Overclocking Test Suite
Testing the overclockability of each motherboard is a huge task. I came up with a set of tests that should make my results interesting and informative. I didn't just want to boot into an operating system and run a single application and claim the board stable. Also, I didn't want to pick a single application and burn it in for 24 hours given the time requirements. Instead I created a test suite which includes Booting Windows 98, running Shogo, Quake 3 Arena Test, Expendable Demo, and 3 passes of Sysmark98. If any of the motherboards failed any of these apps I upped the voltage and ran the test suite again. For this testing I used our lab characterized SL2W8 Pentium II 300 MHz CPU. The CPU I chose is one of our most finicky parts to overclock. I wanted to give each motherboard a worse case overclocking scenario. This CPU in our Overclocking Special - The Intel Pentium II 300 SL2W8 review was characterized to run in most motherboards at 450 MHz (4.5*100) at 2.2v, and only a few at 504 MHz with a core voltage of 2.2v. I would also like to mention that each motherboard used the same CPU, video board, memory stick, hard drive, network adaptor and power supply. Using the same exact peripherals in each motherboard alleviates any discrepancies regarding the peripherals sensitivity to the higher bus speeds, etc.
The overclocking tables show the voltage required to run stable at a certain frequency. The GREEN colored cells and letter "P" indicates a passing run. Once a test/application failed at a particular voltage, the cell was marked with the letter "F" and all the following cells for that tested voltage were skipped and colored RED. Then the next voltage was tested. Once a frequency and set voltage was able to pass the entire test suite without any failures, the evaluation for that motherboard was complete. If a motherboard couldn't pass at 504 MHz, the frequency was brought down to 450 MHz and testing was restarted at 2.0v. I decided not to push the voltage of the CPU beyond 2.3v. Let's check out the results.