Yes the Z77 Sabertooth is a good overclocker but if you want to stick with Asus pretty much all the Asus boards around your price range of $240 and below overclock the same so you have to ask yourself what features you like and need such as the thermal armor etc,... If you want something cheaper with pretty much the same overclocking capability you can look at the P8Z77 line of Asus motherboards that also have other features that may be of interest to you unless the Sabertooth just really appeals to you that much.
As for the Auto-Tune feature on the Sabertooth I wouldn't really worry about the absence of auto tuning, it isn't really very good from getting the best out of the system since it overclocks via BCLK which risk's damaging other components it also uses a unnecessary high vcore for the given frequency it clocks too which causes more heat - you are better off doing it manually.
*I have the EXACT same CPU and motherboard. You may wish to PRINT THIS out..
Here are some tips:
1) First, make a SYSTEM RESTORE POINT (I had crashing issues though there may have been Windows 8 issues) just in case.
2) Update your BIOS to the latest.
3) Overclocking the CPU is done in one of two ways:
a) overclocking to a set frequency (say 4.5GHz stable with good cooler)
b) overclocking with offset (say 4.1GHz while maintaining power management)
*I recommend overclocking with offset. In most games the roughly 10% difference between 4.1 and 4.5GHz rarely translates more than 1% difference in frame rate.
How to do this:
a) enter the BIOS
b) choose "XMP" profile (your CPU likely shows 3.9GHz and the RAM should reflect it's ideal frequency and timings such as 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 or whatever).
c) choose "oc tuner" (I think that's the name. Your computer will REBOOT. Make sure to press DEL again to enter the BIOS).
d) press XMP again (I think that's right) if your memory is too low or incorrect. In MY CASE my 2133MHz RAM showed 1600MHz and the CPU showed 4.23GHz. Choosing XMP again after the OC TUNER applied changed my RAM timings to proper 2133MHz and the CPU dropped to 4.1GHz.
*I played around with the settings a lot (I don't know everything) and finally decided this was the optimal combination of stability and noise. DEFINITELY make sure your RAM is at its ideal settings. Don't overclock the RAM. Don't underclock the RAM. Don't change the timings. XMP should know the ideal profile for your memory and anything else may cause an unstable system.
1) ASSIST FANS: In the AI Suite Software make sure to set these fans so they turn OFF unless the temperature hits 50degC. They make an annoying buzz. With this setting they should never come on unless there's a big overheating issue, however it's nice to keep them installed as they also turn on when turning OFF your system to help exhaust hit (that may spike since the case fans just shut off). I have that set to 1 minute.
2) As per the above, I believe I ONLY installed the THERMAL RADAR software not the entire suite. The entire suite caused my system to CRASH and not restart. I had to do a System Restore to the last point by booting to my Windows 8 disc (I had to also Google how to do that).
3) Cancel the motherboard order?
I bought it primarily because it has a 5-year Warranty. I had a 3-year Warranty (really 2.5 years due to manufacturing date) and a motherboard died at under three years so I was screwed. My motherboard could NOT be replaced nor was there a model that supported my CPU any more so I had to use the entire thing for spare parts. A 5-year Warranty is nice piece of mind (and it adds to resell value likely).
4) This motherboard supports PWM fans only for the CPU and case fans. Keep that in mind when buying. Choosing case fans (if you want minimal noise) can be tricky. I strongly recommend Noctua despite the price difference even if you replace existing case fans. Get one for the FRONT and one for the top or top/rear (and BLOCK any unused side or top slots using cardboard and tape you can remove like painters tape if possible. Open holes reduce cooling efficiency. http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=79672&vpn=NF-S12A-PWM&...
*These $20 fans are truly awesome. I believe the Sabertooth case fan control is roughly a minimum of 60% and the CPU is 20% but I may be mistaken. The point is if you choose a really high RPM like 3000RPM then your fans will be very noisy.
Again, if you want really awesome cooling with low noise:
- Good CPU Heatsink with PWM fan (possibly a Noctua cooler or replace cooler fan with a Noctua)
- TWO of these Noctua PWM 12cm fan
- Disable ASSIST FANS until 50degC
- Ensure the BIOS and the Thermal Radar settings are optimal (My fan ramp is roughly OFF until 40degC then it ramps up to 80C though it varies by ambient temperature. In IDLE mode your fans should generally be at their MINIMUM speed that the board/fan combo allows.)
- Choose the graphics card wisely (the biggest noise source) if you haven't bought one yet.
- block the unused fan holes
5) I strongly recommend a better CPU Heatsink than stock as the stock Intel one is very noisy under load. There are lots of choices but it comes down partially to budget. Even a $20 version is a big improvement. You can go to NCIX etc and compare, but again:
- make sure the fan or fans are PWM
- read customer reviews
- double-check the RAM clearance (find the height and clearance specs for the CPU cooler AND the DDR3 RAM).
The INTEL SATA controller has the best performance so don't use the others. It won't likely matter for hard drives.
Do NOT use the bottom two (Asmedia) SATA connections to connect a DVD drive. I did and had burn failures. In the manual on page "ix" it tells you this.
USB2/USB3 front connections?
This motherboard supports EITHER. However, if you don't have a case yet, I recommend you get one with Front USB3 as USB thumb drives are getting faster. USB3 supports up to about 600MB/sec (10x USB2). There's also a USB Boost (forget the name) feature which surprised me in how well it worked though I forget the details now.
Graphics Card removal:
Just in case you don't know, the locking mechanism on PCIe slots can be broken if you yank out the card and forget to push it out of the way.
Don't forget to run this test before installing Windows. RAM that fails Memtest may still work well enough to install Windows but do a corrupted installation. Memory can fail memtest because it's physically defective or due to incorrect settings (hence using XMP in the BIOS to recognize and apply the optimal settings).