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ASRock M3A785GXH/128M: BIOS And Overclocking

Seven AMD 785G-Based Motherboards Rounded Up
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A list of voltage and frequency ranges can be found on page 21 of this review.

Even though the 785G isn't what we'd call an enthusiast chipset, ASRock takes this board seriously when it comes to BIOS tweaking options. In fact, this is the only board in our roundup that allows for dedicated integrated GPU voltage adjustment instead of making users rely on the generic northbridge voltage alone. It features three BIOS profiles, a BIOS flash utility, and AMD's Advanced Clock Calibration (ACC) feature. The only notable missing adjustment is the southbridge voltage. We found that AMD's own overclocking tool didn't operate very stably on the ASRock board, so relying on the BIOS to tweak the settings was preferable.

It seems that ASRock is the only manufacturer that actively advertises AMD's ACC feature as a potential way to unlock dormant CPU cores or enable dormant cache. This is a very hit-or-miss capability though, largely dependent on your processor. Indeed, turning on ACC allowed us to turn on disabled CPU cores, thus enabling the fourth core in our Phenom II X3 705e. Unfortunately, our Phenom II X2 550 CPU did not grace us with the same experience, and turning ACC on simply crashed the system. This can be a blessing or a curse—while the feature could enable dormant CPU cores, it can't be used to increase overclocking success with CPUs lacking viable dormant cores or cache.

Overclocking the integrated graphics core was very successful, and we enjoyed a clean 100% overclock to 1 GHz from the stock 500 MHz. To do this, we had to raise the mGPU voltage a little to 1.59V, which is a dedicated voltage setting that no other 785G board in this roundup had.

In fact, our only disappointment was memory support. We couldn't boot our Mushkin XP3-12800 at 1,600 MHz using relaxed 9-10-10-25 timings, even though this memory is sold as a 7-8-7-20 part. We know that it's difficult to get AM3 CPUs working with memory speeds faster than 1,333 MHz, but since ASRock proudly advertises 1,600 MHz memory support on the box, we had higher expectations. Despite this issue, AM3 processors will probably prefer low-latency 1,333 MHz memory over 1,600 MHz memory anyway, so this is more of a disappointment than a serious performance detriment.

In summary, the ASRock M3A785GXH/128M is a full-featured board that facilitates lots o flexibility for the enthusiast on a budget.

Display all 35 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , October 27, 2009 2:04 PM
    Very informative article. Nice to see there are motherboards with different features for different users/tasks.
  • 5 Hide
    LATTEH , October 27, 2009 3:24 PM
    Just what i needed to see thanks toms!
  • 6 Hide
    bpdski , October 27, 2009 3:41 PM
    Great article, I think this shows pretty conclusively that there is no benefit to upgrading to an AM3 based system. If you already have an AM2+ system, you can easily just drop in a new CPU and you system will be every bit as good as a brand new system with DDR3. You just need to make sure your motherboard supports the power requirements of whatever you want to drop in.
  • 7 Hide
    jonpaul37 , October 27, 2009 4:13 PM
    Hooray AMD for having cheap solutions in these hard-economic times!

    Boo @ Intel! i like the product, but my wallet & Girl do not like the cost!
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , October 27, 2009 4:33 PM
    jonpaul37Hooray AMD for having cheap solutions in these hard-economic times!Boo @ Intel! i like the product, but my wallet & Girl do not like the cost!

    +1
    Girl has more money for clothes!
  • 5 Hide
    ominous prime , October 27, 2009 4:37 PM
    Well bpdski there is no point upgrading if you're AM2, but if you're building a new PC AM3 is the way to go in terms of your computers longevity. Very informative article.
  • 1 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , October 27, 2009 5:30 PM
    thanks alot for the info , my first choice was allways asus , but now i now what i need when im going to unlock core , and now i saw the benefits of sideport memory .
  • 1 Hide
    duzcizgi , October 27, 2009 5:33 PM
    Quote:
    We were successful in achieving a 900 MHz stable overclock with the integrated graphics chipset by setting the BIOS to increase northbridge voltage by +.210mV.

