Overclocking and System Setup

Overclocking

Overclocking on the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe brings with it a few challenges.  First, we are dealing with a new chipset (the NVIDIA nForce4 chipset is new to the AMD market).  Secondly, we have to worry about the power a little bit more now if you are using SLI.  That all important power supply is becoming more important to system stability if you have a PAIR of graphics cards in it and adding overclocking into the mix redoubles that. 

We do have some hope though, as the nForce4 chipset has locks in all the right places.  The PCI Express bus is locked independently of the system bus, as is the regular old PCI bus.  No AGP card to worry about here either.  If you throw some Corsair PC4400 DDR memory into the mix and you have a great initial outlook.

For our overclocking tests, I started simply with the basics: move the multiplier down to 9.0x and then up the HT bus to see where it stops me.  I hit 240 MHz right away, without a hitch.  Same with 250 MHz, and even 255 MHz.  After that, I noticed a bit of instability that would keep from saying that I successully overclocked the processor any higher than that.  I then upped the multiplier to 9.5x making a total frequency of 2.42 GHz and ran completely stable overnight running Prime95 and 3DMark05.  Admitedly, this isn’t a big frequency overclock, but increasing memory bandwidth by this amount is a great start, consider we were using default voltages.

I’m going to save more overclocking tests until I get more retail boards in for a good comparison, as I don’t want to judge Asus’ overclocking potential against nothing but itself.  Other nForce4 boards are going to get a shot at the OC title, but I can say that with our first glance, the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe board did very well.

Test System Setup

Our test setup continues with our trend for motherboard and chipset reviews, using an Athlon 64 FX-53 processor and an ATI X800 XT PCI Express graphics card.  Yes, for my A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard review, I am using an ATI X800 XT card, not an NVIDIA SLI setup.  I’m sure there will be some questions on that, so let me elaborate.  This is a motherboard review, and so we focus on what features and performance the motherboard brings to the table in as close a comparison as possible to the competing products.  As this is the first SLI motherboard we are testing, it wouldn’t really be fair to judge the gaming performance of an SLI setup on it to the single GPU performance you’d get on a ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 chipset, VIA K8T890 chipset, or even an nForce4 Ultra chipset. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the SLI performance advantage and upgrade path features aren’t a big factor in the overall platform you are choosing.  Because of that, I’ll dedicate a seperate article (to follow in the next couple days) that discusses the advantages (and disadvantages, for that matter) of SLI technology that others might have ignored. 

For now, look at this as a review of a motherboard for those looking to upgrade to possible SLI transitions, but won’t be getting a pair of $500 graphics cards just yet.

AMD Test System Setup

CPU

AMD Athlon 64 FX-53

Motherboards

Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe nForce4 SLI
ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 Reference Board
NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra Reference Board
VIA K8T890 Reference Board
MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum nForce3 Ultra

Power Supply 

Antec 480 watt

Memory 

2x512MB Corsair Micro DDR500
2x512MB Kingston HyperX 4300 DDR

Hard Drive

250 GB Maxtor 7200 RPM SATA

Sound Card

Creative Labs Live!

Video Card

ATI X800 XT

Video Drivers

ATI Catalyst 4.11

DirectX Version

DX 9.0c

Operating System

Windows XP w/ Service Pack 1

 

 Intel Test System Setup

CPU

Intel 560

Motherboards

Intel 925X Reference

Power Supply 

Antec 480 watt

Memory 

2x512MB Corsair Micro DDR500

Hard Drive

250 GB Maxtor 7200 RPM SATA

Sound Card

Creative Labs Live!

Video Card

ATI X800 XT

Video Drivers

ATI Catalyst 4.11

DirectX Version

DX 9.0c

Operating System

Windows XP w/ Service Pack 1

 

The benchmarks used were:

  • SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP1
  • AIDA32
  • Cachemem
  • Quake III: Arena
  • Unreal Tournament 2003
  • X2: The Threat
  • 3D Mark 2001: SE v330
  • 3DMark03
  • 3DMark05
  • Far Cry 1.1
  • Doom 3
  • PCMark04
  • Business Winstone 2004
  • Content Creation Winstone 2004
  • LAME MP3 Encoding
  • XMPEG / DivX Encoding
  • WinRAR Compression
  • CineBench 2003
  • KribiBench 1.1
  • SPECviewperf 7.1
  • ScienceMark 2.0 Beta
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