Articles: Mainboards

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Well, let’s return to our discussion of overclocking-friendly features of the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard and the results we managed to achieve using them. Especially, since the first look at the BIOS Setup is truly inspiring. However, if you think about it a little bit more, you will most probably wonder if all these settings are really necessary. Since today’s mainboards on Intel P965 Express chipset allow achieving 500MHz+ FSB frequencies without any magic – simply by raising the chipset North Bridge voltage. DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard will hardly demonstrate better results, as it doesn’t allow setting the FSB frequency above 511MHz. It seems to me that DFI engineers developed this complicated BIOS for those hardware enthusiasts who like to dig through all those numerous settings for the sake of squeezing extra 1-2 megahertz of speed or hundredths of a percent in the performance tests. We believe that this approach made overclocking extremely complicated. It takes a lot of time, as only by adjusting all those numerous parameters accordingly you can achieve the maximum result. Most voltage settings cannot be set to Auto, for instance, which may scare away less experienced and patient overclockers.

In search for the maximum frequency our own overclocking experiments took the good couple of days. However, as a result of this thorough investigation, we managed to uncover some very interesting phenomena.

First of all it turned out that the strap frequency in the Setup doesn’t really affect the maximum overclocking as well as the system performance. It evidently results from the asynchronous memory controller. Another proof of that is that the mainboard will perform the same way even if you set the memory frequency differently: you can use either frequency divider or set the memory frequency independently – the performance won’t change.

By simply adjusting the processor Vcore and Vmem you can only reach about 400MHz FSB speed. Further overclocking will require at least increasing the North Bridge voltage to 1.2V. To ensure that the mainboard is running stably at 450MHz FSB, this value needs to be set at 1.5V. And for the 500MHz FSB speed, this voltage setting needs to go up to 2V, which is 66% higher than the nominal. In this case the chipset North Bridge gets scarily hot, so you need to install a fan on the chipset North Bridge heatsink if you want to proceed.

Unfortunately, the mainboard cannot reveal its entire potential without you adjusting some of the remaining voltages in the BIOS Setup. Therefore, you really need to fine tune the settings if you intend to go beyond 420-430MHz. In particular the CPU VTT 1.2V Voltage parameter has big influence on the final result, however, if you raise it too much it may hinder overclocking. AT the same time you also need to increase NB PLL 1.8V Voltage, NB PLL 1.2V Voltage. The first one needs to be set at around 2V once you hit 450MHz bus speed. Many overclockers recommend setting NB PLL 1.2V Voltage at 1.38V, and so do we.

NB PCI-E 1.2V Voltage, SB Core 1.2V Voltage and Clockgen Voltage do not affect overclocking that much. However if you increase them just a little bit, it may improve the overall system stability at high FSB frequencies. NB Core 1.2V Convert From parameter also has some effect on the system operational stability during overclocking. Nevertheless, we managed to achieve the best result when it was set to 2.31V.

You should also remember about the GTL Ref Volt settings. The settings offered by DFI in the BIOS Setup may not help reveal the entire frequency potential of this mainboard. Raising these parameters may give you extra stability in case of significantly increased CPU VTT 1.2V Voltage and high FSB speeds.

However, you shouldn’t consider our recommendations an extensive overclocking instruction. These are just a few observations of ours we made when working with our sample of the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard. We managed to get the maximum FSB frequency with the following settings:

Well, now that we have made our long introduction to overclocking, it is time to discuss the specific obtained results, namely the FSB speeds we achieved. For our tests we put together a system with DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard and Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor. We have also used 2GB of Corsair TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF DDR SDRAM, PowerColor X1900 XTX 512MB graphics card and Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD HDD. Since ATI RD600 chipset allows clocking the memory independent of the front side bus frequency, our DDR2 SDRAM memory was always working at 1000MHz with 4-4-4-12-2T timings. The CPU was cooled with Zalman CNPS-9500LED cooler, and we have also installed an additional 80mm fan for proper cooling of the chipset North Bridge heatsink. We tested the system stability with the well-established ORTHOS utility based on Prime95 code. The maximum FSB frequency when DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard remained absolutely stable was 490MHz.

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