Overclocking, RAID and System Setup

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If there is one thing that Iwill has learned how to do right, its overclocking. Iwill knows that the enthusiast market is their bread-and-butter and what enthusiasts want are speed and options. Iwill has always been one to work with the community (as is obvious from the success of the Iwill Forum in the AMD Forums) to find the best of what people want, and including it on the motherboards they make. The XP333 is a huge success for this reason.

Let’s take a look at what overclocking options Iwill has included with the XP333 motherboard. First, let’s start with the easy and most popular ones. Front-side bus, multiplier and Vcore adjustments are all included. The FSB can be changed from 100 MHz to 233 MHz, making a very theoretical DDR FSB of 466 MHz. The multipliers range from 5x to 14x (I was told that up to 15x may be only a bios release or two away). The Vcore voltages range from 1.125v to 1.85v in 0.025v increments. Interestingly, along with the new 2.1 revision of the XP333, there is an “Increase Vcore by 10%” option in the bios. This worked very well, and so the actuall highest voltage I was able to push to the processor was 2.035v, and this was verified by the PC health monitor in the bios.

More interesting overclocking features include “Dram Performance” settings up to what Iwill calls “Ultra2” which I was never able to successfuly POST at, “Dram Read Enhance”, “Dram WBUF Flush”, DRAM Cas latency as well as RAM BIU latency, and a few others. The big change with the XP333 comes in the topic of dividers.

In a standard motherboard setup, the PCI and AGP bus speeds are not actually static, but set off of a divider of the front-side bus. At 133 MHz FSB, and a multiplier of 1/4, the PCI bus runs at 33 MHz; with a multiplier of 1/2, the AGP bus runs at 66 MHz. Those are the default values that all motherboards on the 133 MHz FSB follow. When you overclock by pushing the FSB up, you are actually changing the PCI and AGP busses as well which can cause stability problems. For example, running the FSB at 170 MHz with the standard dividers gives you a PCI bus of 42.5 MHz and an AGP bus of 85 MHz. If your PCI and AGP cards have problems running that fast, it can limit the speeds to which you can overclock. That is why having PCI dividers is such an intriguing idea.

On the XP333 you can set the PCI dividers to 1/3, 1/4, 1/5 and 1/6 (The AGP dividers are always twice the PCI dividers, so there is no option for them). At that same 170 MHz FSB above, if you set the PCI divider to 1/5 (and thus the AGP divider to 2/5), your PCI speed is then 34 MHz and your AGP speed is 68 MHz, much closer to their default speeds and will cause no problems with your PCI or AGP cards. But, you were still able to push your memory and processor bus speeds up dramatically! Now that is why divider options in the bios can be very useful.

After that long-winded explanation, what was the XP333-R able to perform at in terms of overclocking? Well, I was able get the Athlon XP 1900+ processor and OCZ Tech memory to run at a 170 MHz FSB. Setting the dividers to 1/5 and 2/5, the AGP and PCI cards had no problems what so ever. Do note that at 166 MHz FSB, with a 1/5 divider, you are at the DDR333 specifications that Iwill claims the XP333 meets. While this is not an official DDR333 solution because the processor itself is still overclocked, you are getting the performance increase all the same.

As I mentioned earlier, Iwill is offering both a RAID and non-RAID model of the XP333 motherboard. The XP333-R uses the new HighPoint HPT372 controller that supports RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 options in the new ATA133 standard. As Maxtor will soon be releasing some hard drives based on the ATA133 technology, having the support for this technology on your board could be a nice plus. As I always look for, the ability to run the RAID controller merely as an additional ATA IDE controller is available with the HPT372 chipset.

Here is the system setup for the following benchmarks:

Test System Setup
CPU 1 x 1.53 GHz AMD Athlon XP 1800+ Processor
Motherboards Iwill XP333-R
Shuttle AK31 Rev3
nForce Reference Board
Memory 1 x 256MB TwinMOS PC2100 DDR DRAM
Hard Drive 20.5GB 7200 RPM IBM EIDE
Video Card GeForce 3
Video Drivers Detonator 22.40
Operating System Windows XP


Quake III: Arena
3DMark 2001
SiSoft Sandra Memory Bench
SiSoft Sandra CPU Bench
Content Creation Winstone 2001
Business Winstone 2001
4 different SPEC view perf tests
Sysmark 2001

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