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Four 975X Motherboards For Core 2 Duo

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October 11, 2006 10:51:39 AM

Intel's Core 2 Duo is the best desktop processor, but which is the best motherboard? We took a look at four 975X offerings from Asus, Foxconn, Intel and MSI.
October 11, 2006 11:47:36 AM

I really wish they would do an in-depth comparison of overclocking and baseline performance for the whole range of Core2 motherboards, whether 975X or 965. I know the 965 actually beats out the 975X in several respects, but I'd like to see some hard data on it.
October 11, 2006 12:04:28 PM

nice article
i hope that when the nforce 590 intel edition and r600 comes out
you guys make an in-depth comparison with all three types
because i still don't know what to buy :cry: 
Related resources
October 11, 2006 12:04:50 PM

Can these boards be underclocked to get an 805D in there, and then overclock the proc from there back up to 667 or 800 FSB? I have an 805D proc lying around that I really want to use, but I want to buy a board that is Core2 Duo compatible.

Also, does anyone know if you can underclock boards w/ Nvidia's 570 and 590 chipsets? I would prefer to use one of those as I have a 7900GT graphics card and would like to go SLI some day. But if I have to I will use a 975X board.

Thanks

fourstar77
October 11, 2006 1:11:44 PM

I'm fairly certain most mobo's that support Conroe can support most other LGA775 procs.

I find it odd that Tom's had so many problems with their P5W, since it is considered the premire Conroe board, although the MSI is nice. I wanted to see the Abit AW9-Max on there... shrug
October 11, 2006 2:13:00 PM

it certanly is odd, i just bough the P5W DH Motherboard, and overcloking never has been for easy for me.

I have ranged from P5N32-SLI, A8R32-MVP, MSI Boards all top of the line at their arrival. And never have i been able to boot at 67 Mhz Overclock without adjusting anything. Im sure if i spend 20 mins, i can reach 400 stable FSB, but i don't have the memory to support it.
October 11, 2006 2:16:41 PM

Quote:
Intel's Core 2 Duo is the best desktop processor, but which is the best motherboard? We took a look at four 975X offerings from Asus, Foxconn, Intel and MSI.
I found two things interesting with the P5W. Firstly, running the RAM @1066 hurt a few of the benchmarks even though the latency was lower. Second, i wonder why the P5W(running the RAM @ both settings) took such a nose-dive in the Photo-Shop bench? :?
October 11, 2006 2:32:19 PM

One thing the article doesn't point out is that overclocking on the D975XBX can be a royal PITA. Unless you have a C2D extreme, you only get the option to go +/- 30% FSB speeds. This adjustment also changes your memory speed by +/- 30%, which can make it a pain, although still possible, to get a 1:1 FSB to memory ratio. On the plus side of things, since I didn't notice that it changed my memory speed at first, I found out that my Patriot 667mhz memory can operate at ~850 mhz. Gets a little unstable after that though. I have an E6600 that I have running at ~ 3ghz right now, with +25% burn-in, which is running at ~333 x 9. I want to take it to 3.6 ghz with a 400mhz FSB but +30% burn in is only ~350mhz.

You can download the Intel Developers Toolkit to adjust your default bios settings and change the default FSB for your proc, but I haven't been able to get the settings to take yet.

So, although not impossible, theres still a lot more work envolved on this board if you want to overclock a non-C2D extreme processor to high levels.
a c 123 V Motherboard
a b å Intel
October 11, 2006 5:21:41 PM

Quote:
However, we could not convince our test sample to run at the overclocked 333 MHz system speed (FSB1333), which shouldn't be hard to reach these days. The system kept crashing after few seconds.


Odd there are people running over that....well at least so i hear...and i am at 333....at least for now....

Quote:
Also, we would have preferred to change the RAID settings for the Silicon Image secondary storage controller in software rather then setting an old-fashioned jumper.


