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ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO and M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 Motherboards Review

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lemonlime

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


Both the “M” and “V” models employ the very familiar AMI BIOS common to most ASUS boards. Aside from some very minor voltage differences, the “M” and “V” BIOS is essentially the same, so we won’t duplicate all of the screenshots. Under the System Information section, all of the processor and memory vitals can be observed, along with the amount of memory that the IGP has taken for its own uses.


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As with all ASUS boards most of the fun settings can be found within the “Jumper Free” menu. We quite like the way ASUS grouped settings logically in a tree-type view that automatically hides additional settings related to those left at “auto”. The integrated GPU can be overclocked from this menu as well as the usual CPU multiplier, base clock frequency, NB multiplier etc.

Selectable Voltages Ranges:
  • CPU Voltage: 1.025V – 1.700V (1.9V with OV_CPU jumper moved out of default position - M4A785TD-V only)
  • VDDNB (CPU Northbridge): 0.800V – 1.550V
  • CPU VDDA: 2.50V – 2.80V
  • Memory Voltage: 1.500V – 2.310V
  • Chipset: 1.100V – 1.600V

All of the voltage settings that the majority of buyers would care about are accounted for, including CPU-NB voltage and chipset voltage. The ranges are quite good considering the EVO’s budget price. It is unlikely that anyone would want any more than 1.55V on the CPU, let alone 1.7V and it is nice to see that DDR3 voltage can be increased enough to seriously damage most modules. Not that we want anyone damaging their modules, but it is always strangely exciting that know that you could! On the other end of the spectrum, we were also pleased to see that CPU voltage can be “undervolted” to as low as 1V for those interested in super-quiet or super-cool computing.

Those looking to tweak their DDR3 have CPU-NB voltage adjustments up to a healthy 1.55V, which is plenty. So in other words, this EVO won’t be holding you back due to limited voltage adjustments. As with most new boards, the EVOs allow very small incremental increases so that you can get your set points just right. We’ll check to see just how accurate some of these voltage set points are with a digital multimeter later on in the review.

It was also interesting to see a selectable percentage for “LoadLine Calibration”. This feature helps to prevent voltage droop at full load. Most boards we’ve seen has an “On/Off” setting for this, so it is interesting to see that varying degrees of load line calibration can be used. We’ll be testing to see just how effective this is later on.


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There is certainly no shortage of DRAM timing adjustments either. Everything from “CAS Latency” to a whole slew of other secondary timing options can be specified. Most buyers will have no desire to tinker beyond the usual CAS-tRCD-tRP-tRAS settings that usually need to be set with higher end DDR3, but it is nice to know the other options are there for maximum memory tuning performance. The usual memory “dividers” can be selected as well for 1066, 1333 or 1600MHz operation.


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Under the “CPU Configuration” menu, C1E and Cool’n’Quiet settings can be found, as well as the “Secure Virtual Machine” setting that was strangely left disabled by default. Those interested in running VMWare player for folding purposes will have to enable this. Most interesting of all though, is the Advanced Clock Calibration setting and a strange setting called “Unleashing Mode”. Anyone familiar with Deneb core unlocking has likely already guessed what these are for. We’ll discuss core unlocking in the “Deneb Unlocking” section.


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Additional memory configuration options can be found in the “Memory Configuration” section. These settings generally don’t need to be touched unless you want to run your memory controller in “Ganged” mode, or mess with bank interleaving. Ninety nine perfect of buyers will only touch settings in the “Jumper Free” section.

Under the “Internal Graphics” section, we find some interesting settings relating to the IGP and sideport memory. There is surprisingly quite a bit of tweaking that can be done here including overvolting the sideport, increasing the sideport frequency as well as increasing the UMA frame buffer (shared main memory). The sideport memory, and even the UMA can be enabled or disabled.


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Under the “Power” tab, we find the useful “Hardware Monitor” screen. Here, we can see CPU and “MB” temperature readings, as well as fan RPM and voltage readings. Interestingly, ASUS Smart Q-FAN allows a “Fan Auto Mode Start Voltage” setting. This is very useful, as some fans won’t start unless a minimum voltage is applied. For those not familiar with Q-FAN, the CPU fan header can operate at a lower voltage until a certain CPU temperature is reached. Once that temperature threshold is exceeded, the fan runs at it’s full 12V. With Q-FAN disabled, the CPU fan operates at 12V at all times.


