All three boards in today’s competition offer voltage levels in excess of what most users actually need, but competitors who use liquid nitrogen cooling will be happy to see these ultra-high limits.
|BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)|
|Asus Rampage III Extreme||Gigabyte X58A-UD9||MSI Big Bang XPower|
|CPU Base Clock||100-500 MHz (1 MHz)||100-600 MHz (1MHz)||100-600 MHz (1 MHz)|
|DRAM Data Rates||BCLK x6-x18 (x2)||BCLK x6-x18 (x2)||BCLK x6-x16 (x2)|
|PCIe Clock||100-200 MHz (1 MHz)||90-150 MHz (1 MHz)||100-190 MHz (1 MHz)|
|CPU Vcore||0.85-2.30 V (6.25 mV)||0.50-1.90 V (6.25 mV)||0.90-2.30 V (6.25 mV)|
|Uncore Voltage||1.20-2.50 (6.25 mV)||1.075-2.015 V (20 mV)||1.20-1.83 V (6.25 mV)|
|IOH Voltage||1.11-2.20 V (13.25 mV)||1.00-2.00V (20 mV)||0.80-1.70 V (10 mV)|
|ICH Voltage||1.11-2.00 V (13.25 mV)||0.92-2.38 V (20 mV)||1.10-2.00 V (10 mV)|
|DRAM Voltage||1.21-2.50 V (13.25 mV)||1.30-2.60 V (20 mV)||1.20-2.50 V (1 mV)|
|CAS Latency||3-11 Cycles||5-15 Cycles||4-15 Cycles|
|tRCD||3-15 Cycles||1-15 Cycles||3-15 Cycles|
|tRP||3-15 Cycles||1-15 Cycles||3-15 Cycles|
|tRAS||3-31 Cycles||1-31 Cycles||9-31 Cycles|
Our air-cooled configuration and first-generation Core i7 processor limit us to a far more practical 1.45 V, a configuration we’ve maintained through several product generations to make comparisons of overclocking capabilities possible between articles.
This is the closest we’ve seen any three boards come to overclocking parity, indicating the true limit of our CPU at our chosen voltage. The actual difference is less than the 21 MHz we’d get from increasing the base clock by 1 MHz, so all three boards are tied within the “margin of error” for each board’s clock generator.
Base-clock capability is also essentially tied for all three boards, with Gigabyte’s 220 MHz setting coming in at an actual 219.8 MHz.
Memory is where things get a little trickier. MSI appears to lead in the average of three- and six-module speeds, but it’s hard to know exactly where it would have ended up had its 7x memory multiplier actually worked. That’s right, MSI’s memory overclock started at the DDR3-1600 setting rather than the DDR3-1866 setting used by its competitors, requiring a higher base clock to reach its memory overclocking limit.