In order to check the overclocking potential of the abit AW9D-MAX mainboard we used Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 CPU. On the Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 mainboard this processor ran stably at 500MHz FSB. It was cooled with Tuniq Tower 120 cooler and the chipset North Bridge and memory were additionally cooled down by a couple of 80mm fans. Unfortunately, we didn’t hit any sky-high results. The system ran stably only at 415MHz FSB, i.e. we didn’t even hit the 3.0GHz bar.
We didn’t even have to increase the processor Vcore to ensure that the system would run stably at this speed: the CPU worked just fine at the nominal 1.325V. And Vchipset was increased to 1.8V.
The result is actually pretty low, but there isn’t much we can do about it. For comparison we decided to take the same Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 mainboard that overclocked the CPU to 500MHz FSB, i.e. to 3.5GHz clock speed. The goal of this comparison was evident: take the abit mainboard on one of the top chipsets and the simplest Gigabyte mainboard on P965 chipset, overclock both boards to the maximum frequencies without losing operational stability, and… Looks like no triumph for Gigabyte this time.
If you have read our article called Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 Mainboard: Budget Leader for Core 2 Duo Overclocking, then you should remember that it didn’t demonstrate its highest overclocking result with the latest BIOS version F6. It was showing its best with the early BIOS version F2, which, however, is not free from some frustrating bugs. This time we decided to check out all BIOS versions in-between F6 and F2 as well. Maybe we would fine one that would be able to overclock processors as successfully as F2, but will have all the bugs eliminated.
Starting with the version F6 we reflashed the BIOS versions F5, F4 and F3 onto our Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 mainboard, but none of them allowed our CPU to hit 500MHz FSB. And you can imagine our astonishment when we reflashed the good old version F2 and it also failed us! The maximum FSB frequency we could get on our Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 mainboard with BIOS version F2 without losing operational stability was 460MHz.
The explanation emerged very quickly. In our previous test session we used Corsair TWIN2X1024-8000UL memory kit of two 512MB modules. This time we had a 2 x 1024MB Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 kit. Could the amount of DRAM matter so much? We checked this supposition by replacing two 1GB DIMMs with smaller ones. And voila: we could easily hit 500MHz FSB again.
As is known more memory as well as the use of more DIMMs for the same memory capacity increase the chipset workload, which can slow down the system and even reduce the overclocking potential of the platform. However, you shouldn’t blame only the chipset in this case. The ASUS P5B Deluxe mainboard based on the same Intel P965 chipset proved less efficient during overclocking than Gigabyte GA-965P-S3. We could overclock the same Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 processor only to 493MHz FSB on the ASUS board, while on the board from Gigabyte we hit the 500MHz bar. However, when we replaced the Corsair TWIN2X1024-8000UL memory modules with Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 and thus doubled the size of the system memory, the results remained the same.