It's not a storage controller in that sense....i mean it is just a device designed for hardware raid on external and internal boxes(ones that are os independent and use just one sata cable). As such it just goes to the missing sata port from the intel controller....but i guess they could have used a chip(ic of some kind) to set it....but in a bios reset...that may cause bad things....i like that the jumper setting will stay no matter what...


note the External Disk :) 
October 11, 2006 5:41:33 PM

Quote:
However, we could not convince our test sample to run at the overclocked 333 MHz system speed (FSB1333), which shouldn't be hard to reach these days. The system kept crashing after few seconds.


Odd there are people running over that....well at least so i hear...and i am at 333....at least for now....

This is odd, I'm running my E6600 / P5WDH at 356 FSB (3.2GHz), at stock voltages, without any problems. It does go even higher, but I want a silent system ;)  (Zalman 9500 @ 1800 rpm)
The only catch was to allow automatic memory timings instead of manual
October 11, 2006 6:30:58 PM

I'm still thinking something is screwy with their P5W-DH... since it's also supposed to be the best OC'er out there. Either that, or they should get wusy to go and OC for them =P
October 11, 2006 6:42:02 PM

I'm almost certain there's something wrong with their P5W DH. I have had mine since three weeks now and can overclock well behond what they reach stably. I've seen Prime85 torture tests of 24 hours and more at FSBs higher then 1333 on this board without a single problem.

Plus, for those who want to purchase this board and might be affraid of the Raptor 150 GB issue they seem to have. I have a WD1500ADFD-00NLR1, Firmware 20.07P20, the exact same as theirs. No problem booting at all, detected 100% of the time without a single hiccup.
October 11, 2006 7:01:19 PM

Agreed!

Wusy should be crowned as Overclock Guru :trophy: :p 

Also, I've read somewhere, that P5W DH Deluxe motherboards vary in overclocking capability, just like CPUs do.

For instance, yes, my motherboard can push my E6600 to 3.6 GHz (400 * 9). Can it load windows though? No. But how many people have actually gotten their computer to POST at that speed? Before I got water cooling, my computer wouldn't even POST. My best guest is I need to find a better way cooling the NB. My water cooler is only designed to cool the CPU.

IMO, the ASUS P5W DH motherboard is great! I just wish Intel would let ATI continue making their chipsets for Intel based boards. Else, I'm going to be :evil:  because I just got an ATI X1900XT 512 GDDR3 card and I'm loving it!

Hmm.... so, if people can get SLI to run on ATI Crossfire boards using hacked drivers, can we also run Crossfire on SLI boards with hacked drivers? (I haven't read or heard anything about this yet)
October 11, 2006 7:40:25 PM

Quote:
I'm fairly certain most mobo's that support Conroe can support most other LGA775 procs.


I think the only issue is that the 805D is a 533 FSB proc, not 800 like the other procs in the family. However the 805D has been shown to OC to an 800 FSB, so I just wanted to see if you could underclock the FSB on these boards to get the 805D started, and then work your way up to 800 FSB.

Any further comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
October 11, 2006 7:43:26 PM

All motherboards that support Core 2 Duos are backward capatable as long as it's an LGA 775 socket.
October 11, 2006 8:10:33 PM

Regarding the Asus P5W-DH Deluxe:

Quote:
However, we could not convince our test sample to run at the overclocked 333 MHz system speed (FSB1333), which shouldn't be hard to reach these days. The system kept crashing after few seconds.


I'm running mine currently at 360x9 (3.24) with an E6600. This board rocks, it's very stable. (Could the authors problem be bios? At least get the test boards bios up to 1305, if not 1407...)

Regarding storage:
Quote:
Also, we would have preferred to change the RAID settings for the Silicon Image secondary storage controller in software rather then setting an old-fashioned jumper.


It's not a storage controller in that sense....i mean it is just a device designed for hardware raid on external and internal boxes(ones that are os independent and use just one sata cable). As such it just goes to the missing sata port from the intel controller....but i guess they could have used a chip(ic of some kind) to set it....but in a bios reset...that may cause bad things....i like that the jumper setting will stay no matter what...

