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Core i7-870 Overclocking And Fixing Blown P55-Based Boards

Conclusion: ASRock Succeeds, MSI Survives

It has been our contention that no motherboard used for overclocking should be able to push enough energy through the CPU voltage regulator to damage it, because any motherboard that includes overclock settings should also include over-current protection. We understand that cheaper boards use lower-capacity voltage regulators, but lower capacity simply adds to the need for such protection. Any motherboard too cheaply made to include over-current protection shouldn’t even have manual voltage control, but should instead be marketed towards the non-overclocking whitebox market.

ASRock proved itself by using nothing more than a BIOS update to enable the over-current protection already included in P55 Pro. While leaving the feature disabled in previous BIOS revisions was a big mistake, redemption in the form of BIOS revision 1.80 is enough for us to have some faith in a board that can be pushed to 1.35V and 4.0 GHz with our Core i7-870 processor. Anyone who wants to use higher voltage to reach even greater clock speeds shouldn’t have a big problem choosing a higher-priced product. On this board, upper-range features such as dual eSATA ports, onboard Port 80 diagnostics display, onboard power and reset buttons, a rear-panel CLR_CMOS button, and IEEE-1394 FireWire now make the board a perfect fit for enthusiasts who prefer not to push their luck at high overclock settings.

MSI’s P55-CD53, though far less featured or overclock-capable, can now be viewed as a reliable choice for non-overclockers. But though it boasts modest power savings at stock or very mildly overclocked speeds, we can’t find a reason why any level of enthusiast would choose it over the less-expensive, better-featured, and better-overclocking ASRock P55 Pro.

By now, we’re sure many readers are asking “weren’t there three failing boards in the original comparison?” Unfortunately, ECS was unable to provide a solution to our overclocking and power woes. As the only sub-$150 motherboard to offer x8 mode for the second x16-length PCI Express graphics card slot, the P55H-A could have easily won our previous article’s value comparison, if only the board had survived.

The big remaining question is whether we’d buy any of these platforms, and the answer is yes. Improvements in BIOS 1.80 make ASRock’s P55 Pro an excellent value in spite of its initial overclocking hurdles, and we really love well-featured, high-value parts. It’s unfortunate for ASRock that we don’t hand out value awards retroactively, but we're sure the company will continue to have many chances to impress us in the future.

  • cyberkuberiah
    but some of us would rather give some extra beans and go 920 , and have dual pcie2.0 x16 . a few extra watts doesn't matter too .
    Reply
  • FYI: Power consumption of switching cmos silicon increases with the square of voltage, and linear with frequency. The increases shown here seem to be in line with that, rather than the stated decrease in voltage regulator efficiency (which certainly does decrease, but probably much less).
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dan__gFYI: Power consumption of switching cmos silicon increases with the square of voltage, and linear with frequency. The increases shown here seem to be in line with that, rather than the stated decrease in voltage regulator efficiency (which certainly does decrease, but probably much less).
    Can you turn that into a more accurate estimate than 200W to 240W, where all that can be proven is that it's "high, but less than 240W"?
    Reply
  • jeffunit
    Are your power consumption measurements of the cpu, dc power or wall socket power? If they are the latter, which I suspect they are, then you have to factor in the power supply efficiency, as 150w socket, means 150w DC.
    Reply
  • bucifer
    I would be great to see how the more popular i7 860 or at least i5 750 scale with the voltage.
    I don't think i7 870 is a popular choice because of it's price (people would go for socket 1336)
    Reply
  • ctbaars
    Thanks for article.
    For me - This and previous articles have convinced me to game at stock, w/ tb+ settings on, and a high end GPU card and the i5 is most appropriate for my usage. I need to condition myself to turn off the computer esp. when noone is home.
    Reply
  • avatar_raq
    Although Thomas labels Asrock as "succeeds" I will not buy their motherboards, you'll never know what else this company ignores in the bios, and do you think they would fix that issue if it weren't for THG? After how many failing boards?
    Reply
  • tecmo34
    cyberkuberiahbut some of us would rather give some extra beans and go 920 , and have dual pcie2.0 x16 . a few extra watts doesn't matter too .I agree with you 110%... :D

    Also, I would like to see the voltage scaling using the i5 750, as mentioned by bucifer
    Reply
  • Onus
    A few extra watts being "used" is fine. A few extra watts being "wasted" is something else entirely.
    I don't see a howling difference on these overclocks either. If I bought an i7, that probably means I'd have little reason to OC it.

    While ASRock seems to be taking a "successive approximations" approach to improving their products, the ones I've bought so far have all been solid, but any OC has been mild.
    And, once again (even if it isn't quite epic), MSI = FAIL.
    Reply
  • jerreece
    I was glad to see this article. I was just thinking about this whole debacle this morning. :)
    Reply