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Test Setup And Overclocking

Supermicro 5046A-XB: X58 Workstation Barebones
Test Hardware
Intel Core i7 920 (2.66 GHz) ES
Corsair Dominator 6 GB DDR3-1600 Kit (3 x 2 GB) Timings: 8-8-8-24
Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250 GB
Asus Rampage II Extreme (Intel X58/ICH10R)

Supermicro C7X58 (Intel X58/ICH10R)
Power Supplies
Cooler Master UCP 1100 W

Supermicro PWS-865-PQ 865 W
CPU Cooling
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme

Supermicro SNK-P0035AP4
Chassis Cooling
2 x Supermicro 80 mm x 25 mm FAN-0104L4

1 x Supermicro 92 mm x 25 mm FAN-0103L4
Test Software
Operating System
Windows Vista  Ultimate x64 Edition
Graphics Drivers
AMD Catalyst 9.2


Here’s where the enthusiasts are separated from the folks who need a true business-class workstation. First of all, the C7X58 is not meant to be an overclocking platform. You won’t find Supermicro updating its BIOS every two weeks hoping to plug up compatibility holes, either.

Unfortunately, that also means there is little reason to buy a Core i7 920 for the C7X58, in hope of getting an easy 3.8 GHz out of it. Though the board is able to alter QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) performance and memory multipliers, it doesn’t offer multiplier adjustments, reference clock tweaks, or voltage settings, leaving you stuck at your stock frequency. Though this isn’t an issue for the corporate crowd, it’s an outright deal-breaker for power users aware of the Nehalem architecture’s available headroom. After all, even Intel—once an overclocking adversary—is at least accepting of the fact that value-conscious buyers demand a little control over more internal knobs and switches.

We certainly understand the mindset behind minimizing the number of reliability-induced issues by preventing overclocking. But perhaps the enthusiast customer building his or her own workstation would be the most qualified to decide whether or not a 10% or 20% increase in processor performance is worth the potential uptime or longevity risk.

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