Articles: Mainboards

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Operational and Overclocking Specifics

Frankly speaking, we didn’t notice any specific peculiarities during our Asus P7H57D-V EVO performance tests. And in this case it is really good. The board powered on just fine right from the start and continued to power on, off and reboot later on without any problems. The processor fan rotation speed adjusted fine, BISO got updated without any issues, settings profiles could be saved and loaded, all tests were passed. Mainboards are very complex devices that is why even the most detailed review still leaves out certain things. Therefore, we are going to use the opportunity and tell you about Asus Q-Led technology that started appearing on the latest Asus mainboards.

I am sure that some of you may have occasionally used POST controllers integrated onto mainboard PCBs or provides on special diagnostic add-on cards. If the board refuses to boot for some reason, the POST code indicator displays a combination of letters and digits. After that you have to consult a manual or look up this combination online in order to understand what it indicates and what the problem is. Asus and MSI have already tried to simplify and speed up this process, but small LCD displays that would show all boot-up stages in text format instead of codes didn’t really take off. Therefore, it is extremely interesting to check out the new Asus Q-Led technology. It is implemented in a very simple manner: there are a couple of LEDs grouped in a single line, like on Asus Maximus III Formula, or scattered over the PCB like on Asus P7H57D-V EVO. As the system boots, these LEDs light up and turn off: first the CPU indicator, then the one for the memory, the graphics card and finally the boot-up device. If all devices have been successfully initialized, the booting continues; if it stalled at some point, then the corresponding LED will stay on. As a result, you can almost instantly determine the source of the problem. I believe it is a very elegant and convenient solution.

Luckily, I didn’t have to resort to Asus Q-Led at any time during the test session, because the mainboard worked impeccably. And as for CPU overclocking, things got a little more interesting here. We got a new Intel Core i3-540 CPU, which potential hasn’t been studied yet. It works at the nominal 3.06 GHz frequency, supports 23x maximum clock multiplier and 1.025 V nominal Vcore. By the way, Asus mainboards do not indicate the nominal CPU core voltage anywhere. You can only guess what it could be like according to the current voltage setting in the BIOS. Only later on when we working with a Gigabyte mainboard we managed to find out what the exact default Vcore was for our particular processor sample. Looks like we have just found one more little thing that could be fixed to make Asus mainboards BIOS even better.

Overclocking Intel Core i3-540 processor turned out just as easy as overclocking any other CPU. The basics, terminology and approximate overclocking algorithms remained the same and we have already discussed then in our earlier article called “Guide: Lynnfield Overclocking on Asus P7P55D Deluxe Mainboard”. In fact, things are even a little simpler this time, because junior Clarkdale processors do not support Intel Turbo Boost technology that is why there is no need to limit the increase in the processor clock frequency multiplier during overclocking. Without changing the CPU core voltage our processor could pass all tests at 3.5 GHz frequency. It is a very good result, considering the low nominal core voltage of our unit. When we increased its Vcore by 0.2875 V we managed to get the CPU to work stably at 4.5 GHz.

Without any load processor clock frequency multiplier and Vcore drop, which lowers the power consumption, heat dissipation and generated noise.

We have to say a few words about the memory timings. Many Clarkdale reviewers complained that CAS Latency values reported by diagnostic utilities differ from the ones set in the BIOS. We faced the same exact problem: sometimes four different utilities would show four different values, and the BISO would show the fifth one. Only the last test version 1.53.5 of the CPU-Z showed the same CAS Latency as the one we saw in the BIOS. All these utilities could be working incorrectly because the memory controller had been moved from the processor die onto an individual die. So, don’t believe what you see on the Everest CPUID screenshots: in reality memory timings were set to 6-6-6-18-1T in all cases.

Overclocking by almost 1.5 times, from 3.06 to 4.5 GHz turned out a very good result, but later on we discovered that we could hit even higher speeds on Gigabyte boards: 4.6 GHz.

100 MHz difference is not crucial, but it proved to be stable and didn’t depend on the mainboard or chipset it was based on. We had to stop at 4.5 GHz on Asus P7H57D-V EVO and P7P55D Deluxe mainboards, while three difference Gigabyte mainboards could easily push the CPU clock to 4.6 GHz. However, let’s check out the performance numbers first, before we start criticizing Asus mainboards for not being able to reach maximum overclocking speeds.

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