To get ourselves prepared for the transition towards the next Intel mainstream, namely the P67, I would like to share my personal findings by writing up this overclocking guide to get people to be more familiarized with this platform. Any further comments and suggestions, please do kindly POST after this thread.
First of all, let’s look at the CPU Core speed. The existing Intel Sandybridge CPU has been classified into three categories, being the full unlocked (i.e. the K series), the partial unlocked (the non-K 4 core), and locked (dual core) processors. Up to date, there are only 2 models around, being the 2500K and 2600K. The major difference between the two is with the difference in CPU Ratio and the support of HT, where the 2500K is a 4C4T processor without HT, while the 2600K is a 4C8T processor with HT support, both with the absolute highest CPU Turbo Ratio selectable of 57x as I was told.
To my own experience, there is not really too much work involved to maximize the overclock capability of these two 2 processors. Let’s start with the key power options:
CPU Tweaking under Sandybridge platform:
To maximize the CPU performance on the K series processors, you can try to follow the following flow chart:
For the partial unlocked processors, just raise the CPU Turbo ratio to the highest CPU Turbo Ratio option available, follow by the ensuring:Note:
- It is recommended to keep 「C1E」and「EIST」option enabled for the best overclock capability.
- ALL CPUs provides native support of up to DDRIII-2133 when been used on a P67 platform regardless whether it is a K or not. DRAM Ratio on P67 regardless whether or not it is a K series processor.
- Considering the raise and fall of BCLK results in the relative change of the DRAM frequency, please try to clock down the DRAM to the next highest option available if the current DRAM frequency results in a bottleneck for BCLK overclocking.
- You can also try to trade a few BCLK for the higher DRAM frequency if your DRAM can take it.
- Keep in mind that a higher BCLK is 90% dependent on the CPU, and 10% on the motherboard, meaning that though a better Motherboard can yield you 1~2 MHz difference in BCLK stability, with a CPU does 2MHz of BCLK higher would possibly give you more margin for overclocking at the end.
「C3 Reporting」= Enabled
「C6 Reporting」= Enabled
Doing so will give you the absolute best CPU Ratio. Then follow the same flow chat as the K series, while only doing the BCLK overclocking while with CPU vCore below 1.3V should be able to give you closed to best performance reachable by your processor.
Now let’s get onto some serious business:
OC with K series walkthrough:
Considering we now have the background knowledge necessary for Sandybridge OC, we can now begin our OC journey. Let’s start off with 1.450v CPU VCore, set CPU Turbo Ratio to 44x, then check if it boosts into OS.
After we had an success with booting into OS, we now raise the CPU Turbo Ratio to 45x, then check if we can still boot into OS.
If yes, set CPU Turbo Ratio to 46x, then check OS boot capability again.
If yes, set CPU Turbo Ratio to 47x, then check OS boot capability again.
If yes, set CPU Turbo Ratio to 48x, then check OS boot capability again.
If yes, set CPU Turbo Ratio to 49x, then check OS boot capability again.
Somewhere along the way you will encounter trouble booting into the OS. You can try to increase the Vcore slowly, till around 1.55V (Note: decent CPU is required to raise the CPU Vcore this high). You may eventually find your CPU to top at around the CPU Turbo Ratio of between 48x and 49x, i.e. fails to boot into OS with 49x but 48x does. Now we have gathered the info needed, and let’s move on to the second step, maximizing the overall performance now!
We have talked about previously that BCLK maximizing also maximizes the RAM frequency, and all Sandybridge CPUs support up to DDRIII-2133 DRAM Ratio when been used with P67 chipset regardless if it is a K or not. (A 21.33 x BCLK Ram speed in other words) Other ratios including the 1866 (18.66xBCLK), 1600 (16xBCLK), 1333 (13.33x BCLK) and lower are also available for your pick when needed.
Therefore if you have a set of RAM that can only do 2000MHz and not more, you will have to adjust your BCLK / DRAM Ratio to try to hit as close to this sweet spot as possible. In this case, either 107.2 BCLK with 1866 DRAM Ratio OR 93.7 BCLK with 2133 DRAM Ratio are both ideal choices. For some who may feel disgusted with under-clocking their PCIE (though real world performance difference can be questionable) let us just focus on 107.2 for this example if the CPU boots with this BCLK, considering the BCLK limit DEPENDS 90% on CPU and 10% on the motherboard.
