Efficiency: Core 2 Nukes Atom On The Desktop

Core 2 Duo E7200 and Foxconn G31MG-S

G31 and E7200 is the real low-power story–as we found out recently. The combination of an efficient motherboard with integrated graphics (Foxconn uses only a three-phase voltage regulator) and a reasonable Core 2 Duo E7000 processor based on the latest M0 stepping delivered an amazingly low idle power of 31 W. It is important to know that we had to use a low-power power supply unit, as the models rated for several hundred watts usually are rather inefficient for small loads.

Since the performances of different Intel chipsets does not differ very much if the processors are comparable (clock speeds, timing settings, and power saving options), it doesn’t matter that much whether you purchase a high-end X48 motherboard or an entry-level G31 solution like this one. Computing power depends on the processor and the memory installed. Responsiveness increases with memory capacity and fast drives. And 3D performance depends on how much you’re willing to invest in graphics. We ran the G31MG-S with the E7200 with the same core components as the Atom solution from ECS in order to get a fair comparison for office and multimedia use.

Reason Above All

The motherboard on its own isn’t exciting. In fact, it’s rather boring, as it has no features that would make it really special, but it’s still one of the most reasonable options for those seeking an ideal performance-per-watt ratio. The board only has two DDR2 DIMM sockets, which doesn’t allow for a memory upgrade if you installed two DIMMs, but going for the maximum of 2x 2 GB RAM is extremely inexpensive now, and it will make the system last for at least two years. The x16 PCI Express slot allows users to install a fully featured graphics card, which isn’t possible with most Atom solutions. Two 32-bit PCI slots and a x1 PCI Express slot can accommodate add-on cards. HD audio is there, 4+4 USB 2.0 ports are available, four SATA/300 ports should suffice for most systems, and UltraATA/100 is present as well. However, most people will want more features. Please look at the test setup page for information about the other hardware components we used.