Articles: CPU

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Our test session produced very interesting results that made us think about today’s most optimal choice among inexpensive quad-core processors. However, these results were not enough to give a definite answer to this question. We can’t disregard different overclocking potential of these processors, because most users will likely overclock their processors to improve their systems performance. And the interesting thing is that despite the seeming similarity of the above discussed Core 2 Quad processors they would overclock absolutely differently.

It is in fact fairly easy to understand why it is so, if you recall all the problems you can face during quad-core processor overclocking in general. The problem is that when you overclock Core 2 Quad processors you increase their frequency by setting higher FSB speeds. Moreover, by junior models of Intel’s quad-core processors these frequencies may be significantly higher than the default 266 or 333MHz, because they are initially designed to work at comparatively low clock speeds and hence use low multipliers. However, since quad-core processors consist of two semiconductor dies, they load the system bus twice as heavily. Therefore, overclocking may often be limited not by the processor potential but by the mainboards and chipsets that can’t ensure stable functioning of the Core 2 Quad processor at high FSB speeds.

Namely, as you know from our mainboard reviews, the problems appear as soon as we pass 450MHz FSB. Some especially successful mainboards can raise the FSB frequency up to 490MHz without losing stability, however, 500MHz is hardly ever operational with quad-core processors. We are going to find out from our practical experiments, how critical these restrictions are.

Since a system built on an inexpensive quad-core CPU will hardly use a premium mainboard, we decided to run our overclocking tests on DFI LANPARTY DK P45-T2RS.

This is a relatively affordable mainboard based on Intel P45 Express. It is priced in retail stores at around $150. Nevertheless, it has every right to be called an overclocker solution. DFI has long been known as a maker of platforms for computer enthusiasts. Moreover, a lot of overclocking records have been already set on DFI LANPARTY DK P45-T2RS. For example, 693MHz FSB frequency has been reached during a dual-core processor overclocking experiment.

Moreover, DFI LANPARTY DK P45-T2RS has a few other remarkable features. Besides vivid colors, it also boasts very smart layout designed without anything excessive. The developers didn’t use any additional SATA and Firewire controllers and offered 10 USB 2.0 ports, 6 chipset SATA-300 ports with RAID support, one network port and one PATA-133 channel. The board features two PCI Express x16 2.0 slots working in x8 mode, when employed simultaneously, and supports DDR2 SDRAM.

DFI LANPARTY DK P45-T2RS has an onboard POST controller, Power On and Reset buttons and a Clear CMOS jumper on the rear panel.

The mainboard uses a four-phase processor voltage regulator circuitry that is powerful enough even for top quad-core processors manufactured with 65nm process. The voltage regulator as well as the rest of the board is built using only solid state capacitors with polymeric electrolyte.

The chipset North Bridge and the processor voltage regulator are cooled with three heatsinks connected with one another with heatpipes. These heatsinks are pretty compact, so there is enough free room around the processor socket to accommodate large processor coolers easily. However, installing some large coolers may still be a little tricky. But you can be certain that the chipset North Bridge will be cooled perfectly fine, especially since the corresponding heatsink is fastened against the chip with metal screws and not some weak plastic clips.

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