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One great ASUS feature that we miss on the EVO boards is the “OC Profile” menu. Unlike some higher end models, multiple BIOS setting profiles cannot be saved and reloaded on demand. We were pleased to see ASUS continue with their great “EZ Flash 2” flashing application that allows flashing ROM files from a USB stick, or even from your PC’s hard drive. No more trying to find a bootable floppy disk! – What is a floppy disk?

You’ll also notice that the ASUS EVO boards support “Express Gate”. Express Gate is a pre-boot “instant on” Linux operating system that allows access to the basics – like a web browser and photo viewer. Since this is not a new feature, and is featured on many ASUS products, we won’t get too far into it for this review. We’d like to refer you to our coverage of the ASUS M4A78T-E if you’d like to see Express Gate in action.

We should note that Express Gate is set to “AUTO” by default, even if it is not installed, which will increase boot time significantly. If you don’t plan to use it, you should definitely disable the feature within the BIOS.
 
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lemonlime

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Test Setup and Methodologies

Test Setup and Methodologies

AMD Testing Configuration:
  • AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition (3.1GHz) – 0922APMW Stepping
  • Noctua NH-U12P Heatsink with 1300RPM Noctua NF-P12 (200CFM Delta for overclocking tests)
  • ASUS M4A785TD-V and ASUS M4A785TD-M Motherboards
  • 2x2048 OCZ Platinum “Low Voltage” DDR3, 1600MHz @ 7-7-7 rated
  • Western Digital 320GB SATA2 Hard Drive (WD3200AAKS, 7200RPM)
  • Integrated Radeon 4200 Series Graphics
  • Corsair TX750 Power Supply
  • Pioneer Optical Drive

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OS/Driver Configuration:

For our testing today, we’ll be using Windows Vista Ultimate x64 Edition. Although Vista brings some interesting performance enhancing features to the table – like SuperFetch for example – these features can cause inconsistencies in benchmark results. Some reviewers prefer to 'train' their systems to make the most of these features, but we have disabled them to ensure a higher degree of predictability. Other 'scheduled' or unnecessary background tasks have also been disabled (as listed below).

OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit), Service Pack 2

ATI Drivers: Catalyst 9.11

OS Disabled Features: “SuperFetch”, “Windows Search” service, Windows Defender, Windows Sidebar, Scheduled Defragmentation, System Restore Services and UAC.

OS Performance Features Enabled: “High Performance” power management profile is enabled. This prevents the system from reducing CPU frequency at the operating system level and also prevents HDD spin-down and other events that may impact benchmark results.


Without further ado, let’s see how these boards overclock!
 
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lemonlime

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Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results

First and foremost, if you are completely new to Phenom II overclocking we highly recommend that you check out our article on the subject, aptly titled "Hardware Canucks: Benchmarkers Guide to the Phenom II". Although it is limited to the AM2+ versions, the fundamentals remain the same as with the new Phenom II AM3 processors.

For our overclocking tests today, we’ll be sticking with our Phenom II X2 550 dual-core processor. Based upon the same silicone as the popular top-end X4 955, this chip has quite a bit of overclocking headroom in it.

Let’s see how it does in the two EVO boards.


M4A785TD-V

Maximum Core Overclock


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The M4A785TD-V took our X2 550 sample to new limits. We had no difficulty achieving a maximum core clock speed of about 4036MHz for more than a 900Mhz increase. Thanks to ASUS’ great LLC implementation, vCORE values were rock solid and accurate. This certainly helped to squeeze every last MHz out of the processor. We achieved a very similar overclock with our higher-end MSI 790FX-GD70, but couldn’t quite break 4GHz with it. There is no doubt in our minds that cooling and the CPU itself are the limiting factors at this point, not the M4A785TD-V EVO.