Back on with our walkthrough, now keep the Vcore that you have set previously (Probably 1.40v to 1.50v region), and try to lower the CPU Turbo Ratio to 36x and try to raise the BCLK to a bootable state that is not to surpass the ability of your RAM. You can try going by 0.2MHz steps to speed things up (Yes, you are right, most P67 based motherboards allow BCLK adjustments of 0.1MHz in each step).
Once you have found your Max BCLK, you can now go back and find your MAX CPU Speed by going with 48X and increasing BCLK till it crashes. In this case you should expect to reach something like 4850MHz! This is then the best performance you can squeeze out of your CPU that you should try to target. Finally, set your configuration to the configuration best suit the top performance you have found a minute ago, i.e. 45 X 107.2MHz with 1866 DRAM Ratio (i.e. 4824MHz@DDRIII-2000)
and you are most likely to be able to hit the max all round performance, going by the example above.
If you own a non K processor, then skip the part about the CPU Core ratio and just set the Turbo Ratio to the highest possible option, then find the maximum BCLK, with the minimum Vcore needed of around 1.30V. This should be more than enough for around 4GHz of speed.
So you see it is such a straight forward platform – Much less complicated than P55, X58.
Some commonly asked Questions:
Q: Why does the board need to shutdown at every change of BCLK?
A: Since almost all boards use the Southbridge PCH to generate the base clocks for the CPU. However, as the Intel Management Engine requires such process to make even the tiniest BCLK adjustment of 0.1MHz if that change is done in BIOS.
(1) Making such changes under OS does not suffer from the same limitation.
(2) The higher BCLK you boot with, the more likely you can hit the maximum speed under OS. (ie 105.0MHz boot + adjust to 108.0MHz in OS is easier than 100.0MHz Boot + adjust to 108.0MHz in OS)
Q: How does it do Under Liquid Nitrogen?
A: As the Core frequency scaling capability is inversely proportional with respect to the change of temperature when the CPU temperature goes down too low, the overclock capability of the CPU actually reduces dramatically when it reaches below zero degrees. For example, a CPU may do 5.0GHz @ 0C, but only 4.9GHz @ -40C. The ideal temperature for overclocking the Sandybridge processor under the P67 platform is around 15~20 degrees.
I was lucky enough to have received one of the upcoming P67 board for Christmas, which I have used to write up this overclocking guide. Suppose this is also a good opportunity to showcase it here as well. Please do feel free to read on if you are also interested in this board.Q: What kind of BCLK should we expect to hit?
A: A processor with the capability to raise the BCLK up to 106~108MHz should be considered a good Sandybridge processor in terms of BCLK overclocking.
Q: Is there any specific batch that we should look out for?
A: No Data yet, BUT CPU variance is big so keep watching!
Q: How is its DRAM overclocking capability as compared with P55, X58?
At least on par with P55. However, it is still limited by the ‘2133 ratio + BCLK Limit’ restriction. A good 4x 4GB combination with high DRAM frequency may be expected.
First is the boxing. Nothing fancy from the first glance, just like its older brothers. All features and specifications are marked in the inner cover and the back of the package. You will be able to see the board itself before making the actual purchase. (That is only if I am the one paying for this board of course)
Edit: Thanks massman for pointing that out. These three photo of the actual outer package are provided by Asus as they ran out of proper packaging before package, though I normally just throw them away as I take the motherboard out anyway.
Now let me take the board out to eventually be able to take a closer look at it…
The colors used on this board is very similar to what has been used among all other Asus ROG board, using black and red as its main theme, and a bit of white for a high contrast final touch. The heatsink has been designed with a futuristic look, and of course, with that breathtaking ROG blinking LED logo on it to tell everyone that you have just passed another ROG.
Enough of chat, now let’s go onto business. As it is easier to read from top to bottom, I will start from the power solution. The Maximus IV Extreme continue to adopt the award winning Extreme Engine Digi+ VRM design, which was first found on the Rampage III Extreme, featuring the digitalized power solution with alloy choke, FET+, dual driver, and the ML Cap.
