Asus P5Q Deluxe Reviewccokeman - June 18, 2008
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On most motherboards produced today there's usually a section of the BIOS that is reserved for adjusting performance, via tweaking voltages, skew rates, memory timings for the CPU, memory and board. The AI Tweaker section of this BIOS is reminiscent of the BIOS seen in the ROG (Republic of Gamers) series of boards from ASUS. With that kind of adjustability, getting performance out of this board should be pretty straight forward. A plus I found while working through the BIOS is that values can be manually input, or selected through a menu - which is, in my opinion, much easier. Let's look and see what's available.
The menu items are set to Auto by default. Setting the items to manual will allow performance to be increased from the stock baseline settings. The CPU ratio can be modified based on the available multipliers for your particular CPU. In this case, its' a Q9450 - so x8 is the maximum. The FSB strap setting for the Northbridge can be adjusted to help increase the FSB potential of your overclock, as well as the performance of that overclock. DRAM frequency is based upon the strap setting and FSB speed of the CPU. Skew rates for each DRAM slot are available to help increase memory overclockability.
The memory sub-timings can be left at Auto to let the BIOS choose what is best, or you can take the plunge and manually set the timings for increased performance. There are three memory sub-sections, so finding the best balance between all out performance and stability could take some time. The Memory OC Charger can also be enabled for maximum memory performance. Just make sure your memory can work with the changes this setting makes.
Voltages can be the key to solving the instability of an overclock, but that sword cuts both ways - you can also make your overclock worse by adjusting the wrong voltage or series of voltages. Asus has given us the tools to reach for the stars, and they made sure the lack of overvoltage capability would eliminate issues with this motherboard. Without adjusting the voltage jumper for the CPU voltage, the maximum possible Vcore is 1.70 volts. By moving the jumper to the overvoltage side, the maximum Vcore bumps up to 2.1 volts. Maximum CPU PLL voltage is reached at 2.78 volts. The GTL reference voltages are adjustable up and down, and are shown as a percentage of the FSB VTT voltage. These settings can provide a measure of stability, but dialing them in just right is a time consuming task.
FSB termination voltage is limited to 1.90 volts - plenty to get the job done. In most cases, this voltage can help increase the FSB potential of the installed CPU, but adjusting the GTL reference voltages can allow this voltage to be set much lower. DRAM voltage is available to 3.08 volts - definitely the death zone for DDR2 memory. But, if you can get one run and validate it, you may just get yourself a new world record.
The rest of the voltages can be adjusted to meet the various needs of each individual system. The Northbridge voltage is capped the same way the CPU voltage is. By moving the jumper to the overvoltage pins, 2.06 volts to the P45 chipset is possible. Northbridge GTL voltages are trial and error for each individual chipset, what works for one may not work for all.
Now, let's see what kind of performance the P5Q Deluxe can generate.