To merely test power consumption is not enough any more and because you dear readers gave us positive feedback. So we measured power-consumption with CineBench and set them in perspective with the results. Please note our results are peak values but that's ok for comparison purposes. Power-Consumption tests for overall consumption where made with Cool'n'Quiet enabled.
AMD Phenom II X4:
With prices so low for any Phenom II, there is no reason not to consider buying one when you have to update your system. While the most efficient CPU is still the Intel Core 2 Quad 9000 series, in our opinion Phenom II X4 955 offers similar performance, especially with AMD optimized software. Also, it's much easier to overclock any Phenom II compared to Intel Core 2 Quads.
We do also do not recommend the Intel Core i7 series, because they also get extremely hot, they use more energy compared to their predecessors and the boards are very expensive. If you lucky you can gain additional value from Phenom II X3 Triple-Cores when the BIOS of some mainboard supports unlocking the fourth core. This works in many cases and can get you a great quad for the price of the three core. The only downside of Phenom II is the higher energy-consumption, but in idle mode they are very close to Intel. Triple-Cores are available for about €107,- while the cheapest Quad-Core costs about €148,-, you can find all the CPU prices here. Phenom II X4 955 with an overclock to a stable 3.8GHz is a great CPU for €225, and we can recommend it. Of course, we would be happier to see 4+GHz.
For some time we did not see a real AMD high-end board. This board of course is not perfect as we have discussed in the layout section, but despite that, MSI really improved BIOS, even adding features after a product was already released making it fantastic. Of course DDR3 is still not that cheap compared to DDR2, but when planning to upgrade an old system and want to be future-proof, this board is a perfect choice. MSI offers the best analog VRM around, with highly integrated parts which increase costs but keeps power-consumption down.
We are not fans of annoying knobs and buttons, but the overclocking capabilities of this board speak for itself. Even with non-Black Edition CPUs you can get the virtual FSB in regions where you gain the most increase while still able to use Cool'n'Quiet to save power. All our overclocking results where achieved by only increasing CPU voltage, only above 300MHz you may be required to increase the CPU NB voltage, so even inexperienced overclockers are able to achieve good results.
The board is already available for about €158,- which is fair price for such a board.
We hope in future MSI will improve their layout, so a debug LED can also be used on Crossfire platforms and we hope to see an official BIOS which does unlock all X2 and X3s unofficially. We will keep you informed if that has happened with new BIOS versions. Besides that, there is no reason not to recommend this board.