Maximum Bus Overclock

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The M4A785TD-V did not disappoint when it comes to Bus overclocking. It was able to hit an incredible 352MHz, making it an excellent board for pushing standard – i.e. not Black Edition – processors to their limits. We should note that the board had absolutely no issues posting and booting into Windows at this 352MHz mark, which is fantastic. Many boards – including higher end models – often required increases in reference clock frequency within windows to avoid post and boot-up issues.

Amazingly, with a reference clock this high, our memory was pushing beyond 700MHz using the 400MHz divider! Only a tiny boost in chipset voltage was required to reach this frequency. Beyond 352MHz, we were greeted by a pretty hard limit. Even with a 1MHz increase, Prime95 would fail almost instantly.


Maximum Memory Overclock

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Unfortunately, we hit a very hard wall at about 730MHz when trying to push the memory frequency. CPU-NB voltage increases and other tweaks didn’t help and neither did reducing the NB frequency and HTT frequency. It didn’t matter if we tried 8-8-8 or 6-6-6 timings, it wouldn’t budge. This has almost nothing to do with the board, but rather the weak integrated memory controller in the CPU. We saw similar issues when testing with this processor on the MSI 790FX-GD70, as well as with another CPU on an ASUS M4A89T-E. Advertised features like 1800MHz+ memory overclocking on AM3 boards should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Socket AM3 memory overclocks are almost always severely IMC limited. Definitely avoid purchasing DDR3 2000MHz kits and other high-rated kits on AM3 platforms as they’ll never live up to their potential.

In our experience, the best strategy is to keep timings as tight as possible and reduce the memory frequency. As you can see, we were able to keep timings nice and tight at 6-6-5 while maintaining a decent clock speed. This is an unfortunate reality of AMD’s relatively new entry into the DDR3 market. We’re hoping that as the platform matures, higher memory clock speeds will become a reality.


Maximum IGP Overclock

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We were extremely surprised by the massive amount of headroom in the Radeon 4200 core. At one point, we had to go and validate our results as we didn’t believe these clocks to be accurate. We managed an incredible 104% overclock, able to run the IGP at 1020MHz, up from 500MHz. To do this, we had to run a small fan over the IGP heatsink and sideport memory to counteract the significant voltage increases. The sideport memory didn’t seem to have a whole lot of headroom, but we still were able to manage a 20% boost to 1607MHz. We’ll see just what kind of improvement this overclock can bring in the benchmarking section of the review.

We should also mention that the GPU NOS application is an excellent tool. It made GPU overclocking a snap, and was completely bug and oddity free.


Overclocking Results – M4A785TD-M


Maximum CPU Core


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The “M” did almost as well as the “V”, and pushed our X2 550 to the brink of 4GHz – just 37MHz shy of the “V”. This is quite an accomplishment for a compact little mATX board with half the power delivery phases.

We didn't bother doing any stability testing on system memory as once again, we were faced with the exact same 730MHz memory wall imposed by our integrated memory controller. The “M” faired exactly the same as the “V” as shown above.


Maximum Bus Clock

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Once again, we were thoroughly impressed by the bus overclocking capability of these boards. The "M" was able to acheive the exact same 352MHz clock that the "V" did. This is very impressive - especially for an mATX board.


Maximum IGP Clock

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We saw a pretty different scenario when it comes to IGP clocking on the “M”. For some odd reason, ASUS decided to use a different brand of DDR3, and as a result, it overclocks like crazy. We literally maxed out the slider to 2000MHz. Very nice! Unfortunately though, we weren’t as lucky on the GPU core as we were with the “V”. It tops out a bit beyond 800MHz even with increased voltage. The limitation could be thermal in nature, as the “M” employs a much smaller chipset cooler, but this sort of thing is always “luck of the draw”. None the less, this is still a huge improvement over the default 500/1333MHz.
 
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lemonlime

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AMD Deneb Core Unlocking

AMD Deneb Core Unlocking

AMD didn’t just stop at making unlocked multipliers available to enthusiasts in their “Black Edition” processors, but also “accidentally” – please note the quotations there – allowed the disabled cores of the X3 and X2 Phenom II processors to be enabled using a special combination of BIOS settings. Having the ability to unlock the disabled cores can drastically increase the CPU power on-tap; potentially much more so than overclocking alone.

