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by Rory Buszka on December 3, 2008 in Intel Motherboards

On the test bench today, we have Gigabyte’s latest Micro ATX offering, the Intel G45-based EG45M-DS2H. This board carries the typical Gigabyte enthusiast charm, but also caters towards those looking to build a media center. But how does it stack up against the other Intel mATX boards we’ve tested recently?

SYSmark 2007 Preview, Intel DHCAT 3.0

Synthetic benchmarks have typically been favored for performance testing, but the results they provide can be fairly abstract, and the methods they use to assign their scores can be dubious at times. By contrast, real-world application benchmarks provide performance metrics that apply directly to real-world usage, and we endeavor to apply both in our performance comparisons.

SYSmark 2007 Preview from BAPCo is a special case, because its synthetic scores are derived from tests in real-world applications. However, we still believe that synthetic benchmarking scores are best used to directly compare the performance of one piece of hardware to another, and not for developing an impression of real-world performance expectations. SYSmark is more useful than most synthetic benchmarking programs in our opinion, because its tests emulate tasks that people actually perform, in actual software programs that they are likely to use.

The benchmark is hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios identically, such as video editing in Sony Vegas and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. At the conclusion of the suite of tests, five scores are delivered: an E-learning score, a Video Creation score, a Productivity score, and a 3D Performance score, as well as an aggregated ‘Overall’ score. These scores can still be fairly abstract, and are most useful for direct comparisons between test systems.

A quick note on methodology: SYSmark 2007 requires a clean install of Windows Vista 32-bit to run optimally. Before any testing is conducted, the hard drive is first wiped clean, and then a fresh Windows installation is conducted, then lastly, the necessary hardware drivers are installed. The ‘Three Iterations’ test suite is run, with the ‘Conditioning Run’ setting enabled. Then the results from the three runs are averaged and rounded up or down to the next whole number.

Since both the Intel DG45ID and the Gigabyte EG45M-DS2H are both based on the Intel G45 Express chipset, we expect to see results that are in about the same neighborhood. While the Gigabyte board managed to pull away from the DG45ID in the video creation part of the test, the productivity section gave it a bit more trouble – we see performance that’s more on par with the last-generation G35 chipset – which resulted in a lower overall score for the Gigabyte board than the Intel DG45ID managed to achieve.

Intel Digital Home Capabilities Assessment Tool Pro 3.0

Developed in cooperation with BAPCo, Intel’s Digital Home Capabilities Assessment Tool (DHCAT for short) Pro 3.0 is another synthetic benchmark that tests performance in real-world applications. In this case, the real-world applications are related to the various aspects of audio and video recording, processing, and playback relevant to a media center or home theater PC. As with SYSMark 2007, we conduct our testing on a clean 32-bit Vista install.

It’s a little surprising that in this test, the G35-based ASUS P5E-VM board obliterated both of its G45-based competitors. We were disappointed in the Intel DG45ID motherboard’s performance when compared to the last-generation offering, but the Gigabyte EG45M-DS2H manages to improve on the DG45ID’s performance somewhat in more throughput-intensive tests like music ripping and photo compression.

Next, let’s take a look at the EG45M-DS2H motherboard’s performance in some real-world multimedia application testing.