The Truth Behind ASRock's X58 SuperComputer

Conclusion: ASRock Addresses Our Concerns

Supporting up to four double-slot graphics cards, we really like the X58 SuperComputer's layout and features.

Today’s test also shows that with a recent BIOS update, the new PCB revision 1.05 makes overclocking a breeze. You might not be able to find 1.04 or 1.05 immidiately, given the 1.03s in the channel, but that doesn't mean you're destined to suffer our issues. We have several recommendations for ensuring a smooth experience with these boards and older CPUs.

As always, the easiest way to make sure your hardware survives is to leave it at rated speed and automatically-detected voltage levels. As tempting as it is to chase "free" performance gains, overclocking does open you up to hardware complications. And any time you start tweaking around with voltage, you play with fire (if only a little bit).

Our second-safest recommendation would be to make sure your ASRock X58 SuperComputer motherboard is PCB revision 1.04 or newer. Automatic voltage “droop” compensation by way of the new “Vcore Load-Line Shallow_SLOPE” setting reduces the voltage change between full-load and active-idle conditions to around 2%, reducing the overclocker’s urge to manually compensate for the change. In other words, you're less likely to have your record-breaking overclock hampered by a sagging load voltage.

The third-safest, and perhaps the easiest to adhere to, choice is for the experienced overclocker to set the highest voltage he or she feels is safe, and leave the setting there. Trying to manually dial-in droop compensation is a bad idea. Lower stable overclocking limits are the price owners of these 1.03 PCBs and C0-stepping Core i7s must pay for increased component survival.

Solving The Problem

The X58 SuperComputer really comes into its own if you're able to pair it to a D0-stepping Core i7, though. ASRock's engineers added a feature called Overdrive Offset, which works like a voltage boost to increase stability under load settings that we saw dip significantly with our C0 CPU. Turning on Overdrive Offset turns out to be an asset for running at a "auto" low voltage setting and then getting a "smart" increase as load goes up.

But even if you don't have a D0 processor, the implementation of Vcore Load-Line Shallow_SLOPE in rev. 1.04 and 1.05 PCBs minimizes the need to compensate for Vcore droop manually, which is how we lost three boards.

And so, while we did, in fact, go through a trio of X58 SuperComputers, we know why and we know how to keep our readers from experiencing the same issues. Equally important, we can confirm that the latest revision of ASRock's X58 SuperComputer, along with BIOS rev. 1.90, addresses the Vdroop issues that triggered this analysis. Further, enthusiasts able to get their hands on a D0-stepping Core i7 will have the option to set a low Vcore setting and use Overdrive Offset to intelligently increase output voltage under load.

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  • wow...greet board
    -1
  • There are several boards that can support 4 double wide GPUs like the MSI K9A2 Platinum.
    0
  • falchardThere are several boards that can support 4 double wide GPUs like the MSI K9A2 Platinum.


    K9A2 Platinum cannot support Core i7: The ASRock X58 SuperComputer is only ever compared to other LGA-1366 motherboards.
    3
  • It supports both Nvidia and ATI...at minimal cost compared to ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte variants
    0
  • 98927 said:
    It supports both Nvidia and ATI...at minimal cost compared to ASUS, MSI, and Gigabyte variants


    You do get a lot of features, but it's not cheaper than the competition. The big difference is that it supports four double-thick cards, as long as your case has enough room under the last slot.
    0
  • Quick question, what is the higher voltage limit for the i7? For example the C2D 45nm are said to be at 1.45v and 65nm are said to be at 1.5v. I define the higher voltage limit as the point where actual damage to CPU can happen (point on no return). Is it still 1.45v for the i7 as it's still 45nm?
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  • 118937 said:
    Quick question, what is the higher voltage limit for the i7? For example the C2D 45nm are said to be at 1.45v and 65nm are said to be at 1.5v. I define the higher voltage limit as the point where actual damage to CPU can happen (point on no return). Is it still 1.45v for the i7 as it's still 45nm?


    Yes, Tom's Hardware uses 1.44 to 1.45 volts for testing the overclocking capabilty of its Core i7 920 on various boards. The problem is that set voltage is never actual voltage, and an attempt to get 1.44-1.45V actual voltage would overload the VRM when using traditional voltage-changing methods on version 1.03 boards (and 1.04 with early BIOS). Newer BIOS on 1.05 boards (and 1.04 according to ASRock) allows setting electronic compensation which is much more responsive (than a person is) to changes in load, preventing damage.
    0
  • It does not impress me that AsRock would continue to sell the older versions of this board; they should pull them all from newegg's stock and everyone else, fix them or throw them away, not foist them on un-suspecting buyers with rebates and free shipping offers. I know it is common practice for manufacturers to do what they are doing, but it is, to me, an abhorrent practice. If the problem could be fixed with just a BIOS update all well and good, especially for us early adopters, but it can't, so anyone hoping to overclock their i7 920 will be at risk - and a huge percentage of i7 buyers will overclock this chip even if they never have before because it is so easy and inexpensive (can even be done on stock air cooler to some degree).

    Kudos to them for their slot layout though, that is what would cause me to buy their board; much better use than, say, a daughterboard slot for a sound processor which might be good but I'm going to replace anyway (much as I love my Asus Rampage II Extreme, that 'feature' chaps me).
    0
  • Marcus52It does not impress me that AsRock would continue to sell the older versions of this board; they should pull them all from newegg's stock and everyone else, fix them or throw them away, not foist them on un-suspecting buyers with rebates and free shipping offers.


    Unsuspecting buyers? I'm pretty sure you can read their warranty where they tell you that manually adjusting settings is dangerous and can void your warranty. Believe it or not, there is actually a reason companies tend to recommend against overclocking their products, because you are taking the product out of its designed specifications.