    Well, .210 mV = 210 microvolt. I don't think it would make much of a change. Maybe it is 210 mV or, .210 V. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    doron , October 27, 2009 6:36 PM
    "Now we're seeing another benefit for the AM2+/DDR2 boards: both the Foxconn Cinema Premium and Biostar TA785GE 128M are drawing less power than their AM3/DDR3 counterparts."

    How comes? Didn't we all agree a long time ago that ddr3 supposed to be more energy efficient out of the two? (Lower voltage and stuff?)
  • 2 Hide
    DarkMantle , October 27, 2009 6:45 PM
    Great article, this will help a lot of people to make their AMD budget motherboard choice easier, thank you Don.
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , October 27, 2009 7:19 PM
    Ah nice line up and a good review. AMD has a better platform when factoring in cost and durability compared to Intel war I end up replacing the board after a few months to a year once the cpu power stage begins to degrade. Then there is performance on the I/O end and stable and steady stream to the cpu that is unaffected by other devices compared to FSB but on the cpu end need to be improved and same for INTEL.
  • 2 Hide
    haplo602 , October 27, 2009 7:32 PM
    before reading the article ... THANK GOD errr... TOM's ... I have been waiting for a 785G mobo test since release ... all I got was crap load of P55 ...
  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , October 27, 2009 8:01 PM
    so after reading the article, nice work. I have the cheaper MSI 785GM-E51 in my build atm, but the E65 looks very solid and worth the cost.
  • 0 Hide
    Kohlhagen , October 27, 2009 11:09 PM
    Does the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO have x8/x8 support or x16/x4? on newegg it says x16/x4
  • 0 Hide
    msroadkill612 , October 27, 2009 11:34 PM
    Early adopters of usb 3.0 may wish to note that cards will probably be pcie x 4 (to cope with the bandwidth). Those extra slots may be good even w/o a neeed for crossfire.
  • -2 Hide
    msroadkill612 , October 27, 2009 11:35 PM
    Early adopters of usb 3.0 may wish to note that cards will probably be pcie x 4 (to cope with the bandwidth). Those extra pcie slots may be good even w/o a need for crossfire.
  • 1 Hide
    autoboy , October 28, 2009 12:00 AM
    "The irony is that Foxconn chose Realtek's ALC888 codec to drive the Cinema Premium instead of the ALC889, which has a better signal-to-noise ratio and can be found in the Gigabyte and MSI 785G boards in this roundup."

    Actually, it makes perfect sense to use a subpar codec when the intention of the board is to use digital audio which will never touch the Realtek codec. When you use analog outputs, the benefits of DD live and DTS connect are worthless because whatever audio format the content is in will be decoded in surround sound and output over the analog outputs.

    DD Live and DTS connect are simply transcoding AAC or game surround sound into Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound where it is passed as DD or DTS over the spdif or HDMI port, never touching the realtek codec making it's quality a non-issue. The purpose of the board is digital connections only and the codec was simply added because all boards need one.

    DD Live and DTS connect are simply transcoding schemes for PC digital audio into a format that receivers can understand. If you think of it that way it is easy.
  • 1 Hide
    dragoon190 , October 28, 2009 3:57 AM
    +1 to Kohlhagen's question. It does state that the board is x16/x4 on Ausu's website, though...
  • 1 Hide
    dark_lord69 , October 28, 2009 1:15 PM
    jonpaul37Hooray AMD for having cheap solutions in these hard-economic times!Boo @ Intel! i like the product, but my wallet & Girl do not like the cost!

    Dito.
  • 1 Hide
    nafhan , October 28, 2009 1:40 PM
    Just bought the ECS board from newegg... it's $70 (after rebate) right now.
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