Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed and Methods

We put together the following testbed to check out the performance and overclocking potential of our today’s hero – ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe mainboard:

  • Mainboard: ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP @n (BIOS 0704);
  • CPU:
    • Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 333MHz FSB, 2 x 6MB, Yorkfield rev. C0);
    • Core 2 Duo E8500 (3.16GHz, 333MHz FSB, 6MB, Wolfdale rev. C0);
  • CPU cooler: Scythe Mugen (Infinity);
  • Memory: 2GB Cell Shock DDR3-1800 SDRAM (CS3222580);
  • Graphics card: OCZ GeForce 8800GTX;
  • HDD: Western Digital Raptor WD1500AHFD;
  • PSU: SilverStone SST-ST85ZF.

Overclocking Experiments

To check out the overclocking potential of ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe we needed to find out the maximum FSB frequency at which this mainboard can work stably with dual- and quad-core processors.

The results of dual-core Core 2 Duo E8500 overclocking based on a 45nm core turned out pretty good. We performed the tests with the CPU clock frequency multiplier lowered to 8x and the mainboard was perfectly stable at up to 535MHz FSB. Unfortunately, it is FSB Wall for our processor sample, so we overclocked it to maximum 4.28GHz.

At this point the system passed long-term Prime95 stability tests as well as a one-hour run of OCCT Perestroika.

However, the ability of ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe to ensure stable CPU performance at relatively high FSB frequency without any hardware modifications and cooling system enhancements is not it main advantage. We were much more excited about the fact that ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe didn’t need us to push the chipset North Bridge, CPU PLL and FSB Termination voltages to their maximum. For example, this mainboard could easily reach 520MHz FSB with only CPU Voltage increased just a little bit. This is a truly unique peculiarity of the ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe mainboard.

As for the result on the screenshot above, we had to raise the processor Vcore to 1.4V, NB voltage – to 1.3V and FSB Termination Voltage – to 1.2V. Other voltage settings remained at their nominal values. In other words, ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe overclocks dual-core processors brilliantly.

To check out the situation with quad-core processors overclocking, we took a Core 2 Extreme QX9650 CPU sample. Unfortunately, overclocking didn’t go as smoothly as with the dual-core CPU. The mainboard that worked perfectly fine a few minutes ago at high FSB speeds suddenly started to give trouble. As a result we spent hours trying to achieve at least some acceptable results.

Nevertheless, the mainboard didn’t work at FSB frequencies over 450MHz, not to mention any far more impressive speeds. We tried all possible voltage settings, played around with memory dividers and FSB Strap frequencies, even raised the Performance Level, but the promising ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe still failed to work stably with the significantly overclocked quad-core processor. The best we could do at FSB speed over 450MHz was to boot the OS and run a few minutes under workload until system hung or displayed the BSOD.

Here we have also to add that the mainboard behaved absolutely inexplicably in case of over-overclocking. We are all familiar with a well established procedure of resetting the BIOS Setup parameters to their default values and offering the user the opportunity to adjust them, if the system is unable to start. On ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe it actually works from time to time. Sometimes, the mainboard clears CMOS, erasing not only timings, frequencies and voltage settings from the BIOS Setup, but also all others, including even system date and time. Of course, it gets pretty annoying when you are trying to find the most optimal parameters for your overclocked system.

However, I have to say that these quad-core CPU overclocking problems could be connected with our particular mainboard sample from one of the first mass batches. Especially, since you may come across a few articles describing successful quad-core CU overclocking on ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe mainboard. But we believe this is hardly an excuse for ASUS. Our experience with ASUS mainboards over the past year shows that first mass production samples of their new products are very often defective. ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe is the fourth mainboard already since last July that suffers from certain issues affecting its overclocking potential. We believe this statistics may indicate that the quality of ASUS mainboards lowered. It is especially frustrating, that these boards usually work perfectly fine in nominal mode, so you may not be able to exchange or return them.

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