Unlike traditional digital VRM designs, where each power phases are connected in series, which requires a high switching frequency, the Extreme Engine Digi+ found on the Maximus IV Extreme overcame this limitation by changing the VRM structure from serial connection to parallel, allowing the power to be outputted from each individual power phase instead of having to go through all phases to prevent the need of high switching frequency. With the use of high quality parts such as FET+ and alloy choke to enhance the heat dissipation by up to 1.3 times
together with 40% higher conductivity and 25% higher current capability, and the use of dual driver which packaged the PEM controller with two power driver in one, delivering the ultimate power solution that is ideal for Extreme overclockers. Furthermore, with the delivery of up to 5 levels of Load-Line Calibration, with the industry’s most precise control of switching frequency of 10KHz increment and voltage control of as low as 0.005V per an increment plus the ability to make real-time adjustments, opening users with the full control of the onboard power solution like never before.
Below is the combination I have found which allow me to stably push my CPU frequency up by another few BCLK higher, may be worth trying if you own this very same board:
Finally, it is also worth mentioning about its capability to support the software-free implementation of the Asus EPU via BIOS control. Users are now finally able to utilize this power saving feature without any software or additional power calibration process which was once needed on the Asus boards.
One thing I found interesting is that the Asus ROG team seem to have putted more thoughts into the design of the PCI Express lane / slot arrangements to try to maximize the overall performance of the system. Unlike the traditional design of inputting the entire x16 lane of PCIe from the CPU directly into the NF200 PCI Express bridge chip, it actually divide the PCI Express lanes with a set of 4 quick switches to two sets of x8 first
to try to minimize the additional latency introduces by the NF200 in the best way they can. According to their design, you will be able to enjoy completely latency free PCIe connection when one or two cards are connected, and at least one card without such latency when running 3 way SLI or CrossFireX configuration. Below is the table outlining the best PCIe slot utilizing scenario for this board to achieve the absolute performance for your next benchmark:
Out of all available features, the one feature that catches my eyes completely is the USB BIOS Flashback feature, which allows me to flash BIOS with only an USB flash, the board, and PSU (With the AC power cord connected of course.). Yes, no CPU, no DRAM, nothing else is required for either BIOS upgrade, downgrade, or even BIOS recovery.
All I need is the press of the ROG Connect button. Now this is sweet and useful, as I try to fiddle around with my BIOS a lot, I somehow found a feature that make my hobby bulletproof if I continue to use this board.
Also onboard are the following neat features which Asus have added to make the overclocking journey more enjoyable for its users. Though I have yet to be able to have a chance to play with all of them on this board, I still find them interesting, and will definitely try to spare some time to play with all of them if I can. After all, they are already there
and it won’t hurt to play with them to find my own use of them I suppose. Here after is a direct copy from the document that Asus provided me with along with the delivery of this board. Do feel free to read on if you are interested in them.
System Debug and keyboard-free overclocking have evolved a long way in the past years. However, regardless of any existing design, users still cannot gain the full control the system without either opening up the chassis, or simply getting back to the good old trusty keyboard. Thank to the new Asus TweakIt technology via the iROG processor, users can now gain the full control of the keyboard-free overclocking and debug tools wirelessly via their very own Bluetooth device anytime, anywhere.
The remote control, overclock, as well as hardware monitor capability of RC Bluetooth has made its way to the MAC platform. With the new ROG iDirect, users can now gain the full control of the keyboard-free overclocking and debug tools through the USB, Bluetooth or WiFi connections via their very own handhold devices from MAC such as the iPhone, as well as the iPAD, transforming your handy everyday gadgets into a power OC Remote.
The new and polished ROG Connect
As recognized by overclockers worldwide, the Asus TweakIt Technology always come with full of surprises. This new implementation is no exception. Unlike the early design with the need to open up the chassis while dodging through series of cables to reach the onboard buttons, while having the limited display and control capability without the need to install additional software on the working system
users can now kiss goodbye to the limitations of the past, and enjoy the joy of overclocking with the new and improved TweakIt technology, namely the “ROG Connect”. Though it is known that ROG Connect is the one and only solution that allows users to use any separate system as the control terminal of the ROG system to be overclocked, and conduct the last mile overclocking, or watch POST status of the system since the launch of this technology, the development did not end there.
