So, let’s take a closer look at the overclocking friendly features of our today’s testing participants:
As we see, the overclocking potential of the boards tested are very much different. First of all, I would like to stress that only two mainboards of the whole bunch allowed adjusting the CPU multiplier. They are Leadtek K8N Pro and Albatron K8X800 ProII. In fact, this feature is considered to be not that important today, for the reasons mentioned above. However, as soon as new Socket754 processor models come out the availability of such a function may appear very important for successful overclocking. You should keep that in mind if you are planning your system to last for at least a year or more. At the same time it is quite possible that more mainboards acquire this feature in the future especially after the new BIOS versions will come out. Moreover, most mainboards allow only a slight processor Vcore increase. The most popular maximum today is 1.7V, which is only 0.2V above the nominal Vcore value. If you need to set your processor core voltage higher than 1.7V, then your mainboard should be MSI K8T Neo or Albatron K8X800 ProII.
You can get more information about the overclocking potential and features of the testing participants from the tables above. So far, we are going to dwell on a bit more practical aspect. We tried to overclock our test AMD Athlon 64 3200+ CPU on each mainboard from the bunch. During this overclocking experiment we used the regular boxed cooler. We increased the processor Vcore to 1.65V (or lower than that if the mainboard didn’t allow this voltage setting) and raised the bus frequency until the mainboard couldn’t run stably any more. We tested the stability by running 3DMark2001 SE and 3DMark03 test packages. If we couldn’t go through with these settings, we reduced the HyperTransport frequency multiplier and tried to go on. The AGP/PCI frequency was locked at 66MHz for all mainboards on NVIDIA nForce3 150. The picture below shows how far we managed to speed up the CPU this way for each given mainboard:
As we see, the clock frequency slightly above 2.3GHz is the maximum for our CPU. This way we can conclude that the following mainboards fulfilled the set task successfully: Albatron K8X800 ProII, Leadtek K8N Pro, ASUS K8V Deluxe, Gigabyte GA-K8N and Chaintech ZNF3-150. Although we had to reduce the HyperTransport frequency multiplier below the nominal value for Leadtek K8N Pro and Gigabyte GA-K8N.
Other mainboard didn’t prove suitable for overclocking needs for various reasons. Some of them lacked the opportunity to increase CPU Vcore, the others, such as MSI K8T Neo, for instance, simply failed to pass the overclocking tests.