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Thoughts on an i7 920 / GA-EX58-UD3R / DDR3 1600 setup

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September 17, 2009 6:24:12 PM

I thought I would share my experience getting my GA-EX58-UD3R setup with an Intel i7 920 and DDR3 1600MHz triple channel memory. I learned a lot while trying to get this system stable and hopefully this will help someone in the future who runs into the same issues I did.

On initial boot the GA-EX58-UD3R will automatically set your memory to DDR3 1066 at 7-7-7 timings. I have the OCZ low-voltage DDR3 1600 7-7-7-24 @ 1.65v kit:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The main problem I had with stability was when I set my RAM up to its configured DDR3 1600MHz speed. I set the multiplier up to 12x IIRC, putting it at 1600MHz. This automatically set my Uncore up to 3.2GHz. This is fine and you will be able to be perfectly stable at this setting.

The problem for me was caused by the Gigabyte's BIOS auto settings. When I upped the RAM to DDR3 1600 it auto set my i7's QPI voltage all the way up to 1.43 volts. This, for me and my particular memory, was unstable. I was able to get rock solid stable at my memory's advertised specs (7-7-7-24 @ 1.65v) by manually setting the timings and voltage on my RAM to 7-7-7-24 and 1.66 volts (which ends up reading right about 1.65 after boot). I had to manually set my QPI voltage to 1.33 volts. Intel says the max safe QPI voltage is 1.35 (which is conservative, many people are running at 1.4 - 1.45) so this is a safe place for the QPI voltage to be.

I've heard reports that this OCZ memory will run at 7-7-7-24 at just 1.60 volts. I haven't yet been able to do this on the GA-EX58-UD3R but it is probably possible. Just remember to set your QPI at about 0.33 volts lower than your RAM voltage. This for me seemed to be the sweet spot of stability. Be careful to NEVER run your QPI voltage more than 0.5 volts difference from your RAM voltage.

Anyway, it would be interesting to hear other people experiences with the i7 on a Gigabyte motherboard with "overclocked" RAM (the i7 technically only supports up to DDR3 1066). Here are the settings I used to get my system rock-solid stable:

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
Intel i7 920 processor
OCZ Low-Voltage Platinum 3x2GB triple channel kit (7-7-7-24 @ 1600Mhz / 1.65v)
1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
eVGA 512MB GTS 250 video card

i7 920 - Default Vcore voltage (1.225?.. it reads at around 1.1 on heavy load)
QPI voltage - 1.335
RAM voltage - 1.66
RAM multiplier - 12x (1600MHz)
'Performance Enhance' setting - Standard
Everything else - default or 'Auto'

Note that with DDR3 1600 and therefore "overclocked" QPI/Uncore my i7 runs VERY hot with the stock cooler. With Gigabyte's phase-switch Dynamic Energy Saver enabled I hit 79 degrees Celsius running Prime95. Without the Engery Saver I hit 86 degrees!!! Of course, in real usage, even very heavy games, I never go over 60 degrees. Still, I will be purchasing an after market cooler eventually, especially before I try to overclock this thing.

I highly recommend the phase-switching Dynamic Energy Saver feature of this board. Use the Dynamic Engery Saver application on the mobo's CD, not the one from Gigabyte's web site which for me didn't have the ability to permanently enabling the Engery Saver on reboot without having to run the app.

Some more thoughts:

My power supply's 12v rail shows up wrong in every app I run besides the EasyTune that comes with the board. SpeedFan and others show my 12v rail at 1-3volts! Imagine how I felt when I first saw that and didn't realize it was reading incorrectly! This happened to me using both of my power supplies so it appears to be an issue with this motherboard and the way Gigabyte is showing the 12v rail.

In conclusion:

If you're running "overclocked" RAM (for example, DDR3 1600) try setting your QPI voltage to 0.33 volts lower than your RAM voltage. If you're at 1.65 volts for your RAM like I am, try setting your QPI voltage at 1.335. Then try moving the QPI voltage down-- you may be able to run it even lower, which is always good. And seriously consider getting an after market heat sink and fan. If you are keeping your QPI/Uncore at its default the stock cooler should be fine.

