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System Builder Marathon, Q2 2013: $2500 Performance PC

Overclocking issues plagued my last few builds, from stubborn CPUs to inadequate voltage regulators. The expanded budget of today’s configuration made it easier to add a top-binned CPU, and some readers might be surprised at how much better Asus' flagship mini-ITX board overclocks compared to Gigabyte’s full-ATX mainstream solution.

We’re looking at 4.6 GHz with no problems at all. I tried 4.7 GHz, encountered some instability, and didn’t even bother with BCLK to fight for an overclock between those two settings.

DDR3-2133 was reached with similar ease, after bumping up from the low-voltage 1.35 V standard up to a more standard 1.50 V.

The P8Z77-I Deluxe’s CPU Load Line Calibration setting of Ultra High kept my 1.30 V setting above 1.29 V through heavy loads.

My DRAM overclocking plan was to find the highest stable frequency at CAS 9. Leaving secondary and tertiary timings in automatic mode, I manually set 9-9-9-24 and 1T before altering the data rate.

MSI Afterburner is able to control both overclocks and fan slope. I lowered the temperature that'd trigger the maximum fan speed to 70° and deleted curve points to create a simple slope before increasing core clock by 130 MHz and memory frequency by 446 MHz. I also increased the card’s power limit by 35% to increase GPU Boost hold-up time.

A GPU Boost clock of 1150 MHz that sticks more often than not was the result, along with a GDDR5-6900 data rate. Anyone who likes synchronicity will love that this is a 3:2 ratio.

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