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Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Gigabyte's high-end GA-X48-DS5 motherboard is, as you might have guessed, based on the Intel X48 Express and ICH9R chipsets. It's core logic offers up 32 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth which makes this platform great for running a pair of Crossfire'd ATI videocards at full tilt.
 86% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Jan 28 2009   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5

Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Saver - Energy Efficiency

Computer power consumption is just one more area where there is room for making things more energy efficient. Particularly as the number of computers per household continues to rise, not to mention the exponential leaps in computer use world wide....

Modern computer systems with multi-core CPUs and multi-GPU videocards have forced power draw up pretty high, but thanks to the "Green Revolution" motherboard makers are starting to offer board-level power-saving and power efficiency features. The Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 is no exception.

Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced is the name of the game, and although the savings are still minor it's worth flicking on.

Dynamic Energy Saver technology works on several fronts, but most significantly by adjusting the amount of power phases used to keep the CPU operating. Depending on the processor's load at any given moment, some or most of the motherboard power phases can be disabled to reduce total system power draw. ASUS have similar technology which uses a two-step process to keep either half or all the power phases on at any given time. Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver has the ability to activate power phases incrementally, and turn them off when they're not being used.

PCSTATS tested Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver software on the GA-X48-DS5 motherboard to see just what it can do, but first lets take a closer look at what it offers up.

The Dynamic Energy Saver tool rests in the system tray once the software is installed. The main window displays current CPU power consumption in Watts (here at 10.47W) care of an Intersil PWM chip that doubles as a power meter. The user has full control over DES, it can be turned on or off with the flick of a switch. In situations where you need the full power of your computer, say for gaming or really intensive applications you can easily disable DES by turning it off.

The power meter monitors moment-to-moment CPU power consumption, whether DES is on or turned off. Here's the CPU power when the computer is idle, it's drawing about 8.6W. Under load the CPU power draw jumps up to around 45W.

When enabled, DES displays several points of information: Cumulative Watts of power saved, and current Watts being saved with DES on vs. the tool not being used. The two other configurable options within the system are Dynamic Voltage (three levels) and Dynamic Frequency (on/off). Dynamic Frequency is basically CPU throttling by underclocking - a method used on laptops for many years to improve battery life. The Dynamic Power Phases are represented by twelve little engines, which blank out as they are dynamically turned off, if unnecessary. On Gigabyte's GA-X48-DS5 motherboard a string of LED lights go on or off to indicate how many CPU power phases are turned off.

Pairing the metered mode together with Prime 95 running in the background gives a quick glimpse at what Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver can do. With all power savings turned to their minimums and the processor Dynamic Frequency adjustment off, the system was run for five minutes under heavy load. The power saving meter reported were a mere 1.578W saved. It's not much, but if we multiply that by a year the power savings add up. DES Advanced does support power phase switching even when the motherboard is being overclocked, although we fail to see the point of overclocking and power saving features being blended together.

Total System Power Draw Comparisons

Here's how the Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 motherboard stacks up in real life against a couple different motherboards. We have no way of directly measuring motherboard power draw, so PCSTATS measures total system power draw and compares that in CPU-loaded (max value recorded in Prime95) and idle states (at Windows desktop).

The power supply used in each test is an A-PFC compliant PC Power and Cooling 750W model.

PCSTATS Benchmark ReportSystem Power Draw Tests: (PCPower 750W PSU)
Desktop Idle (W) Wattage Ranking
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 (X48 333/1066) 151
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (P45 333/1066) 145.5
ECS P45T-A (P45 333/800) 146
Biostar TPower I45 (P45 333/1066) 126.6
Prime95 Stressed (W) Wattage Ranking
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 (X48 333/1066) 197
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (P45 333/1066) 197.7
ECS P45T-A (P45 333/800) 196
Biostar TPower I45 (P45 333/1066) 183.8
Power Saving On (Idle) Wattage Ranking
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 (X48 333/1066) 142
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (P45 333/1066) 142
Power Saving On (Stress) Wattage Ranking
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 (X48 333/1066) 194
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DQ6 (P45 333/1066) 189

[*This figure represents total system power consumption in Watts, either with the system at idle, or the peak value recorded while running Prime95.]

The Dynamic Energy Saver isn't exactly saving the world with its reductions in power savings, but in reality there's only so much electricity a motherboard can save in a system with a video card and motherboard drawing a fair amount of electricity. While these savings seem relatively minor, over time they can still add up to quite a bit of money shaved off your electricity bill.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-X48-DS5 Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Gigabyte Dynamic Energy Saver - Energy Efficiency
 Pg 3.  Intel X48 Express - Performance Tuned?
 Pg 4.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 5.  Overclocking with Gigabyte
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark06, Quake 4, FEAR
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007 Preview
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra: Processor
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra: Memory
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 11.  Gigabyte's take on the Intel X48

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