...

Actually, I think there is some confusion there...
This is my understanding of the numerous SATA setup on the board.
--The JMicron controller is the eSATA, as well as a single internal controller, most likely you won't use this.
--The SII controller hosts the EZBackup chipset. This is what is being referred to regarding being set by jumper. By default, it does software Raid1, but can be configured to do Raid0 by setting the jumper, and changing a bios setting to re-read the jumper setting.
I would also note, that during a Windoze install, when using the EZBackup ports, the drive just shows up as a single drive with no storage controller driver required from floppy.
--Intel Matrix controller. The default port(s) for single drive, or Raid5.

Now for the interesting part. I'm curious as to the Raid0 configuration that was used during the testing! From the article, reference is made to changing the jumper, which I assume is for using the SII (EZBackup) Raid option.

My setup is Raid0 as well. I ran some basic benchmarks for R, W, and SyncR/W on the SII (EZBackup), as well as Intel controllers both in Raid0.
Findings: Intel controller smoked the EZBackup controllers in performance.

I'm surprised I haven't seen this posted anywhere, as the default config for Raid0 (as per manual...), is the SII (EZBackup) controller (changing jumper and bios setting for Raid0)... But the performance gain of taking the time to configure software raid, and load your OS using the storage driver required to use the intel ports is very worth the time and effort.

Would love to see the test results reflect this configuration.. :) 

Thanks,
-John

**Edit: Bleh, added what board I'm referring to!
October 11, 2006 10:29:35 PM

Quote:
I'm still thinking something is screwy with their P5W-DH... since it's also supposed to be the best OC'er out there. Either that, or they should get wusy to go and OC for them =P

Yep -- BIOS 0901.. 14XX BIOSes have been out for more than a month :roll:
a c 123 V Motherboard
a b å Intel
October 12, 2006 3:38:46 AM

Well actually Asus just stuck a Easy Backup plate on it....it is a SiI 4723

and that is a Hardware device.....the not software....yes asus does have an option in the bios......to tell it that the mode is changed....and to allow raid across various controllers....but its main point is to be a hardware controller.....and it does a fine job of it IMO......

As far as the software for easy back-up.....it may just talk to the device....to see what it's doing.....but for raid....it's all hardware :) 

Linkage

Quote:
My setup is Raid0 as well. I ran some basic benchmarks for R, W, and SyncR/W on the SII (EZBackup), as well as Intel controllers both in Raid0.
Findings: Intel controller smoked the EZBackup controllers in performance.

guess i will have to give it a try.....how fast did you get? the intel one may have an advantage of caching too....
October 12, 2006 4:29:51 AM

Guys, I am really a noob on this OC thing and mostly on all technical stuff.
I would like a simple and straight advice.

I am planing to buy a new computer for me. My main use is games and my second use is professional photography and web browsing and other basic applications.

Since I can´t spend much money on the start I was planing to buy something that I could possible make an upgrade in the future. I learned the hard way with my last computer that I must now carefully choose the itens of the computer in a way that even not using it I can add or upg it in the future.

I ended reading the D805 OC article on Tomshardware and became very interested.

As a starting point I decided to choose my board the same as the article soo I would not have surprises. I mean if that worked for them, should work for me too.

I decided the Asus P5WD2-E Premium, because not only it is capable to OC the D805 to 4.1ghz but also have a lot of nice features and I THOUGHT it would accept the new processors up to X6800. But what I read in this new article worried me a lot (Four 975X Motherboards For Core 2 Duo) "Unfortunately, you cannot run a Core 2 Duo processor on existing 975X motherboards, because the new processor requires a new platform feature."

Does this mean I will NOT be able to use the X6800 in the future to upgrade my rig if I buy the P5WD2-E Premium now or this mobo is ok to use the X6800?

In the case the P5WD2-E Premium can´t work with the X6800 my only option is to choose one of the 4 mobos in the article?

