Articles: Mainboards

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To check out our mainboard’s overclocking friendly features we assembled the following testbed:

  • ECS P35T-A v1.00 mainboard, BIOS from 06.12.07;
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 CPU (1.86GHz, FSB 266MHz, 2MB, Conroe-2M, rev. B2);
  • 2x1024MB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D;
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB graphics card;
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 HDD, ST3320620AS, 7200RPM, 16MB, SATA 320GB;
  • Zalman CNPS9700 LED CPU cooler;
  • OCZ GameXStream GXS700 PSU (700W).

First boot-up went on fine. The system worked flawlessly in nominal mode. But when we got to overclocking Elitegroup let us down, as always. Our test processor can overclock up to 490MHz FSB, however it could only hit 350MHz FSN on ECS P35T-A mainboard – it is a very low result.

At 360MHz frequency the board refused to start at all: it is a real BIOS issue, but I wouldn’t hope that new BIOS versions will be free from this problem. Elitegroup Company always corrects mistakes (if any exist) and adds support of new processor models in the new BIOS versions, but doesn’t improve the overclocking-friendly features of their mainboards, unfortunately.

However, even if there was an improvement, it would have hardly helped us a lot. You may have noticed that ECS P35T-A mainboard supports DDR2 667 as well as DDR2 800 SDRAM, and that’s it. If the nominal memory setting is DDR2 667, our processor with the default FSB frequency of 266MHz will use an increasing 4:5 divider. As a result, the memory frequency will rise to 875MHz in case we overclock to 350MHz FSB.

Taking into account that the memory can receive maximum 2.0V, which is even lower than the nominal voltage for Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D that we use, there is hardly any chance to hit higher speeds at all.

Theoretically, the situation looks better for processors with 333MHz FSB. In this case the DDR2 667 memory setting means they will use a 1:1 divider. It is the minimal possible memory divider for Intel P35 chipset and it is usually used for processor overclocking experiments. However, the BIOS limitation that prevents us from getting beyond 350MHz brings us back to the ground. Even CPUs with 333MHz FSB cannot overclock beyond this frequency, which we have actually seen during our practical experiments.

But this is not all yet. CPUs with 266MHz and 333MHz FSB are relatively expensive. Therefore, the ECS P35T-A users will most likely install processors with 200MHz FSB, such as Core 2 Duo from E4xxx series, Pentium Dual-Core, Celeron 4xx. Paradoxical as it might seem, but the mainboard is least of all suitable for overclocking of these particular processors. To set the memory as DDR2 667 you will have to apply an even greater increasing divider of 3:5. It means that we will not be able to hit even 300MHz FSB in this case, because the memory frequency will get close to 1000MHz.

So, what advantages does ECS P35T-A mainboard have to offer us when we consider purchasing it for our systems? Low price? - Well, the boards on Intel 945 series chipsets with Conroe support overclock as good as ECS P35T-A, but cost even less. Support of 45nm processors? – Quite some time will pass before they come out and by the time they appear in the market there will be a few other options already available. Even ECS P35T-A mainboard will already cost even less in about 6 months. So looks like it would be pretty hard to find a good reason to decide on this board at this time.

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