    I don't think any of these ASRock boards are failing out of the box with a stock CPU, and therefore, ASRock has no responsibility to pull or repair these boards. Should Ford re-build your engine cause you used jet fuel instead of regular gasoline?

    Anyone who knows enough to overclock their CPU should know that they do so at their own risk.
    3
  • Marcus52Kudos to them for their slot layout though, that is what would cause me to buy their board; much better use than, say, a daughterboard slot for a sound processor which might be good but I'm going to replace anyway (much as I love my Asus Rampage II Extreme, that 'feature' chaps me).


    You know that Rampage II audio riser slot also supports x1 cards: Asus has some nice x1 sound cards.
    0
  • The answer to this Vdroop business is to ask the engineers to provide scope shots with the circuit loaded around 500KHz upwards. Then decide if it's safe to say that 'sagging' voltage under load is a good or bad thing. If the boards died it is becasue enough time was not put into ensuring a reasonable level of droop to compliemnt the circuit in the first place. I'd hate to think the this 'shallow load line compensation' business is a quick fix to create the impression that all is well for the PWM circuit.

    Let's see just how well they implemented this design before we call foul to droop. VRM 11 specs point out perfectly well why some droop is mandatory when it comes to motherboard CPU PWM design. Having the board only show an offset of 2% at whatever voltage after having had humungous levels of it does not suddenly mean that droop is bad per se.

    In an ideal world we'd have no droop, but some form of oscillation during load changes are guaranteed in the real world on all these crazy motherboards. I'd like to see the scope shots to prove this load calibration business has been done right or whther its a fix merely to pander to those who form their beliefs merely by having insufficient knowledge of how a well designed power circuit reacts to load changes.
    1
  • Any motherboard that has a parallel port, serial port, PS2 port, a FDD channel and/or a PATA channel is garbage. Thus, moving quickly to more relevant news...
    -5
  • truerockAny motherboard that has a parallel port, serial port, PS2 port, a FDD channel and/or a PATA channel is garbage. Thus, moving quickly to more relevant news...

    You sir, is an idiot. There are people out there still using IDE drives as back up drives,etc.
    2
  • truerockAny motherboard that has a parallel port, serial port, PS2 port, a FDD channel and/or a PATA channel is garbage. Thus, moving quickly to more relevant news...

    PS2 keyboard >>>>> USB for OC
    2
  • Shadow703793You sir, is an idiot. There are people out there still using IDE drives as back up drives,etc.


    You know that when Abit listened to people like that and tried "legacy free" boards, their sales dropped so low they no longer had the money to pay for warranty service from boards of "better days".
    1
  • Sometimes there are great articles on tomshardware. Articles which makes me want to buy certain setups like a combination of cpu & mobo to get near to the same results as you guys; but out of fear I'll buy a the wrong version (eg: you mention rev. 1.5 being better than 1.4) I end up not buying anything.

    It would be nice (if possible) if we get a link where we can directly buy the hardware you guys tested, knowing that I can get the performance you guys had.
    Often, because of the mobo's or cpu versions not being in stock in our local cpu store, we end up buying a lower performing part,for nearly the same amount of money.

    A while ago Tomshardware did a $600-$800 pc. I went to the local staples/Brand smart or other store,and found for the price only celeron machines back then. Not even a lower grade core2duo.

    Knowing that (I have an OEM CD of XP) building my system in parts like done on toms, will give me a better performing system for less money.
    0
  • ProDigit80Sometimes there are great articles on tomshardware. Articles which makes me want to buy certain setups like a combination of cpu & mobo to get near to the same results as you guys; but out of fear I'll buy a the wrong version (eg: you mention rev. 1.5 being better than 1.4) I end up not buying anything.It would be nice (if possible) if we get a link where we can directly buy the hardware you guys tested, knowing that I can get the performance you guys had.Often, because of the mobo's or cpu versions not being in stock in our local cpu store, we end up buying a lower performing part,for nearly the same amount of money.A while ago Tomshardware did a $600-$800 pc. I went to the local staples/Brand smart or other store,and found for the price only celeron machines back then. Not even a lower grade core2duo.Knowing that (I have an OEM CD of XP) building my system in parts like done on toms, will give me a better performing system for less money.


    Remember that you must use the case, or motherboard...or hard drive from the system that came with that OEM XP license in order to stay legal.
    -1
  • Hmmm, isn't a Core i7 native at 1.25 volts? I've seen some hit 4 gigahertz at 1.35 volts, stable. Am i missing something or are those results not reliable? (I'm reading from some webboards to see those results)
    0
  • i run my I7 at 3.21ghz,on a p6t- no voltage tweak and air cooling.(zaleman 9700nt) stable!!!
    0
  • scryer_360Hmmm, isn't a Core i7 native at 1.25 volts? I've seen some hit 4 gigahertz at 1.35 volts, stable. Am i missing something or are those results not reliable? (I'm reading from some webboards to see those results)


    The article doesn't cover all the details on Core i7 overclocking, but you basically get one of two kinds of processors: Those that need more than 1.40V to hit 4.0 GHz, and those that don't. The ones that don't need as much voltage will usually go to around 4.2-4.4 GHz, while those that do need the extra voltage will generally go to 3.9-4.1 GHz.

    The difference in achievable clock speed appears to be internal hotspots on the less-overclockable processors.

    Both of the processors in this article required more than 1.40 volts to reach 4.0 GHz. One was a C0, the other a D0 stepping, yet both exhibited similar overclocking behavior with one exception: The D0 topped out at around 1.42V, while the C0 topped out at around 1.45V.
    0