Choosing one of the 4 mobos (I might choose Asus or MSI) will I be able to use this mobo with the D805 CPU OVERCLOCKED to 4.1ghz at the present time?

And finally what you more experienced guys would recomed for overall good OC and features, the Asus or the MSI?

Thanks a lot
Felcas
October 12, 2006 5:04:25 AM

One more matter came to me while diging for more info.

I will start with one GPU but I pretend to upg my righ with one more GPU to make it TWO in SLI.

In this URL you can see that both CPUs need (or at least appeared to me to be needed) a mobo with chipset 975X.

I read several places that there is some mobos wich have ATI or Nvidia chipsets. What they are for?

Are they needed to make a SLI configuration?

What if I choose a diferent mobo with NVIDIA chipset? I will still be able to use the D805 or the X6800?

Here and here are a few example of modern mobos with diferent chipsets.

What VIA and SIS chipsets are used for? Are they just compactible with certain intel chipsets just coming with more features from this companies?


Again Thanks a lot
Felcas
October 12, 2006 5:05:57 AM

Whoa....

Either I'm really tired, or can't see straight...

Can you run that by me in plain english?
October 12, 2006 5:07:05 AM

at stock V? damn, i have to up my vcor sto 1.565 and mch to 1.65
October 12, 2006 5:07:32 AM

Ok, let me try again...

the 975X chipset for Core 2 Duo are pretty much Crossfire. You can run SLI using hack drivers though.

Hope that helps.
October 12, 2006 5:32:11 AM

deleted
October 12, 2006 5:33:40 AM

Quote:
Whoa....

Either I'm really tired, or can't see straight...

Can you run that by me in plain english?


Sorry, english is not my native language, but perhaps if you make an effort or read that again tomorrow when you should be rested and answer more questions I will apreciate very much.

I just want some help here, were I live our aquisition power are much less then were you probably live and soo I need to be very carefull with what I buy. My last computer is a P IV 1.7ghz and it is crawling after almost 5 years of use. Now I need to buy a new one and I am just tring to get some good info before I do so.

Thank you
Felcas
October 12, 2006 6:05:44 AM

Quote:
Well actually Asus just stuck a Easy Backup plate on it....it is a SiI 4723

*nod*
Considering it's a hardware device, with my 74gb(16mb cache) Raptors, it performs poorly compared to even a 3Ware 8006SATA Raid card.

Quote:
As far as the software for easy back-up.....it may just talk to the device....to see what it's doing.....but for raid....it's all hardware :) 

Not so worried about the software for EZBackup. That's just what Asus refers to those ports as. I believe the "easy" part, is that it is an automatic Raid1 without having to manually configure your disks for Raid1, nor requiring drivers when loading the OS. *shrug*

Quote:
guess i will have to give it a try.....how fast did you get? the intel one may have an advantage of caching too....


Numbers shown are from 3 test runs of just the "Disk" test in Passmark's Performance Test v.6.0 (http://www.passmark.com/).
Tests were:
(R) - Disk - Sequential Read in MBytes/Sec.
(W) - DIsk - Sequential Write in MButes/Sec.
(RW) - Disk - Random Seek + RW in MBytes/Sec.

These were all run from the same harddrives. Clean install of windows for each test (well, each platform, I didn't format/reinstall 3 times on each config... :)  ), with all Windows updates (XP-SP2), and latest version of all drivers installed from Asus' website.