With the newly improved ROG Connect, users are now be able to conduct real-time remote monitor of system health status together with the control capability of the key functions remotely, and of course, the ability to update BIOS remotely even when the system needed such update is not powered up. Finally, and not the least, the 「GPU Tweakit」, allowing its users to tweak the “GPU Frequency”, “GPU Vcore” and “GPU RAM Frequency” remotely, overclocking the VGA card on the fly without generating
Cold-boot bug is a barrier which overclockers often need to face when conducting subzero overclocking with LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen). When cold-boot bug occurred, CPU will no longer POST till it has been warmed up again. The LN2 Mode exclusively supported by Maximus IV Extreme enables users to remedy this limitation, delivering non-stop smooth extreme overclocking capability, which makes Maximus IV Extreme the perfect choice for all overclockers under LGA1155 platform.
Extreme overclockers may sometimes face the hard decision between whether they should reset or force power down the system when the extreme overclocked rig half once in a while, as the press of reset button does not always work, while force power down may often result in freezing the components under S5 mode. This is where Q Reset comes in. With the exclusively design Q Reset button at the top left hand corner of the board, users will be able to clear CMOS then power up in a flash to bypasses S5 mode to avoid the need to face either of these limitations.
EZPlug - More Power for the Power Hungry Monsters
The Maximus IV Extreme comes with two additional set of 4-pin Moles plug, delivering extra power to both the USB 3.0 ports as well as the VGA cards. This enables not only better compatibility with USB 3.0 devices, it is also ideal for the power hungry monster VGA card when conducting extreme overclocking.
PCIe x16 Lane Switch
The five PCIe x16 Lane Switches found at the right hand side of the DIMM slots can be used to disable the PCIe expansion cards installed onto each individual PCIex16 slots. This is ideal for benchmark tests when comparing the difference in performance under different configurations, as it allows quick changes without the need to remove each individual card.
The Asus exclusive Inter-switchable Dual BIOS design allows user to keep two different BIOS versions for different purposes. Users can keep one version for extreme OC, while the other for stable use. BIOS configurations set on the two BIOS chips can also be kept separately, and inter-switchable with simple one touch BIOS switch, making Maximus IV Extreme an ideal choice for all extreme overclockers.
EFI BIOS featuring EZ Mode
Asus has been long known for its rich available BIOS option, the Maximus IV Extreme is not an exception. However, considering the adjustments of the BIOS options has always been a difficult task for the entry level users when building their very own system for the very first time, Asus has hence implemented the most user friendly BIOS interface named EZ Mode. Featuring a simple, clean
yet intuitive user interface listing only the most vital options for everyday usage, the BIOS adjustments become something that is available to all users. Furthermore, the nature of being an EFI BIOS also ensures its future-proof for the new technologies to come.
ROG BIOS Print
The dump of the BIOS setup screen often involves highly trained photographic technique, while the outcome may not always be as satisfactory as it can be. Users can create the BIOS screen dump with a simple press of the 「F12」 key, and the BIOS screen shot will be stored to your USB storage device automatically. ROG BIOS Print, your best friend when sharing BIOS screen with your friends.
Troubleshooting is a long and tedious job, especially when you don’t know what actually fails. Asus GPU.DIMM Post scans through the PCI Express slots for available graphic cards, as well as the presence of DIMM modules installed during POST stage, and displays the result in the BIOS setup screen.
This helps the users to find out if anything has gone wrong with the installation as well as the detection of the device without the need to try and error on their own, allowing users to troubleshoot for the cause of errors with ease.
CPU Socket Monitor
As the numbers of CPU socket pin increases with each new generation of new processors, the CPU became less tolerant to improper installation. In worse cases, the CPU socket may even burn out in the result of short circuiting due to improper installation. CPU Socket Monitor enables the motherboard to detect the temperature of the CPU socket, preventing the CPU socket been burnt due to short circuiting.
AI Suite II
AI Suite II is a user friendly interface combining all popular Asus applications in one single package for flexible use. With the full customization capability covering the add / remove of application module, the change of colour and skin and how the software should auto hide itself when not been used. AI Suite II integrates a large variety of applications covering features from all different, including:
- For System Tweaking:
- TurboV EVO: To enable the instant access to the performance related BIOS options aimed to provide a little more edge when conducting extreme overclocking
- DIGI+ VRM: Allows making direct alternation to the behaviour of the onboard digital VRM in real-time.
