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.