Unlocking a Phenom II X2 or X3 processor requires three things: An unlockable CPU, disabled cores that can operate with stability and last but not least, a motherboard and BIOS that supports it. We should definitely note up front that core unlocking is luck-of-the-draw. Not all Phenom II X2 and X3 CPUs can be unlocked as various steppings produced at varying times will have varying results. Just like getting a CPU that overclocks well, finding an unlockable one is luck of the draw.

One thing that is very controllable however is selecting a motherboard that allows core unlocking. Thankfully, most enthusiast grade – and quite a few value offerings – include support for this undocumented feature. Some support this right out of the box, and others may require a BIOS flash to work.

We just so happen to have an “unlockable” Phenom II X2 550 in our possession with the popular 0922APMW stepping code. Not only has this processor tested to be a very decent overclocker, but also fully stable with all four cores unlocked. We’ll be putting the two ASUS EVO boards through their paces to see just how they fair with our 550 sample.

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Unlocking Deneb core CPUs is extremely easy on both the “M” and “V” models. Simply turn “ACC” to “Auto” and then enable one of the “Unleashing modes”. As an added benefit, buyers can enable three cores instead of four. So even if a full unlock is not possible due to a bad core, there is still the possibility of unlocking to an X3! And not only can you turn your X2 550 into a triple core, but you can even decide which cores to turn on. This is definitely a great feature.


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We experienced no oddities of any sort. The unlocked quad was solid as a rock.


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And as if that wasn’t enough, we gave our “new” quad a run for it’s money on the M4A785TD-V EVO and ended up with a 3919MHz clock. Not too shabby!
 
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lemonlime

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Memory Benchmarks

Memory Benchmarks

Since we hit a pretty hard wall when overclocking the memory on our Phenom II processor, we’ll show you the impact of tightening timings and increasing northbridge frequency. These alternatives can have a significant impact on memory subsystem performance.


Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking utility provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system.

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As you can see, nothing impacts memory performance as much as northbridge clock frequency. In our experience, just about any Phenom II should be able to reach 2.4GHz, and with some extra volts, 2.6+ should be achievable. So before you go stressing out trying to get your DDR3 running at 1600MHz, try to boost your NB frequency first. The move from 7-7-7 to 6-6-6 timings did surprisingly little for memory bandwidth.

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We see a very similar picture painted with respect to latency. Northbridge frequency increases make significant improvements.
 
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lemonlime

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Synthetic Benchmarks

Synthetic Benchmarks

To see just what kind of impact those wonderful overclocks and performance tweaks made, we ran through a small suite of synthetic benchmarks.


SuperPi Mod v1.5

When running the SuperPI 1M benchmark, we are calculating Pi to one million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. Rather than timing the 32M process, which is frequently used for testing stability, we’ll stick with the 1M test that is more familiar to benchmarkers.

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Unlike most modern benchmarks, SuperPI is not multi-threaded. It favors raw number crunching, single core efficiency. Memory performance does play a role in SPI results. As expected, the 4GHz dual core configuration comes ahead.


PCMark Vantage X64

The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general over view of how your system is performing. For our results, we stuck with the TV and Movies test suite, which is taxing on the CPU and RAM.

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Clearly a multi-threaded test, PCMark Vantage “TV and Movies” greatly favors the quad-core configuration. The boost from two extra cores is not linear, however. The 900MHz overclock in a 2-core configuration didn’t buy a whole lot of extra points surprisingly.


Cinebench R10 64-Bit

Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders. For our testing today, we’ll be using the multi-core rendering option only.

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Unlike PCMark Vantage “TV and Movies”, boosts in CPU clock speed can make a significant difference in Cinebench. Performance with additional cores increases linearly as workload is evenly distributed across all cores. What an incredible performance boost due entirely to overclocking and unlocking!


Lavalys Everest Ultimate v5.02 – Zlib Compression

Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all benchmarkers or overclockers. With the ability to pick up most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking utility provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system. To test processing horsepower, we ran the Zlib compression test, which is hard on both the CPU and memory subsystems.