- EPU: Allows the access to the intelligent power saving engine onboard, help to save every last penny on your power bill.
- Fan Xpert: Allows the full customization of how the CPU and chassis should work in the like of the users with just a few clicks on the mouse.
- For Real-time Monitoring:
- Probe II: Allows the real-time monitoring of the key voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds together with warning capability to warn the users when any of the readings exceeds the threshold set by the user.
- Sensor Recorder: Allows the users to show the key voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds in a graph for a quick tracking of the system status. Furthermore, an historical record can also be kept for later reference if needed.
- Side bar: There is the display of the sensor and CPU status at the right hand side of AI Suite II to allow instant monitor of the system status when fiddling around with other applications.
- System information: To quickly show the CPU and DRAM info without the need to install any additional third-party applications.
CPU Level UP
Users can enjoy the quick and easy system boost of system performance by selecting the processor users wish to have, and the TPU will handle the rest. With a variety of CPU profiles to choose from, users are able to experience the performance boost just like having a CPU upgrade.
This is yet another exclusive revolutionary feature from Asus, which allows your motherboard to boot even if there might be some compatibility issues between the motherboard and the memory. All the user has to do, is to simple hold the Go Button till the red LED begins to blink to ask motherboard to take the charge of self-memory patching process, and fix the memory compatibility before your very own eyes
till the system finally able to boot up. Once the system completes the system POST, this button will then become the quick and easy OC button, which overclocks your system to your desired settings once been pressed.
iROG is a series of highly specialized microprocessor on the motherboard that makes overclocking easier and more rewarding. Together with AiSuite application inside AiSuiteII, allowing users to make adjustments to the key overclocking related options on the fly
or applied in the next boot sequence whichever way desired. With this specialized microprocessor onboard, users are even able to conduct external control of the BIOS options remotely via desired devices using ROG_Connect and RC_Bluetooth, making the last mile overclocking more rewarding.
Asus ProbeIt allows users to use their own testing equipments to measure the major power sources on the motherboard, allowing display of the most accurate voltage readings externally without the need to spend time on the guesswork to locate each measuring points.
Being able to overclock is good, however, due to the risk of damaging components, it is always a good idea to buy some insurance along with that. The COP EX allows overclockers to increase chipset voltages without the need to worry about overheating. It can also be used to monitor and save a potentially overheating GPU.
In the pursuit of extreme performance, overvoltage adjustment may sometime be necessary, though extensive risks may be brought up along with it. Acting as the "red zone" of a tachometer, the Voltiminder LED displays the voltage status for CPU, PCH, and Memory in an intuitive colour-coded fashion for quick voltage monitoring.
To protect the CPU from the possibilities of been damaged due to over loading above its maximum TDP, the CPU manufacturers specifies a guideline and regulation defining how the voltage behave with respect to raise of the current consumption of the CPU. However, this behaviour also leads to the potential instability in the case of overclocking
where the Overclockers has to raise the CPU Vcore higher than it should just to compensate the result of this effect. This is where Load-Line Calibration comes into play, where the CPU Vcore will be raised automatically to compensate its drop due to the change in current consumption, allowing the CPU to be clocked higher with a lower CPU Vcore configuration.
Overclockers often need to keep a number of BIOS configurations for different purposes such as the optimization for different benchmark applications. Furthermore, considering the CMOS clear is so widely used by Overclockers, this cannot be ideal if the configuration gets cleared along with the CMOS clear process.
This is where the idea of the OC Profile came from, not only allowing users to store up to eight sets of secured configurations on the motherboards, the capability to save and load to the USB storage device also making it flexible for any purposes, including experience sharing with other Overclockers.
Asus Q-Shield is the first in the industry to deliver convenience and safety to DIY users. The revolutionary design makes the tedious and tiring job a joy, at the same time when preventing the chances for making cuts in the fingers of system builders when installing I/O Shield.
Connecting front panel I/O is another tedious yet tiring job when building systems, especially when the chassis happens to be either compact, or in abnormal shapes, as it is difficult to connect the small pins into their respective headers in the set order. With Q-Connecter in hand, users can arrange all cables prior going into the chassis, making system building one more step closer to joy rather than pain.
