P67 Motherboard Roundupccokeman - March 8, 2011
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Testing this group of P67 based motherboards will include running them through the OCC test suite of benchmarks that include both synthetic benchmarks and real world applications to see how each of these boards perform. The gaming tests will also include a couple of synthetic benchmarks and actual game play to see if similarly prepared setups offers any performance advantages. Each board received a fully updated fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64bit edition and used the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catayst drivers for the HD 5870. In light of the recent announcement from Intel, each board has been re-tested using the SATA 6Gb/s ports.
Testing Setup: Intel Core i5/i7 Socket 1155
- Processors: Core i7 2600K
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: Various
- Memory: Mushkin 996805 Redline PC312800 6-8-6-24 1600MHz 4GB
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD5870
- Power Supply: Mushkin 1000W Joule Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
- ASUS P8P67
- ASUS Maximus IV Extreme
- ECS P67H2-A
- Intel DP67BG
- MSI P67A-GD65
- Processor: Intel core i7 2600K at 103.5 X 48 4966 Mhz
- Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
Bumping the clock speeds up on the new second generation Core i7 is quite a bit different than what we have been used to with the last generation processors. With the Sandybridge processors, BCLK overclocking is pretty much a thing of the past with very little flexibility left above the 100MHz BCLK. Even so, a range of 100 to 108Mhz is possible depending on the CPU. Even so, overclocking the P8P67 WS Revolution could not have been easier. For the most part adjusting the CPU vcore, DIGI+ VRM switching frequency and adjusting the Load Line Calibration will get you most of the way to your goals. There is one setting that will help drive the clock speeds higher if you have a chip that is Turbo Boost Multiplier limited (like my Core i7 2600K). This is the PLL overvoltage option that allowed the test CPU to move from a 44 multiplier limit to a 50 multiplier limit. This opened up a whole new realm of possibility. By manually configuring the BIOS, I was able to net a clock speed of 4966Mhz by using a 48 multiplier and a 103.5 BCLK. This is all well and good but ASUS has a strong contender with its AI Suite II software package that allows the uninitiated into the world of overclocking by using its auto tuning feature. By using this utility I was initially a little disappointed with the 3811MHz clock speed that I reached on an earlier BIOS but that when tested on the Maximus IV, paid huge dividends. When it comes down to it though, a 1.5GHz overclock on a workstation board is nothing to sneeze at. That folks is about a 45% increase in performance for a few minutes of your time minus the stability testing of course.
- Processor: Intel core i7 2600K at 101 X 49 = 4.95 Ghz
- Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 Pro
The overclocking on the Pro gives you many options as to how you would like to go about it. There are software based options, BIOS based automatic options and manual BIOS options to choose from. We chose the manual BIOS based option to fine tune the overclock for our tests. The i7 2600K in the ASUS Pro overclocked with relative ease to a mind bending 4.951 Ghz clock speed with a controllable heat output. The vcore voltage was elevated to 1.48v in the BIOS and the core temperatures never exceeded the low 60's during the testing. This is quite remarkable seeing as how the last generation of Intel processors were known for their enormous heat output that required high-end cooling solutions when overclocking, not even to their maximum potential.
- Processor: Intel core i7 2600K at 101.1 X 49 4955 Mhz
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IV Extreme
Testing the overclocking out on the Maximus IV was really a page out of the playbook of the P8P67 WS but with more options to play with. What I found was that with high-end air or a capable water cooling setup, you can get just about all that your CPU has to offer without resorting to dry ice or more extreme options. Where the P8P67 WS was a little disappointing up front with the results of the auto tuning, the Maximus IV delivered the goods with an overclock of 1.1GHz over the factory 3.4GHz by only starting the Auto Tuning feature in AI Suite II , letting the TPU go to work. Anything higher than 4500MHz with Auto Tune resulted in a lock up or BSOD when a load was placed on the processor. That still is a huge bump in clock speed and where I left off with the Auto tune testing. By staying with the AI Suite for the rest of the manual overclocking, I was able to boost the overclock up another 455MHz to 4955MHz in the operating system and have this clock speed Prime 95 and 3D stable for over seven hours. That's with all of the overclocking done in the operating system. One advantage of the ROG platform are the additional software utilities that allow overclocking from a cable connected netbook with ROG Connect and now an even cooler (read geekier) method that involves using your smartphone to overclock your PC via a Bluetooth connection. I was able to use my Android powered HTC Incredible with the RC Bluetooth application to manipulate the clock speeds and voltages to change the overclock on the fly. So with this handy little tool you no longer need the netbook to do your remote overclocking. On your next visit to a LAN party, just pull out your Android or Apple smartphone and gain that edge with a few quick swipes on the screen. That's all it takes to get big time performance. The maximum speed reached was 4955MHz while overclocking in the OS for roughly the same 45% bump in clock speed as the other two ASUS motherboards in this roundup giving you a realistic expectation of performance with a weak multiplier handicapped CPU.
- Processor: Intel core i7 2600K at 100 X 44 4400 MHz
- Motherboard: ECS P67H2-A
The ECS P67H2-A was an easy overclocker as well with it going right up to the 44 Turbo Boost multiplier limit of my CPU when the PLL overvoltage option is not enabled in the BIOS. The problem is that this option was not available in the BIOS at the time of my testing so a maximum speed of 4400MHz was the limit. What also was a surprise is that with this BIOS, I was not able to increase the Bclock over the 100MHz default setting, limiting the overclocking potential of my CPU. As an overclocking utility, ECS supports the use of Intel's own Extreme Tuning utility that is a functional utility allowing for some serious overclocking potential. While I was only able to reach 4400MHz with this board it was a stable clock speed reached with a minimum of effort. A 1GHz overclock or 30% increase is the most likely minimum you will see with this board but that will of course depend on an updated BIOS or a better CPU to realize the potential of this board. For those of you with better CPUs, the sky is the limit.
- Processor: Intel core i7 2600K at 103.7 X 47 4875 MHz
- Motherboard: MSI P67A-GD65
MSI hands down has the easiest way to overclock without touching the BIOS. MSI's OC Genie one touch overclocking is a button on the motherboard that is pushed before starting the system and it delivers a good solid 25% clock speed increase on the first boot. That 25% is equivalent to an 800+MHz bump in clock speed on my 2600K processor. Your results may vary depending on the strength of you CPU. This solution is faster so far than using the Auto Tune on the ASUS boards. And even though they are getting better, you can't beat pushing a single button and starting the system. No reboots, just a good solid OC. That part aside, Option 2 is that MSI has also revamped their Control Center application to make it more user friendly and functional. Now instead of the lockups and failed starts I used to get, the application let me overclock with impunity in the OS. A huge improvement over the past versions of this application. Option 3 is overclocking in the BIOS. This was an easy chore once the locations for the settings that needed to be changed were located and adjusted. By using the Click BIOS, I was able to bump the BCLK up to 103.7MHz x 47 to reach a speed of 4875MHz. Not quite as high as some of the boards but within 80MHz of the top clocks and an improvement of over 43% above the base clock speeds. 4875MHz will offer a substantial improvement in performance any which way you cut it.
Maximum Clock Speed:
Each CPU has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will provide the performance difference increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.
- Scientific & Data:
- Bibble 5
- Office 2007
- POV Ray 3.7
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02
- Cinebench 10
- Cinebench 11.5
- HD Tune 4.60
- Aliens vs. Predator
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
- Batman Arkham Asylum
- 3DMark Vantage