Use the included phase-switching Dynamic Energy Saver. It will save you on your electric bill and allows you to run 5 degrees cooler, all without the slightest decrease in performance. My case's power LED turns off when I'm on the lowest phase setting (idle). Not sure if this is a feature or not but its nice because I can't see into my case to see the phase LEDs on the motherboard so this tells me when I'm in Dynamic Energy Saver mode and on my lowest phase setting.

The included EasyTune6 software is nice. Set your multipliers and timings in the BIOS and then use EasyTune6 to play with voltages while checking stability. You won't have to restart to make your voltage changes active which is nice.

Now all i need are a couple of SSDs in RAID0 and *everything* will be instant. This machine is so fast that you definitely notice the HDD bottleneck. I'm becoming spoiled to where I get upset any time I do something on the machine that isn't "instant."

I guess that's all for now. I welcome any questions from anyone else having issues or concerns about the GA-EX58-UD3R or running an i7 with DDR3 1600 memory.

Cheers,
Devin

More about : thoughts 920 ex58 ud3r ddr3 1600 setup

September 22, 2009 12:44:12 AM

Arghhh!!! Scratch everything I said!!!! Prime95 runs fine but LinX for 3+ minutes and the system shuts itself down! I'm going to get an after market cooler to lower my temps and make sure thats not the problem and I think I will RMA the OCZ RAM because I'm starting to not trust it. I will let you all know what happens. Trust me, if I can find stable settings for the i7 920 @ DDR3 1600 7-7-7 (shouldn't be hard, RIGHT??) I will scream it from the roof tops!

Wish me luck,

Devin
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September 22, 2009 4:03:57 AM

Dude please do yourself a favor. NEVER try to overclock with a stock cooler.

I realize some of the new 1156 cpus run cool enough to overclock with a stock cooler, but its not worth it.

Shell out the 30-50$ for a decent cooler and some good thermal paste. Save yourself some serious potential headaches!! You should be able to really juice that system up with a decent cooler. Have fun!
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September 22, 2009 4:19:18 AM

Thanks Android. I appreciate the pointers. In fact I had just ordered a Cogage True Spirit based on a couple reviews out there showing them pretty close to the TRUE on performance for $20 less... we'll see how it does. I'm not too worried, it will be much more than I have now!

Thanks again 'droid.

Later,
Devin
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a c 177 V Motherboard
September 22, 2009 2:16:19 PM

Quote:
NEVER try to overclock with a stock cooler

...and that's an understatement! The 'stock' coolers are absolutely marginal - they are meant as a 'thermal solution' for 'stock' settings, with all the 'downclock/downvolt' 'energy-saving' features enabled - and those are the first things you'll disable to get a stable overclock! Anything you get from the aftermarket will have in excess of three times the heat moving capacity of that 'free' cooler - at least!
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September 22, 2009 3:29:49 PM

bilbat: Point taken.

Does anyone have experience with the Cogage True Spirit? It was between that, the Scythe Mugen 2 and the TRUE but the TRUE was $20-25 more than the other two. I decided on the Cogage.... I'll let you know how much of a difference it makes. Should be here in 2 days.

Cheers,
Devin
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September 28, 2009 9:35:46 PM

So I received my Cogage TRUE Spirit and installed it. All I can say is that I am VERY impressed. For just $35 (and the TRUE Spirit includes a fan unlike the TRUE 120) I have reduced my temps by 25 degrees celsius! Prime95 now maxes out at 62 degrees and LinX maxes out at 65. Problem solved as far as temperature goes.

