One more thing we checked was the ability of our mainboards to overclock processors. However, it is important to understand that in case of Mini-ITX products, a test like has more of a theoretical rather than practical value. Compact systems have limited heat dissipating abilities and are usually equipped with not very powerful PSUs. Therefore, the owners of systems like that very rarely (if ever) overclock their system processors, because overclocking increases the processor power consumption and heat dissipation quite significantly. Nevertheless, good overclocking potential in reference to a Mini-ITX mainboard may indicate that it is a truly high-quality product. If a mainboard works perfectly fine under significantly increased load in overclocked mode, then it should cause absolutely no problems whatsoever in nominal mode.
Of course, this part of our test session was performed in an open testbed and not inside a crowded Mini-ITX case. Since we used an AMD A8-3800 processor with a locked clock frequency multiplier, the only way to overclock it was by raising the clock generator frequency. As you know, raising this frequency speeds up not only the computational cores of the processor, but also the APU graphics core.
You can check out a special review on our web-site to learn more about the specifics of Socket FM1 systems overclocking.
The first board to leave the competition was Zotac A75-ITX WiFi. The BIOS of this mainboard doesn’t allow changing the clock generator frequency, so there is no overclocking to talk about.
ASRock A75M-ITX mainboard allowed us to increase the clock generator frequency to 116 MHz without losing the system stability. Further overclocking involving integrated processor graphics was impossible, because there were some issues with the image quality on the screen. Therefore, we suspect that the results may be better with an external graphics card, but this wasn’t the goal of our today’s test session.
The screenshot above shows that the maximum processor frequency during our overclocking experiments on ASRock A75M-ITX reached 2.78 GHz, and the graphics core overclocked from the nominal 600 to 696 MHz. This seemingly insignificant overclocking produces 12% higher 3DMark11 scores than in nominal mode.
Gigabyte A75N-USB3 demonstrated good overclocking results. We managed to easily increase the base clock generator frequency from the nominal 100 to 145 MHz. all we had to do was to raise the processor core voltage by 0.15 V and the graphics core voltage – by 0.1 V. as a result, the CPU remained stable at 3.48 GHz with the graphics core working at 870 MHz.
The performance gain in 3DMark11 reached 42%, which is a lot for a miniature mainboard. In terms of overclocking potential, Gigabyte A75N-USB3 is just as good as some full-size products.
However, the winner’s crown in this part of our test session belongs to Asus F1A75-I Deluxe. It demonstrated even better results than Gigabyte based platform and allowed setting 1 MHz higher base clock generators frequency of 146 MHz.
It could be the Loadline Calibration function that helped Asus mainboard here, but in any case, it was the only mainboard that scored 1488 points in 3DMark11, which is 45% better than the performance in nominal mode. The CPU in this case worked at 3.5 GHz frequency and the Radeon HD 6550D core – at 876 MHz.