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Overclocking Through Firmware

System Builder Marathon, Q4 2013: A $2400 PC That Costs $2700

The motherboard in my September build had trouble setting a fixed-ratio, fixed-voltage overclock, even a couple years ago when we reviewed it. Those issues were never completely addressed. The board I'm using in today's story doesn't have that problem. However, I chose to set a variable overclock anyway.

The main reason I'm going with a variable overclock is that it allows me to retain most of the CPU’s power-savings features at idle. The second reason is that, at my target maximum voltage, this CPU only runs at my target frequency with one or two cores subjected to a load. I set 4.6 GHz for one or two cores, 4.5 GHz for three or four, and 4.4 GHz for five- or six-core loads.

Chosen for its overclocking consistency, G.Skill’s DDR3-1866 once again reaches DDR3-2133 after switching from its default CAS 9 to CAS 10.

I decided to limit CPU core voltage to 1.30 V to increase processor longevity. To get there without disabling power-saving features, I used an offset-mode setting of +140 mV.

Memory voltage was the toughest variable to figure out, since my experience with these modules shows that they top out around 1.55 to 1.60 V. Stable through most of our benchmarks and all stress tests at stock voltage, an increase to the motherboard’s 1.585 V setting was needed to push it through one metric.

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