Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector, which is hooked up to a hall effect IC, which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC, which logs the DC voltage level that I then convert into current.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i GT) radiator are turned on to high (12v).
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The VRM on the 970-Gaming SLI is decent quality, but not high quality enough to maintain a 4.5GHz+ overclock on a 125W TDP CPU with ease. CPUs with lower TDPs should overclock a little more. Stock voltage went up to 1.5v, and most overclockers won't use this much voltage (it's AMD's Core Performance Boost pushing the auto voltage).
We have to remember that voltage isn't the only thing that increases when frequency increases, current has a larger impact and is much harder to pinpoint. I would say that VRM performance is good to acceptable.
Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
PRICING: You can find the GIGABYTE 970-Gaming SLI (AMD 970) Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The GIGABYTE 970-Gaming SLI (AMD 970) Motherboard retails for $99 at Amazon.
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon UK's website.
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