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ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review

ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The on-board Radeon HD 3300 VGA powers the HDMI port that's located on the I/O panel of the ASUS M3A78-T motherboard, along with Analog-VGA and DVI display outputs. The HDMI port can output High Definition content at 1080p.
 81% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ASUS Feb 26 2009   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ASUS M3A78-T

Testing 1080P HD Video Playback

No one can deny that high definition content has been warmly embraced, but what with the success of Blue Ray, today's mainstream media center PCs need HD decoding acceleration like never before. AMD hope to address HD decoding in the 790GX chipset with its 'Unified Video Decoder'. UVD directs HD playback decoding to the integrated Radeon HD 3200 GPU, rather than to the AMD processor, allowing the system to playback VC-1, MPEG-2 and H.264 content up to 1080p resolution with less CPU usage.

On the rear I/O of the ASUS M3A78-T motherboard there are HDMI, DVI-D and analog VGA connectors. The DVI and HDMI ports are HDCP compliant, while the latter supports audio streams.

Overall, all HD playback was smooth and uninterrupted, and showed no visible artifacting or visual anomalies. First up are the Blu-Ray playback tests and then HDD based HD 720p/1080i content playback. The goal of both rounds of testing is low overall CPU utilization.

PCSTATS Benchmark Report Blu-Ray High Definition Content Playback Tests

Blu-Ray High Definition content demands a lot of PC processing resources during playback, if CPU load becomes too high that can lead to jittery video quality or other artifacts. Many integrated graphics processors now feature Blu-Ray and High Definition H.264, VC1 and M-PEG2 content acceleration decoders to offload this processing from the CPU, freeing up system resources for other tasks.

The PCSTATS Blu-Ray HD content playback test scenario monitors average CPU utilization. It's simple and to the point. The motherboard's integrated graphics processor is taxed in the same way it would be in your home theatre environment, and average percent CPU utilization monitored with Windows task manager. Lower CPU utilization values are best, provided video playback remains smooth and stutter free.

How PCSTATS Tests: Each integrated graphics motherboard is connected to an ASUS MK241 wide screen 1920x1200 (1080P) resolution LCD display with an HDMI cable. The Blu-Ray movie "10,000 BC" (VC1 encrypted) is then played back from Chapter 22 on an ASUS BC-1205PT Blu-ray combo drive, using WinDVD Platinum software and the average fluctuation of CPU load recorded.

Motherboard Core Logic IGP Blu-Ray Playback
CPU Utilization

Video Playback
@ 1080p Quality

Intel DG45ID (Intel G45) Intel GMA X4500HD 32% - 38% No issues
ASUS P5Q-EM (Intel G45) Intel GMA X4500HD 38% No issues
Biostar Tpower N750 (nVidia nForce 750a) Nforce 750a 18% - 20% No issues
ASUS M3A78T (AMD 790GX) AMD HD3300 6% - 9% No issues
Foxconn A7DA-S (AMD 790GX) AMD HD3300 14% - 24% No issues

The AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition CPU is barely taxed when doing Blu-ray playback on the ASUS M3A78-T motherboard. Having a Radeon HD 3300 and an extra core available brings the overall CPU usage to negligible levels as compared to the Foxconn A7DA-S motherboard.

Hard Drive 720p/1080i Video Playback

Playing high definition content on current generation PCs can bog down even the fastest processors because there is more data to handle. To test the integrated graphics processor's capabilities at HD content accelerating capabilities, we played the High Definition video clip, "The Discoverers" at 720P and 1080i from the hard drive while monitoring the percentage of CPU utilization through Task Manager. Lower results are better.

PCSTATS Benchmark ReportHDD 720p/1080i Video Playback (Discoverers Video Clip)
720P (Avg): Percent CPU Utilization Ranking
Intel DG45ID (Onboard G45 ) 17
ASUS P5Q-EM (Onboard G45 ) 9
ASUS M3A78-T (onboard HD 3300 video) 17
Foxconn A7DA-S (onboard HD 3300 video) 30
ECS A780GM-A (Onboard HD 3200 Video 30
Foxconn A690GM2MA-RS2H (Onboard Video) 35
Biostar Tpower N750 (onboard nF 750a video) 24
Biostar TF8200 A2+ (onboard GF 8200 video) 60
1080i (Avg): Percent CPU Utilization Ranking
Intel DG45ID (Onboard G45 ) 20
ASUS P5Q-EM (Onboard G45 ) 12
ASUS M3A78-T (onboard HD 300 video) 22
Foxconn A7DA-S (onboard HD 3300 video) 49
ECS A780GM-A (Onboard HD 3200 Video 53
Foxconn A690GM2MA-RS2H (Onboard Video) 49
Biostar Tpower N750 (onboard nF 750a video) 18
Biostar TF8200 A2+ (onboard GF 8200 video) 64

A combination of moving to a faster triple core processor and switching vendors from Foxconn to ASUS brings a dramatic reduction in overall processor load for the AMD 790GX chipset.

Let's take a look at the ASUS M3A78-T's impact on power consumption next - could all this processor power turn into higher power consumption?

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Contents of Article: ASUS M3A78-T
 Pg 1.  ASUS M3A78-T AMD 790GX Socket AM2+ Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Testing 1080P HD Video Playback
 Pg 3.  Total System Power Draw Comparisons
 Pg 4.  ASUS M3A78-T Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 5.  AMD 790GX Chipset - Videocard or IGP?
 Pg 6.  Overclocking the AMD 790GX and the BIOS
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007, Sandra 2009
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 9.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark06
 Pg 10.  Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, FEAR
 Pg 11.  DX10 Motherboard IGP Benchmarks: Call of Juarez, Crysis
 Pg 12.  ASUS M3A78-T - Everything to Everyone?

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