Stress Testing and Power Consumption
Stress Test — Putting It All Together

Another test we added to the motherboard suite this time around was the stress test.  In this we take all the on-board components and make them all work together just to see if they play nicely. 

In our case here this meant running WMP10 on an HD video, having PCMark05 run some hard drive tests, running HDTach on the external USB hard drive, playing a large WAV file and running the network bandwidth test, all at the same time.  The tests were looped for an hour and we listened for sound ‘jumps’ or video stutters or anything similar.

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Running these tests on the ECS KA3 MVP and the MSI K9A Platinum proved to be successful.  There was one instance in which the ECS motherboard had a hard lock in our tests, but restarting the system and re-running the stability tests showed the board could finish it.

Power Consumption

In many cases, looking at the power consumption of motherboards and chipsets can seem a little over dramatic.  After all, when your GPU eats up a couple hundred watts on its own, whats a few more for a chipset?  Regardless, we felt the need to use our power meter to test for power consumption at the wall. 

Idle power was taken at the Windows desktop while load results were taken from a dual-threaded CineBench run.

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We knew that the ATI XPress 3200 was a lower power consumer than the NVIDIA nForce 590 series of chipsets.  However, these retail motherboards are using about 20 more watts of power at idle compared to the reference ATI motherboard we tested.  Peak power numbers stay in the same ballpark, though.

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