-saving features of the Intel CPUs as well. As a result, your CPU is going to consume more power than necessary if you overclock it on an MSI mainboard. Well, if this is a big issue for you, you can switch to another brand until MSI is able to provide at least the same functionality during overclocking as the mainboards from some other makers.