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In the Zlib compression benchmark, we see an almost identical trend to Cinebench. More cores can’t be beat in terms of additional computing horsepower in a multi-threaded scenario like this.
 
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lemonlime

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IGP Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks


Crysis 1.2

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We benchmarked Crysis using the “Crysis Benchmark Tool 1.0” and chose the “assault” timedemo to ensure that there was a heavy GPU load. Tests were conducted with all IQ settings at “Low” and a resolution of 1024x768.

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“But can it play Crysis?” Who would have thought we’d ever see 30+ FPS in Crysis on an integrated graphics platform. Granted we had to overclock the snot out of it to achieve this, but even without an overclock, the game was decently playable.



Half-Life 2: Episode 2

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It’s pretty hard to believe that it’s been over three years since the release of Half-Life 2. Since then, Valve has made numerous graphical improvements to the source engine and included them in the Episode Two release. To test, we created a custom timedemo with plenty of physics and mayhem in the “Outland” portion of the game. The timedemo was played back three times and an average framerate taken. All visual details were set to “Medium” quality, and the timedemos run at a resolution of 1280x1024.

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Not too shabby for integrated graphics! Even without an overclock, Episode 2 was very playable. Valve’s “Source” engine games generally do well on lesser hardware, while continuing to look great.



Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

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Lost Planet is a graphically demanding game released by CAPCOM. For testing, we set resolution to 1024x768 and IQ settings to “Low”. Both the “Snow” and “Cave” tests were looped three times, and the average framerate taken.

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Although Lost Planet isn’t terribly new anymore, it is still quite taxing on video hardware. The game as a bit choppy without overclocking the 785G, but was quite playable once overclocked.



World In Conflict

World in conflict is a strategy title from Sierra. For our tests, we set detail to “Low” and resolution to 1280x1024. The internal benchmarking tool was utilized and done three times so that an average could be obtained.

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Once again, we see big gains from overclocking. At the “Low” IQ, the game may not look quite as pretty, but it was completely playable at this resolution.



Futuremark 3DMark06

The Futuremark 3DMark series has been a part of the backbone in computer and hardware reviews since its conception. The trend continues today as 3DMark06 provides consumers with a solid synthetic benchmark geared for performance and comparison in the 3D gaming realm. This remains one of the most sought after statistics, as well as an excellent tool for accurate CPU comparison, and it will undoubtedly be used for years to come.

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It wouldn’t be a graphics test without the requisite 3DMark 2006 scores. A couple of years ago, some discrete cards scored in this range. It is hard to believe we’re looking at IGP scores. As you can see the overclocks made a significant impact.
 
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lemonlime

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Voltage and Thermal Testing

Voltage and Thermal Testing

Most people don’t realize that stable system power is the responsibility of more than just the PSU. A motherboard is essentially a complex power supply on its own, converting 12V and other supplied voltages to the required outputs for various system components. We’ll be validating the M4A785TD-V’s “dialed in” voltages in the BIOS using a digital multimeter.


M4A785TD-V EVO

For this particular test, we enabled all four cores on our CPU and left the frequency at the default 3.1GHz.
First and foremost, we’d like to say just how fantastic ASUS’ load calibration options are. Not only can you enable LLC, but you can fine tune it to your liking.

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As you can see above, we fiddled with LLC until we got to a point of almost zero droop. The magic number for us was the 19% setting. Not only can droop be completely eliminated with the M4A785TD-V, but voltage set points are quite accurate as well. For those curious, the “AUTO” setting is actually 51% LLC.

We noticed that several software applications, including CPU-Z display a fair bit of vCORE variability with a constant load on the CPU, but this was not the case when reading from a DMM. Please take software readings with a grain of salt as this board rocks out some very stable CPU power – even at above 1.6V.

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It is unfortunate that ASUS doesn’t provide more information on their LLC setting, as it was a bit confusing to us at first. One would assume that 100% LLC means that vdroop should be eliminated. As you can see above, the opposite was true. Setting this to 100% makes voltage droop horribly – even at idle. A setting of 1.65V only yields 1.493V in actuality. Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum yields the opposite problem. Voltage actually increases with load instead of drooping. So if you don’t feel like tinkering with LLC, go ahead and dial in the magical number of 19%.