The bad news is that I am still not stable @ ddr3 1600 7-7-7. I am currently running @ ddr3 1600 9-9-9 because thats the best settings I've found that are stable. I have RMA's my OCZ RAM and I have Mushkin RedLine ddr3 1600 6-7-6-18 that will be here tomorrow. If that does not do the trick I will likely have to RMA my CPU. That will be very frustrating for me. I have never had a problem with a CPU. However, I have always used AMD until now. I should have saved a few bucks and gone with a slightly slower Phenom II system that wouldn't have given me these headaches.

I will let you know what happens with the new RAM. I also have just noticed that I haven't tried playing with the QPI PLL and IOH Core voltages. We'll see if that helps.

Devin
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September 28, 2009 10:23:48 PM

Before you RMA any more ram you should make sure to set it to factory recommended settings and factory recommended volts.

A common practice is to leave ram ratio at 1:1 with manual set factory timings at factory voltage untill you get your cpu/fsb ratio stable, then play with the ram afterwards. Often times motherboards don't automatically put the ram at the correct voltages and timings

If you do it any other way you might be dissapointed to RMA the cpu and have the same problem...
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September 28, 2009 11:00:12 PM

Android,

I don't quite follow you. First off, I am not overclocking my i7 aside from the QPI/Uncore. Without manually setting my RAM voltage and timings it defaults to 1066 @ 7-7-7 which runs perfectly stable. Are you recommending that I set the FSB up to 1600 and leave memory timings and voltages as default or 'auto'? That may be a good idea to see if the i7 can run at DDR3 1600 at all but now that I think of that I have already verified that by running DDR3 1600 @ 9-9-9 which is perfectly stable.

Please let me know if I am not understanding you correctly.

Thanks,
Devin
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October 1, 2009 2:45:42 PM

Ok guys,

At risk of speaking too soon I will say that I am FINALLY stable! Here's how:

I RMA'd the OCZ Platinum ddr3 1600 7-7-7 triple channel kit. Bought a triple channel kit of Mushkin RedLine ddr3 1600 6-7-6 to replace it and I am now stable but it took 1.435 volts on the QPI so I am still convinced that I got a "weak" i7 920 D0.

Ironically, the 'auto' setting on my EX58-UD3R for the QPI voltage at memory multiplier x 12 = 1600 is 1.435 so I think I am safe. But for others trying -- try 1.325 - 1.375v first. That should work. If that still doesn't work try setting the QPI higher, one notch at a time, up to around 1.45v. If you have to go higher than 1.45 I would say RMA it.

So thats where I'm at currently. This i7 system has been a headache for 1 solid month. Tweaking and testing every day for 30 days. Frustrating. But I am finally happy and willing to help anyone else with this problem because I know how frustrating it can be.


Yay Mushkin! :) 

Cheers,
Devin
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October 1, 2009 3:18:16 PM

Devin,

after our lengthy discussion re i7 memory, I gave some more thought to the matter, and realized it boiled down to one thing - latency; and, with all the speeds proliferating out there, comparing latencies, apples to apples, is high unto impossible. I posted this:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/263947-30-memory-comp...
hoping for comment, and yours was the main comment I was hoping for, as you obviously understand the matter thoroughly! One problem:
The posted picture 'compressed', making the print iffy to try to read, and 'click to zoom' doesn't work on any of my browsers - I don't know if it works for anyone - if you can't read it, the original excel file (so far) is here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?r1jyz2qtzej
I was hoping to see if anyone else could think of something I'm missing - any other criteria that would make it easier to compare i7 (and, if this works out, I will do one for socket 1156 stuff as well) RAM, with an eye toward value. I wanted to get other people's ideas now, as I have a list of about eighty-five parts, and I don't want to have to look 'em all up twice, or three times, as features get added...
I used NewEgg, as everyone (at least, in NA) has access to 'em, and I 'threw out' and part whose manufacturer didn't bother to provide any other timings than CAS (which nixed Kingston, PNY, and some Crucial and Patriot) as what kind of support can you hope for, if they don't even give the standard four-item latency list? It still leaves me with more than six dozen pieces!

Bill
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