This is yet another innovative feature Asus has added onto this motherboard. In order to avoid the need to remove large graphic cards when changing DIMM modules, ASUS has hence developed the Q-DIMM memory slots, with single sided latch, it does not only avoid the possible conflicts with large graphic cards on the topmost PCIex16 slot, yet makes the memory removal process faster and easier.
In order to reduce the difficulty of removing large VGA cards from PCI Express slots, while still being able to secure the card in place when been installed, Asus has developed the Universal PCI express slot with auto-lock and easy unlock capability. With the presence of Q-Slot, removing multiple large graphic cards no longer cause headaches no matter how big the cards are.
Users often wonder around don’t know what to do when system fails to boot up properly. Through more experiences trouble shoots system failures with debug tools such as PC speaker and Debug Card, the troubleshooting process is still long and tiring. This is why Q-LED was introduced, to give users the direct indication to where the problem might be, in order to resolve the boot failures faced. All users have to do, is to check which Q-LED stays on when boot failure occurs, and the cause of boot failure may be spotted.
Though it is already convenient to read the POST status with both ROG_Connect and Q-LED, there are still some advanced users who would like to find out the exact state of POST sequence off the board directly. This is where the Debug LED played its role in the game.
Users can now make use of Q-LED and Debug LED along with the reference table of the POST code to find out exactly where the POST error occurred, making trouble shooting easier to achieve.
EZFlash2Available onboard are three function switches to allow easy access to the most commonly used functions without the need to short front panel pins. The available function buttons are:
Start: For instant access to power the system ON or OFF outside chassis.
Reset: For instant access to the system power resets outside chassis.
CLRTC: For instant access to CMOS Clear without the need to fiddle around with jumper pins to complete the CMOS clear process.
Q-Reset: For the instant reset of the system CMOS without interfering without facing cold bug issue while conducting extreme OC using LN2.
Go Button: For the quick and easy heal to DRAM related boot failures or the read in of user defined OC profile. TPU will tweak and tune the DRAM configurations in the event of a quick 2 second press of the MEMOK! button during POST failure or from S5 shutdown state. Users will be able to load the OC Profile via the quick press of this button once the BIOS has passed the complete POST process.
BIOS Switch: For an instant switch between different BIOS chip along with their BIOS settings.
LN2 Mode Switch: For the boost of OC capability when conducting subzero OC using LN2.
PCIEX16 Switch: For a quick and easy control of PCIe lane. User can switch off any cards installed onto the four PCIex16 slots simply by a flip of the switch.
In the past, the BIOS update process requires a functional operating system, or at least a bootable storage medium to conduct BIOS update process via command line. However, as bootable storage medium may not be so simple to prepare at present date due to the unavailability of handy tools to complete such tasks. This is where EZFlash2 comes to play. With the ability to read from virtually any storage medium partitioned as either FAT16 or FAT32 directly from the BIOS configuration menu, making BIOS update process much easier in terms of the work involved.
Q-Fan Plus, the third generation of Q-Fan implementation extends its capability of being able to adjust fan speed automatically with respect to the temperature detect to achieve quiet and efficient cooling. With Q-Fan Plus, not only the CPU and chassis fan will be dynamically managed base on the raise and fall of the CPU temperature, special temperature sensor cables are also provided to allow temperature detection of up to 3 additional locations or devices. This extends the fan speed management capability, allowing a more flexible usage of fans.
Fan Xpert allows users to design their very own fan curve with ease. With a few simple drag and puts of fan curve, users can now design their very own fan control curves for the CPU fan whenever desired. Furthermore, for non-windows users can also make the use of the newly improved Q-Fan option in BIOS to design their very own CPU curve as desired.
Lastly (yes, this is really the end of this long review, I promise… (at least for today that is…) the other specs of this board are as rich as can be with such a limited number of PCIe lanes they can utilize. With 10 USB 3.0 ports (front and rear all together of course), from the NEC USB 3.0 controller and the VIA bridge chip, and 4 SATA 6Gb/s ports each with full bandwidth (as oppose to having two ports sharing the same 500MB/s bandwidth from one lane of PCIex1.) all with full RAID support, and dual Premium Intel LAN chip onboard, I really cannot find a reason to criticize the design of this board too much.
Coming soon, the actual benchmark results…