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Maximize P55A-UD4P Performance

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January 15, 2010 6:34:43 PM

I am trying to get the best performance out of the computer in my sig as possible. Not necessarily overclocking; just the best possible performance without losing any stability. The computer is primarily a graphics/video workstation so CPU and memory are important because of programs like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere CS4 that use lots of RAM and CPU. I understand the basics of overclocking but; at this point; I've only had this motherboard for a few weeks and some of the BIOS settings are still a little beyond my complete understanding so I figured it would be a good idea to ask for a little advice.
My first question would be about memory. The Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600(PC3 12800) is running at 1367.3 MHz in dual channel mode at 9-9-9-24, DDR voltage is 1.584v. XMP is disabled, SPD is AUTO, all the mobo DRAM voltage settings are on AUTO. Pretty much the default installation settings. Is there anything that can be done to get a little more juice out of the memory, or is this about as good as it gets without any instability?
The CPU looks pretty set; Non-Turbo is 2871 MHz, Turbo is 3008 MHz, idling nice and cool at 31C. I installed the Intel i7 Gadget to check out the CPU action. The CPU Smart Mode is AUTO and CPU Smart Fan Control Enabled. All the CPU and system fan warnings; as well as the CPU Warning Temp warning are disabled. I'm thinking I might like to have the CPU Temp warning enabled; what's a good threshold temp for the CPU warning? Probably a good idea to enable the fan failure warnings as well?
I think those are my main questions. Any other insight or advice is more than welcome. Pretty sure I am going to get an Intel X-25 SSD for the boot drive and it should be good to go.

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January 15, 2010 7:12:32 PM

(1) Enable XMP and select profile 1.
I have the 55-UP4 also (my memory is Ripjaw Cl7). Using that profil, it set my bClk to 160 and the CPU multiplier to 17 (17 x 160 = 2.87 GHz). Then I just set the multiplier to 20 and instant 3.2 GHz.

(2) If you have easytune 6 installed, there is a tab for overclocking.
Later I tried Gigabytes OC program and selected the 3.8 GHz. That uped the CPU voltage and set bclk to 200 - Ran stable, but Hot - 70C. I reset the multiplier to 18 and lowered the Vcore voltage to just above stock - Runs great.

NOTE: monitor your temps closely - The stock cooler is shi*^*^$. Also don't for get to run Prime 95 to check stability, Small Fts are for checking the CPU, Blend will check both CPU and Memory
January 15, 2010 7:54:45 PM

I have a good Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU cooler; not because I planned to overclock the CPU, but because I do long video rendering runs which can heat the room my computer is in. I might try the settings you suggest; seems like it's pretty straightforward to get more mileage out of the CPU. I'd really like to get my memory closer to the 1600 MHz mark; but I've read lots of stories about instability and crashing at that level.
Thanks for those tips.
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January 15, 2010 8:03:25 PM

With an i7 860 you should be able to run at 1600 MHz without a problem. Based on RetiredChief's description of what happened when he turned on XMP I am guessing he has an i5 750. (RC, is that right?)

Can you provide a link to your RAM? I'm guessing it may be one of these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
Post a link and I'll provide what insight I can.
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January 16, 2010 4:44:06 AM

ekoostilk - Yep, i5-750/4 gigs DDR3-1600/80 gig Intel G2 SSD + 2 x 640 Gig WD blacks/ATI 5770 (Not a gamer)/27 in Samsung with Tunner.

Not totally populated with programs so still have my other listed in configuration.
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January 16, 2010 12:45:58 PM

With an i7 860 you have the advantage of having a x12 memory multiplier at your disposal. So, you can reach memory speeds of 1600 MHz without affecting your CPU.

Short side track here to provide a little background:
To provide a little more detail on why memory multipliers and XMP (or changing the multiplier) affect your CPU, we need to discuss how the RAM and CPU speeds are determined. There are 3 important settings: BCLK, Memory Multiplier, and the CPU Clock Ratio.

RAM Speed = BCLK x Memory Multiplier
CPU Speed = BCLK x CPU Clock Ratio

By default, the 1156 socket chips run with a BCLK of 133. The CPU and RAM attain different speeds by using different multipliers.

The Max Memory Multiplier that is available to the i5 750 chip is one that allows RAM to reach a speed of 1333 MHz at default BCLK. Doing the math, this is basically 10 (some boards treat it differently, but fundamentally it can be thought of as 10) because 133 BCLK x 10 Memory Multiplier = 1333 MHz.

