Articles: Mainboards
 

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Testbed Configuration

We performed all our tests on a testbed built with the following components:

  • ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional mainboard (BIOS version L1.07);
  • Intel Core i7-3930K CPU (3.2-3.8 GHz, Sandy Bridge-E rev.C2, 32nm, 130 W, LGA 2011);
  • 4 x 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R (16 GB, 1866 MHz, 9-10-9-27 timings, 1.5 V voltage);
  • MSI N570GTX-M2D12D5/OC graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 570, GF110, 40 nm, 786/4200 MHz, 320-bit GDDR5 1280 MB);
  • Crucial m4 SSD (CT256M4SSD2, 256 GB, SATA 6 Gbps);
  • Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler;
  • ARCTIC MX-2 thermal interface;
  • CoolerMaster RealPower M850 PSU (RS-850-ESBA);
  • Open testbed built using Antec Skeleton system case.

We used Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.1, Build 7601: Service Pack 1) operating system, Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility version 9.3.0.1019, Nvidia GeForce Driver 285.62 graphics card driver.

Operational and Overclocking Specifics

The developers managed to fit seven expansion card slots onto the ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional mainboard and maintain its dimensions within the ATX standards. It is really impressive, however, they had to move the first graphics card slot too close to the processor socket. As a result, it is the first time in our experience that we had to use one of the farther slots for the graphics card during our test session to avoid any possible interference with a large Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler. Other than that we didn’t have any problems during system assembly, although it would be nice if they had somehow separated the four additional SATA 6 Gbps ports from the two chipset ones and isolated the special Fatal1ty Mouse Port on the back panel.

During startup the board displays a start-up image at the same time reminding about the available “hot” keys.

You can disable the start-up image, if you like, but you won’t get access to any additional useful info by doing so. Like many other LGA 2011 mainboards, ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional displays only the nominal CPU frequency, which is significantly lower than the actual one.

However, later on we discovered that during overclocking the mainboard is able to correctly identify the processor frequency.

However, this happy moment was still ahead of us at that point and at first we couldn’t get the overclocked system to remain stable. The problem was solved when we decided to give up the function that counteracts the processor voltage drop under heavy load. Of course, in this case we had to raise the processor Vcore more than usual to make up for the drop, but the system stayed perfectly stable at 4.5 GHz frequency. This isn’t a record, but still a very decent result. In this mode the memory frequency and timings were the same as on other mainboards.

We always overclock mainboards in such a way that they could be used for a prolonged period of time in this mode. We do not try to make our life easier by disabling any of the mainboard features, such as onboard controllers, for example. We also try to keep the CPU's power-saving technologies up and running normally to the best of our ability. And this time all power-saving technologies remained up and running even in overclocked mode lowering the CPU voltage and frequency multiplier in idle mode.

I have to mention that we performed all tests even before the official launch of the ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional mainboard that is why we first used a beta BIOS version L1.06 and then reflashed it with L1.07. The final official BIOS version at launch was 1.10. We also checked it out later on, but didn’t uncover any serious difference from the versions we used during the test session.

 
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