3Ware 8006 SATA Hardware PCI raid card in Raid0:
R: 95.8, 95.7, 96.9
W: 85.3, 84.3, 85.3
RW: 6.6, 6.6, 6.7

SII (EZBackup) SATA Raid0:
R: 80.7, 81.4, 81.4
W: 99.3, 99.0, 99.2
RW: 3.8, 3.8, 3.8

Intel ports in Raid0:
R: 154.7, 154.9, 157.3
W: 150.4, 151.8, 153.2
RW: 10.6, 10.8, 10.5

Again, if it was just a slight difference... I'd have just stayed with the SII ports.. but that's a HUGE difference. *shrug*

Considering Disk performance is releavant for several of the tests performed in the article... I would almost think that this would have a bearing on the results.. *shrug*

-John
October 12, 2006 6:15:18 AM

I am running my 6600 at 3.6 ghz 400x9 with my P5W DH Deluxe no problem, and on air cooling (Scythe infinity). 24 hour orthos stable, never had any issues at all. TH obviously got a bad board. The P5W rocks for overclocking!
October 12, 2006 2:09:28 PM

Hi Patrick
I'm a little disappointed that the range of 975 mobo's doesn't include any of the abit offerings. From what I've seen, they are the clear performance champions in almost every regard.
It's like running a race without the star performer to make it competitive.:-)
Oops, maybe I'm bias, but results worldwide seem to be positive for the abit boards. Anyone else interested in seeing some abit results?
October 12, 2006 4:04:55 PM

Quote:
Hi Patrick
I'm a little disappointed that the range of 975 mobo's doesn't include any of the abit offerings. From what I've seen, they are the clear performance champions in almost every regard.
It's like running a race without the star performer to make it competitive.:-)
Oops, maybe I'm bias, but results worldwide seem to be positive for the abit boards. Anyone else interested in seeing some abit results?


... Really hate to break this to you... but either Abit got into the game a little late, or thye haven't been showing results like the other boards for overclocking.

Hate to link to a site that could be competition to THG ( gotta show <3 for the THG), but if you check a reasonable listing of people listing their overclocking rigs, I don't see a SINGLE abit board on the list...
http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1075792

(BTW, that's a superb resource for getting settings, and seeing just what some of the different board, memory, and chips can do "on average"... Note that it's always possible that you can get a bad board, or a not-so-good chip... that happens as well.

Anyway, nothing against Abit (both Abit boards I have had in the past failed on me.. so I only buy Asus now...), but it almost appears they're sitting this one out... ?

-John
a c 123 V Motherboard
a b å Intel
October 12, 2006 5:57:06 PM

Quote:

Intel ports in Raid0:
R: 154.7, 154.9, 157.3
W: 150.4, 151.8, 153.2
RW: 10.6, 10.8, 10.5


NICE!!!!!

just ran mine.....off to the intel one for me....at least to test.....
October 12, 2006 9:39:27 PM

Quote:
Hi Patrick
I'm a little disappointed that the range of 975 mobo's doesn't include any of the abit offerings. From what I've seen, they are the clear performance champions in almost every regard.
It's like running a race without the star performer to make it competitive.:-)
Oops, maybe I'm bias, but results worldwide seem to be positive for the abit boards. Anyone else interested in seeing some abit results?


... Really hate to break this to you... but either Abit got into the game a little late, or thye haven't been showing results like the other boards for overclocking.
Hey John, Not sure if they were invited for this one, but after doing some searching I came up with these results, seems abit is doing pretty damn well...
http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=6953&page=8
http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/961/abit_aw9d_max_moth...
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2006/09/01/first_look_...
http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/abit...
http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?page=8167&he...

From what I hear, the AW9D-MAX is VERy difficult to get hold of, out of stock in lots of places. AB9-PRO is easier to find.
Asus is ok, but for extreme OC, u have to goto specialists, not generalists.
October 12, 2006 10:16:50 PM

Great info on the Abit AW9D-Max board!
(Looks like for ABit fans, that's the board to go with for C2Duos).

To clarify, it does look like this is a much more recent offering on the market than some of the already known overclockers... I look forward to seeing more of these in the wild in the near future!

For people that didn't want to review all 5 links: 2 of the links above were simlpy "Hey this board exists", and one was for an AM2 chip... ;)  but the TweakTown and Bit-Tech reviews were very well done.

I too would love to see some benchmarks comparing it to the boards in the THG review. :) 

-John
October 12, 2006 10:26:01 PM

Quote:

NICE!!!!!
just ran mine.....off to the intel one for me....at least to test.....