The Max Memory Multiplier that is available to the i7 8xx chips is one that allows RAM to reach a speed of 1600 MHz at default BCLK. Doing the math, this is essentially 12 because 133 BCLK x 12 Memory Multiplier = 1600 MHz.

The i7 860 runs with a default CPU Clock Ratio of 21. This gives it its default CPU speed of 133 BCLK x 21 CPU Clock Ratio = 2.80 GHz.

Putting this all together, at default/stock we have:
BCLK = 133
Memory Multiplier (effectively) = 10
CPU Clock Ratio = 21

RAM Speed = BCLK x Memory Multiplier = 133 x 10 = 1333 MHz
CPU Speed = BCLK x CPU Clock Ratio = 133 x 21 = 2.80 GHz


Back to the question at hand - with the i7 860 to reach RAM speeds of 1600 MHz it is a simple matter of changing the memory SPD to x12. Thus your RAM is running at 133 BCLK x 12 SPD = 1600 MHz.

The other things you'll want to do is manually set the RAM. Based on the specs you should set the timings to 9-9-9-24. Also, you can test the voltage at auto but if there's any instability you'll want to set it to it's rated value and then retest. Gigabyte only make even V values available, so if it's unstable at Auto, set it to 1.64V and retest.

Gigabyte has a number of BIOS settings for some chip functions that are set to "Auto" by default. When you have not changed any settings the board treats this as Enabled. However, when you start changing settings it treats this as Disabled. I know turning on XMP causes this to happen. I'm guessing that changing the memory multiplier may have the same affect. If you want to be sure you keep Turbo and your idle power saving features (EIST) and sleep states, you should also make the following changes:

On the Advanced CPU Core Features page:
Intel Turbo Boost Tech. - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU Cores Enabled - left as All
CPU Multi-Threading - left as Enabled
CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E) - changed from Auto to Enabled
C3/C6/C7 State Support - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU Thermal Monitor - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU EIST Function - changed from Auto to Enabled
Bi-Directional PROCHOT - changed from Auto to Enabled


Once you have made all these changes, you'll want to test your system with memtest86+ to make sure your RAM is working correctly. This won't tell you if there are problems under load, but it will give you confidence there's no fundamental defects. And if you do run into issues this is the first thing to rule out anyway. You can download and find instructions for the tool here: http://www.memtest.org/
January 16, 2010 4:42:22 PM

Thanks ekoostik-That's really cool of you to take the time to gather all this information about tweaking the P55A-UD4P. I really appreciate it and I'm sure anybody else who searches this forum in the future for this kind of information will appreciate it as well. This new generation of Intel motherboards is more complex than those in the past; you just can't increase the FSB frequency and crank up the voltage a little.
I'm sure there are many UD4P owners who have put DDR3 1600 RAM on the board and seen the 1333 MHz reading in the BIOS and wonder how to get the full value of the memory without a major overclocking effort. The Turbo Boost feature of the board seems to really get good performance out of the CPU; I didn't see any real need to overclock it since; by many accounts; in most applications except advanced rendering and coding apps; the i7 860 performs as well, or nearly as well, as the i7 940. Like the saying goes; "if it ain't broke; don't fix it".
Running Memtest is a good call; I always run it on a new computer build, after fooling around with the basic motherboard settings; it's mandatory.
Once again, thanks for the effort. You're going to make a lot of P55A-UD4P owners happy.
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January 16, 2010 6:57:34 PM

I'm glad I can help. The great thing about the Gigabyte 1156 motherboards is that the settings and behavior is almost universal. So the same questions and problems I ran into in Sept/Oct last year are the same ones that others are running into now. I learn from others everytime I'm in these forums and so I'm happy to share what I know in return.

I will say the one thing that is different about your setup is that you are running 8 GBs of RAM. I have seen others who have had problems getting stable with 8 GB, but I hope you don't run into any issues. Since you haven't reported any yet, I think you should be in good shape.
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January 16, 2010 6:59:52 PM

RetiredChief said:
ekoostilk - Yep, i5-750/4 gigs DDR3-1600/80 gig Intel G2 SSD + 2 x 640 Gig WD blacks/ATI 5770 (Not a gamer)/27 in Samsung with Tunner.

Not totally populated with programs so still have my other listed in configuration.

