Seven AMD 785G-Based Motherboards Rounded Up

MSI 785GM-E65: BIOS And Overclocking

A list of voltage and frequency ranges can be found on page 21 of this review.

MSI did a good job of including all of the requisite BIOS options. The four BIOS profiles for saving settings are appreciated. The only curious omission was the SidePort voltage, as this is the only SidePort-equipped board without that option. As it turns out, this isn't much of a limitation, as the 785GM-E65 was the only AM3 board in our roundup able to successfully overclock the SidePort memory without screen corruption or crashing.

There was one more strange limitation to note: the board wouldn't allow us to manually set the tRAS memory latency. All of the main settings worked, however, including CAS latency, tRCD, and tRP. Since tRAS is what I'd consider a secondary setting, this didn't bother us too much.

Similar to the Gigabyte and ASUS boards, the MSI 785GM-E65 has an EC Firmware option in the BIOS that changes the way AMD's ACC works. If EC Firmware is left at the default “normal” setting when ACC is enabled, you won't unlock any dormant CPU cores, but you might get the improved overclocking headroom from an original Phenom processor. However, if EC Firmware is set to “special,” it allows for CPU cores to be unlocked. This is a great feature because most other boards only offer one type of BIOS. Either they will unlock dormant CPU cores and crash an unwilling processor or they will not unlock dormant CPU cores and allow for more overclocking tolerance.

The EC Firmware setting allows the user to choose what works best. We tested this feature and found that it worked great, allowing our Phenom II 550 BE to run stably with the ACC feature enabled without unlocking the dormant CPU cores. This same Phenom II 550 would crash when the “special” feature was used with ACC enabled, because the locked cores were faulty. But our Phenom II X3 705e sample would work with all four cores enabled.

The MSI 785GM-E65 couldn't boot our Mushkin XP3-12800 at 1,600 MT/s using relaxed 9-10-10-25 timings, even though this memory is sold as a 1,600 MHz 7-8-7-20 kit. Once again, we know that it's difficult to get AM3 CPUs working with memory speeds faster than 1,333 MHz, and we appreciate that MSI doesn't push this as a board that can handle 1,600 MHz memory. While we did find a small 1,600 MHz overclocking claim on the back of the box, the manual lists 1,333 MHz as the highest compatible memory frequency.

This board was one of only two that would accept a SidePort memory overclock, and the only AM3 option that could do it, despite the lack of SidePort voltage setting in the BIOS. We were able to set the SidePort memory to 1,700 MHz, the highest available setting the BIOS, with no screen corruption or crashing.

Unfortunately, the integrated GPU wasn't as overclock-friendly as the SidePort memory, yielding a final overclock of 800 MHz. The extra 300 MHz over the 500 MHz stock speed isn't bad, but it's still the only board that couldn't reach 900 MHz stably. Hopefully the SidePort memory overclock can help the frame rates in the overclocked benchmarks.

  • JohnnyLucky
    Very informative article. Nice to see there are motherboards with different features for different users/tasks.
    Just what i needed to see thanks toms!
  • bpdski
    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.
  • jonpaul37
    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!
  • 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!
  • ominous prime
    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.
  • sonofliberty08
    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 .
  • duzcizgi
    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. :)
  • doron
    "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?)
  • DarkMantle
    Great article, this will help a lot of people to make their AMD budget motherboard choice easier, thank you Don.