Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

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

  • Mainboards:
    • Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 rev. 1.0 (LGA1155, Intel P67 Express, BIOS version F5j);
    • Gigabyte GA-PH67A-UD3 rev. 1.0 (LGA1155, Intel H67 Express, BIOS version F5E);
  • Intel Core i5-2400 CPU (3.1 GHz, LGA1155, 1.215 V Vcore);
  • 2 x 2048 MB DDR3 SDRAM Patriot Extreme Performance Viper II Sector 5 Series PC3-16000, PVV34G2000LLKB, (2000 MHz, 8-8-8-24, 1.65 V voltage);
  • HIS HD 5850, H585F1GDG graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 5850, Cypress, 40 nm, 725/4000 MHz, 256-bit GDDR5 1024 MB);
  • Kingston SSD Now V+ Series (SNVP325-S2, 128 GB);
  • DVD±RW Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7173A optical drive;
  • Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B (SCMG-2100) CPU cooler;
  • Zalman CSL 850 thermal interface;
  • CoolerMaster RealPower M850 PSU (RS-850-ESBA);
  • Open testbed built using Antec Skeleton system case.

We used Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.1, Build 7600) operating system, Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility version, ATI Catalyst 10.12 graphics card driver.

BIOS Setup, Operational and Overclocking Specifics

Gigabyte still use the BIOS on Award code for their mainboards. It looks exactly the same as before, and the most significant changes are related to the processor. We used an Intel Core i5-2400 CU in our today’s tests. Its nominal clock speed is 3.1 GHz, but it can be increased with the help of Turbo Boost technology. The screenshot below shows very illustratively how the frequency reserve scales depending on the workload:

However, if you don’t change anything and leave all the settings at their default values, then the CPU frequency will only increase to 3200 MHz under any workload. Just as before, the problem is with “C3/C6 State Support” parameter. If we officially allow the CPU to switch to deep power-saving modes, then it is going to raise the clock speed even higher under heavy workload – up to 3400 MHz when only one core is utilized. Our processor model wasn’t an overclocker one, so it had limited flexibility in terms of clock frequency multiplier adjustment. However, nevertheless, it was still high enough. Even without touching the processor core voltage, we could increase its multiplier to 36x under any load. Moreover, when only two cores are utilized, you can raise the multiplier to 37x, and when only one core is active – to 38x! If necessary you can also use Load-Line Calibration function that will counteract the processor voltage drop under heavy load and increase any of the following voltages:

I have to say that when the multiplier was increased to 36x, the board also raised the processor core voltage from 1.215 V to 1.3 V. It is great that Gigabyte mainboards can not only increase, but also lower the processor core voltage: we got the CPU Vcore back to its nominal value by lowering it only 0.085 V and the system stability didn’t suffer at all. As for the memory, it worked at 1600 MHz with the voltage setting increased to 1.65 V. For some reason, we couldn’t reach anything higher than 1600 MHz.

I have to stress another important innovation in the Gigabyte mainboard BIOS: the option that allows controlling the rotation speed of the CU fan.

Gigabyte mainboard for Intel processors are practically the only mainboards we know that retained their ability to lower the rotation speed of three-pin CPU fans, and, of course, they could easily manage the rotation speed of any four-pin fans. However, they only offered automatic rotation speed management depending on the temperature: take it or leave it. It was still possible to fine-tune the rotation speed of the CPU fan, but only via special programs or utilities, such as a special section in Gigabyte’s brand name Easy Tune 6 utility. Today we can select one of the preset modes: Normal or Silent, or set the fan rotation speed manually.

Unfortunately, everything we have just said about the operational modes for the processor and memory is true only for Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3. Intel H67 Express chipset has no overclocking-friendly features, the processor clock frequency multiplier can only be changed automatically as part of Turbo Mode technology in action, if it is enabled, and no further increase is possible. You can clearly see that from the screenshot we took in the BIOS Setup of our Gigabyte GA-PH67A-UD3 mainboard, where you can see all multiplier adjustment options are grayed-out:

The voltage adjustment options remained the same as on Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3, but they do not have much practical value. You cannot set the memory frequency over 1333 MHz, so we had to accept this frequency and lower the timings to CL6. Sadly, but overclockers shouldn’t even consider Intel H67 Express based mainboards for their platforms.

The table below sums up all the BIOS features of the above discussed mainboards:

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