Sounds like a nice rig. SSD boot I assume, are the Caviar Blacks in RAID or just for storage? Since not gaming, what's your primary use for the machine? With the tuner I'd guess multi-media?
January 16, 2010 8:37:07 PM

Quote:
I will say the one thing that is different about your setup is that you are running 8 GBs of RAM. I have seen others who have had problems getting stable with 8 GB, but I hope you don't run into any issues.


Yep, I will take it slow and check out the effects of each BIOS adjustment. I haven't started fooling around yet; just updated the BIOS so I won't have to do it after I make all the changes. I'll start with the SPD Multiplier and see how it goes. If it's unstable with the 8G for any reason; I'll just come back to 1333 MHz.
January 17, 2010 8:26:00 PM

OK; tweaking complete, here's what I did:

1. Change memory SPD to x12. That put my memory at 1600MHz.
2. Set the timings to 9-9-9-24. Settings on AUTO were the same, but manually set them to be sure. With the DRAM Timing Selectable(SPD) set to QUICK; when the timings are set on Channel A, Channel B is automatically set to the same timings.
3. On the Advanced CPU Core Features page:
Intel Turbo Boost Tech. - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU Cores Enabled - left as All
CPU Multi-Threading - left as Enabled
CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E) - changed from Auto to Enabled
C3/C6/C7 State Support - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU Thermal Monitor - changed from Auto to Enabled
CPU EIST Function - changed from Auto to Enabled
Bi-Directional PROCHOT - changed from Auto to Enabled

The DRAM Voltage is set on AUTO; the DRAM voltage is 1.616v; below the 1.65v memory threshold.

Everything is running smoothly. I noticed a bit of a CPU usage spike on startup, don't think it's anything major. Maybe I'll set the Turbo Boost back to AUTO and see if that does anything. I think the RAM should be safe at 1.616v, I may manually set the voltage down a little to 1.6 or lower to make sure the AUTO setting does not go above the 1.65v mark and see what happens.

Once again; thanks to ekoostik for this memory optimization strategy.
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January 17, 2010 10:29:54 PM

ronbo613 said:
I noticed a bit of a CPU usage spike on startup, don't think it's anything major. Maybe I'll set the Turbo Boost back to AUTO and see if that does anything.

That CPU usage spike was more than likely Turbo doing what it's supposed to do. I routinely see my CPU speed 'spike' on startup as the OS is loading all the things it needs. Some cores shutdown while others ramp up.

If you want to watch your turbo in action, download:
CPU-Z: http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php
and Prime95: http://www.mersenne.org/freesoft/

On CPU-Z's CPU tab you can watch the multiplier and core speed change as CPU activity changes.

Open Prime95 and start just 1 thread. You can open Task Manager and go to the Performance tab to ensure that you have 1 core running at 100% and the other 7 'cores' idling at 0%. At the same time you should see your multiplier hit 26 and your core speed hit 3.46 GHz.

Intel has also created a sidebar gadget called the Turbo Boost Monitor you can download here: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&...
It's limited, e.g. doesn't show when your CPU goes into a reduced speed EIST state, so kinda gimmicky but sometimes its interesting to see what kicks Turbo into gear.
January 17, 2010 11:12:24 PM

Got the Turbo Boost Monitor and CPUID. Everything looks good. I'll get a real world test when I start into my day-long Adobe Premiere editing and video rendering sessions.
What do you think about manually setting the DRAM voltage to 1.6v or lower?
Changing those settings to get the RAM to 1600MHz without OCing the CPU is great advice for this P55 board as well as the P58; which seem to be very similar functionality-wise. Maybe enabling XMP does the same thing; but this way you know exactly what's going on.
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January 17, 2010 11:35:00 PM

I think manually setting the DRAM is a good idea. In the long run it probably doesn't make a difference. But it ensures you know what it's set at. And if you can get it to run with even less V then that's less power and less heat - always a good thing!

Quote:
this way you know exactly what's going on

I've spent many, many more hours than I ever expected to just tweaking my rig and playing with settings. Why? As you said, because I wanted to know exactly what was going on. I wanted to make sure all those things I paid for were working. And I'm glad I did. Boy was I surprised when I figured out how to test my Turbo and found out it wasn't working! Easy enough to fix, but then I wanted to learn what all the other options at my fingertips did. It is a constant learning process. Research one settings, then tweak it. Test everything to make sure it did what I thought it was going to do. Repeat. Heck this afternoon I undervolted and OCed my CPU, ever so slightly.
January 18, 2010 12:02:59 AM

DRAM voltage set at 1.6v; running fine.
Not a big fan of "AUTO" anything.
!