I'm very interested in your results. It was an eye opener for me.. I was expecting that the numbers could be different.. but THAT different??
If you don't mind posting something when you run the tests, I'd appreciate it... just to make sure I wasn't seeing things.. ;) 

Were your results on the SII chip similar to mine?

-John
October 18, 2006 7:08:13 AM

quick question regarding the Intel Motherboard.

are the Silicon Image SATA Ports RAID 5 capable as shown on page 6 on the spec sheet?
October 19, 2006 2:29:21 PM

I purchased the MSI 975x Platinum PowerUp motherboard based partially on this review and a review at another site and while it is great when it boots up and is running, it has some serious problems booting when you change any of the CPU or memory settings. I have CPU at stock speed, and the memory set to 2.4v (which is what my ram requires) & DDR2-800 and on reboots it sometimes hangs before post. Other times you start it up it cycles on and off, never reaching post either. Sometimes it says "Overclocking failed" even though I only changed ram settings. Very strange. I have the latest official bios (7.1), and supposedly there are a number of beta bios's available, but it doesn't seem wise to use those.

Another issue that is driving me nuts is there is no bios USB keyboard support. I have USB Keyboard support enabled, but I have to have a PS2 keyboard plugged in to change any settings. So dumb.

I am wondering if Tom's Hardware saw any of these problems and if not what bios they are using? Anyone else have any ideas? I see a lot of people with boot/restart problems on other forums.
October 21, 2006 10:02:05 AM

@pannival: i am wondering myself if the specs are that correct regarding raid levels (even i generally trust tomshardware). on page 8 the msi board is also specified as raid 5 capable but i couldn't find any confiming infos on the msi page or anywhere so far. but as far as i know the intel matrix storage technology generally should support raid level 5.

another big question regarding onboard raid solutions is their impact on cpu usage since most of the onboard raid chips provide something that would be closer to a software raid then a real harware raid because the controller uses the cpu for its calculations and there is most likely no internal raid cache etc.
further, from what i've seen so far, you could get into big troubles if you want to run/install linux/unix from/to that raid array. lots of unsolved mysteries ;) 


@limiter: i am currently running some rather old msi k7n neo board but i remember that i used to have the same problems with usb keyboards until one day where a bios update came out fixing these problems. poor that it all seems to start over, but until this matter (maybe) gets fixed, here is a little hint that might help until then:
right when the mainboard is initialised (typically when you see the msi logo) pull the usb jack out and put it back in quick. in my case, the keyboard worked fine then and i could enter the bios setup etc. you gotta be quick and its not very elegant but at least it might work in the meanwhile. i would consider writing a short email to msi taiwan and tell them about this issue, the have the shortest link to their developers and usually are thankful about feedback like that.
also, not all usb keyboards are affected, i got a wireless logitech with which i experienced the problems while using a friends microsoft wireless usb keyboard worked fine... maybe thats why only a few people notice these troubles...

cheers - antiplex
November 6, 2006 12:11:01 PM

So, if I read this correctly, the main reason to prefer the MSI 975X Power Up to the ASUS P5W DH Deluxe is the apparently much higher price of the P5W DH. This seems a bit odd, since at least around here (Denmark) both boards carry a very similar price tag.

The MSI 975X Power Up costs DKR 1639 in a local shop, whereas the ASUS P5W DH Deluxe costs DKR 1664 in the same shop. The current exchange rate for USD/DKR is 5.85, which prices the MSI and ASUS boards at $280 and $284 respectively, although usually with costs etc added into the exchange rate 1:10 is more realistical. This would price the boards at $164 and $166.5 respectively.

The above mentioned prices are typical, and I can see in Germany for instance the price difference between the MSI and the ASUS board is similar, although both are slightly cheaper than in Denmark.

Considering then that the prices are more or less identical, wouldn't that make the ASUS board the top choice? Unless the "teething problems" cannot be ironed out by a BIOS update...
!