Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

We carried out our tests on a testbed that included the following components:

  • Asus Sabertooth X79 mainboard (BIOS version 0906);
  • 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, Nvidia GeForce Driver 285.62 graphics card driver.

Operational and Overclocking Specifics

We’ve mentioned the handy color coding of the mainboard’s connectors in the description above. And we've also noticed that the user-friendly PCB design allows installing even such a large cooler as Noctua NH-D14 without any conflicts with graphics cards. That's why we had no problems assembling our test configuration on the Sabertooth X79. The mainboard worked correctly at its default settings. When starting up, it shows a welcome picture that reminds you about pressing Del for entering UEFI BIOS but there are no tips about the other hotkeys.

There’s no point in turning the startup picture off because, unlike many other mainboards, including ASUS’s Republic of Gamers series, the Sabertooth X79 cannot correctly report the current CPU clock rate but only shows the base clock rate without counting Intel Turbo Boost in.

Having made sure the mainboard had no problems in the default mode, we tried to overclock it. Unfortunately, it couldn’t repeat the highest overclocking result of 4.7 GHz we previously reached with the ASUS Rampage IV Formula. The Sabertooth X79 should be given credit, however, for being able to work at such settings for a while and even pass some tests, as opposed to most other mainboards which couldn’t even boost the OS. It wasn't absolutely stable, so we lowered the CPU clock rate to 4.6 GHz and enjoyed stability in every application. This is a mere 100 MHz lower than our highest result and higher than the results of most other LGA2011 mainboards we've tested so far. The memory frequency could be increased to 1866 MHz.

By the way, we noticed one more error with the BIOS profiles. We’ve mentioned in our earlier reviews that ASUS mainboards do not save your disabling the startup picture in them. Now we've found another setting which is not saved in this manner.  Overclocking memory modules, we use their XMP data but replace the timings of 9-10-9-27-2T that most mainboards select by default with 9-10-9-27-1T. However, it turned out that the XMP parameters have higher priority than those that you save into BIOS profiles. After restoring a profile, we had memory timings of 9-10-9-27-2T rather than 9-10-9-27-1T.

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.

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