Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

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

  • Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 v1.0 mainboard (LGA1155, Intel Z68 Express, BIOS ver. F4);
  • Intel Core i5-2500K CPU (3.3 GHz, Sandy Bridge, LGA1155);
  • 2 x 2048 MB DDR3 SDRAM Patriot Extreme Performance Viper II Sector 5 Series PC3-16000, PVV34G2000LLKB (2000 MHz, 8-8-8-24 timings, 1.65 V voltage);
  • MSI N570GTX-M2D12D5/OC graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 570, GF110, 40 nm, 786/4200 MHz, 320-bit GDDR5 1280 MB);
  • Kingston SSD Now V+ Series (SNVP325-S2, 128 GB);
  • Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B (SCMG-2100) CPU cooler and an additional 80x80 mm fan for cooling the area around the CPU socket during overclocking experiments;
  • 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/ION Driver 266.58 graphics card driver.

Operational and Overclocking Specifics

We didn’t have any problems assembling a system on Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3, except for the installation of the Scythe Mugen 2 CPU cooler, which has becomes a common issue for almost all mainboards these days. The capacitor pins hanging off the back of the PCB make it difficult to install the cooler backplate. In our previous article where we discussed four different Gigabyte mainboards from UD3 to UD7 at the same time, we paid special attention to one of the typical problems, which we saw in all of them. Namely, by default Gigabyte mainboards did not let the CPU to go into deep power-saving modes and therefore they consumed more power than necessary when the processor was idling. Moreover, for the same exact reason Intel Turbo Boost technology didn’t work to the full extent of its ability and therefore the boards turned out slower than their competitors in those applications where the CPU was not maximally utilized. It is very pleasing to see that Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 mainboard is free from all these issues.

Only some contemporary mainboard models have the drives working in AHCI mode by default, most mainboards still have the old IDE mode. Gigabyte mainboards work differently: they offer users a choice. During the very first boot-up they offer the user to accept or deny switching the drives to AHCI mode. Once the choice is made, this message will no longer pop up.

CPU and memory overclocking on Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 produced average results. We failed to hit the maximum CPU frequency and had to stop at 4.7 GHz. The memory also refused to work at 1867 MHz, but accepted very good timings of 6-6-6-18-1T at 1600 MHz frequency.

All Intel processor power-saving technologies were up and running during all our overclocking experiments. In idle mode the system automatically lowered the processor core voltage and clock frequency by dropping its frequency multiplier.

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