ASUS’ implementation of LLC makes the M4A785TD-V an excellent choice for those looking to overclock their quads.


M4A785TD-M EVO

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Voltage regulation on the M4A785TD-M was equally impressive, thanks to similar LLC functionality as well.



Thermal Performance

To test the effectiveness of the EVO passive cooling solutions, we conducted some basic temperature measurements using a digital thermometer. Although there are built-in temperature probes on both the “M” and “V”, we were unable to determine their exact location and questioned their accuracy. We attached our probe to the heatsink on the 785G heatsink, Southbridge as well as the MOSFETS area. All clock frequencies were left at their default values for this particular test. Ambient temperature was a cool 18 degrees Celsius thanks to December weather in Toronto

Full system load was achieved using Prime95 “Large FFT” testing while “Furmark” was run to get the integrated GPU all toasty. For the best effect, we wanted to measure temperatures in a less than ideal cooling environment. To accomplish this, we disconnected our Tech-Station side fan, and let the motherboard heatsinks run entirely passively. Our Noctua NH-U12P provides a small amount of collateral airflow to the MOSFET heatsink, but very little in comparison to a case with good circulation. Do note that this is a worst case scenario.

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As expected, the smaller heatsinks on the “M” don’t quite cope as well as the full-sized “V”. None the less, all heatsinks did their job admirably, getting very hot to the touch at full load. Although this may not sound like a positive thing, it is because heat is successfully transferring from the chip, through the interface material and into the heatsink.
 
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lemonlime

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Conclusion - M4A785TD-V EVO

Conclusion - M4A785TD-V EVO

If we had to sum up the M4A785TD-V EVO in a single sentence, we’d have to say the following: The M4A785TD-V EVO is an awesome board at an awesome price!

First and foremost, the overall layout of the “V” is good. We encountered no issues to speak of, and large tower heatsinks and full-length video cards do not obstruct any of the board’s components. We’d also have to say that ASUS M4A785TD-V is very solidly built. We were pleased to see 8+2 phase power considering the board’s price point, and solid capacitors all around. The “V” also employs a copper PCB layer to improve thermals, which is an added bonus along with well sized and effective heatsinks were also placed on key components, including board MOSFETs.

The real surprises however really came in the M4A785TD-V’s overclocking and tweaking abilities. ASUS did a great job of the retail BIOS, and unlocking Deneb core CPUs is a piece of cake. Not only can you unlock them, but you can decide just what cores you’d like to enable and disable for greater control. We were also very impressed by ASUS’ load line calibration in the “V”. Put simply, it can be fine tuned to any degree of vdroop desired. These features, coupled with a very solid power delivery system made overclocking with the “V” a very pleasurable experience. We were able to push our X2 550 well beyond 4GHz, and could even achieve reference clocks beyond 350MHz which good news for those without Black Edition processors.

We were also thoroughly impressed by AMD’s 785G and the Radeon 4200 IGP. Although it’s gaming performance is nowhere near discrete card levels, it is certainly isn’t what most have come to expect from integrated graphics. Although we look forward to the next generation of IGP from AMD, those interested in taking the 4200 core to the next level won’t be disappointed. With a bit of active cooling and some extra voltage, we were literally able to double it’s clock frequency from 500MHz to 1020MHz and significantly improved it’s performance. The included sideport memory is also a nice bonus that also sports some overclocking headroom.

And finally, we couldn’t leave out without mentioning some of the extra features we wouldn’t expect in a board of this price. Support for both 1394 (FireWire), HDMI 1.3, DVI and even optical digital video output were nice to find. Even the software utility bundle was exceptional. The Turbo-V, GPU-NOS and Probe II applications all worked flawlessly and brought new levels of control to the operating system that we’re not used to seeing.

In conclusion – in case you haven’t already guessed – we were very pleased with the M4A785TD-V. It is not every day that a $100 motherboard really stands head and shoulders above dozens of others in it’s price range. We’re pleased to award the M4A785TD-V EVO with Hardware Canucks’ “DAM GOOD” and “DAM GOOD VALUE” awards.


Pros:

- All solid capacitors and 2oz copper PCB
- Very capable IGP solution, VGA, DVI and HDMI 1.3 output
- Included 1394 support – rare in budget priced boards.
- 8+2 Phase CPU power design that supports 140W CPUs
- Very effective and tweakable load-line-calibration! Solid voltage regulation.
- Excellent overclocker – took our X2 550 to new limits.
- 352MHz reference clock achieved!
- Incredible IGP overclocking headroom with a 104% OC achieved.
- Easy to unlock Deneb processors and good unlocking options.
- Retail BIOS is very solid, easy to navigate and bug free.
- Probe II, GPU-NOS and Turbo-V are all excellent applications
- Excellent price at only $100 CDN and easy to find


Cons:

- Weak accessory bundle
- No onboard power/reset or clear CMOS buttons (we’re getting really picky here)


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lemonlime

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Conclusion - M4A785TD-M EVO

Conclusion - M4A785TD-M EVO

We loved the M4A785TD-V EVO, and we were equally impressed by it’s little brother, the M4A785TD-M EVO.

Considering the board’s compact nature, we found it’s layout to be very good. There were no obstructions with large heatsink tower coolers as well as dual slot, full-length video cards. It’s heatsinks are also very low profile and kept out of the way.

Perhaps the most unexpected surprise the “M” brought to the table was it’s very capable overclocking ability. Giving Phenom II processors a stable 1.55V, unlocking cores and booting into Windows at a 352MHz reference frequency are not the first things that come to mind with mATX boards – but the M4A785TD-M does just that. This is an awesome little tweaker board. Those interested in an inexpensive, overclocker-friendly AM3 board for SFF purposes won’t be disappointed with the M4A785TD-M EVO.

We were also thoroughly impressed by AMD’s 785G and the Radeon 4200 IGP. Although it’s gaming performance is nowhere near discrete card levels, it is certainly isn’t what most have come to expect from integrated graphics. Those interested in pushing the IGP will be pleased to know that we managed an 800MHz core clock, coupled with an awesome 2000MHz sideport DDR3 clock. This did require quite a bit of overvoltage and some active cooling on the 785G heatsink, but an excellent result none the less.

About the only thing we found a tad disappointing were the heatsinks on the 785G/SB710 and the lack of a MOSFET heatsink. Given this board’s excellent overclocking abilities, we couldn’t help but think it a disservice to outfit it with such a compact cooling system. With that said, we should definitely clarify that the cooling system is more than sufficient for a stock or mildly overclocked system.

And finally, we couldn’t leave out mentioning some of the extra features we wouldn’t expect in a board of this price. Support for both 1394 (FireWire), HDMI 1.3, DVI and even optical digital video output were nice to find. The GPU-NOS and Probe II applications were also a nice addition, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t bundle with TurboV.

In conclusion, we loved the M4A785TD-M EVO. At a sub-$100 pricepoint, you simply can’t find a better mATX AM3 motherboard. As such, we’re pleased to award it with the Hardware Canucks’ “DAM GOOD VALUE” award.


Pros:

- All solid capacitors and 2oz copper PCB
- Good overall layout
- Very capable IGP solution, VGA, DVI and HDMI 1.3 output
- Included 1394 support – rare in budget priced boards.
- Very effective and tweakable load-line-calibration! Solid voltage regulation and 140W CPU support.
- Very good overclocker – took our X2 550 to new limits and had no trouble with 1.55V
- 352MHz reference clock achieved!
- Great IGP overclocking headroom, exceeded 800MHz on the core and 2000MHz on sideport
- Easy to unlock Deneb processors and good unlocking options.
- Retail BIOS is very solid, easy to navigate and bug free.
- Probe II, GPU-NOS are excellent applications
- Excellent price at less than $100 CDN and easy to find


Cons:

- No MOSFET heatsink, and other heatsinks too small
- Weak accessory bundle
- We want TurboV for the M4A785TD-M as well!

 
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