Overclocking Performance
OC Genie Automatic Overclocking

Probably the most noteworthy new feature on the P55 line of motherboard from MSI (most of their line, not all) is the new OC Genie feature that allows users a single button overclock that is completely hardware based.  Remember this button at bottom of the image?

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That is a toggle switch that enables or disabled hardware overclocking using the embedded OC Genie microprocessor on the motherboard.  By “hardware overclocking” I mean that this overclocking is completely independent of any software that needs to be run in an operating system.  Without a need to install any kind of bloatware on your desktop you are free to run a completely clean OS and that also means this overclocking method will work in other operating systems than Windows. 

The idea is simple: press this button then turn on your system and the motherboard attempts to intelligently overclock the processor and memory based on what it knows about the CPU, power levels, heat and more.  It takes all of about 5 seconds before the normal POST screen shows up and you are met with a screen like this one:

Note: all of our overclocking and testing on this motherboard was done with the same hardware as our other Lynnfield articles:
  • Intel Core i7-860 CPU
  • MSI P55-GD65 motherboard
  • Thermaltake SpinQ cooler
  • 2 x 2GB Corsair DDR3-1600 memory
  • BFG GeForce GTX 285 1GB GPU
  • Intel X25-M G2 160GB SSD
  • Windows 7 x64 RTM

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This lets us know not only that the OC Genie function was successful but obviously what speed the CPU is running at.  MSI does note here that making any modifications to the BIOS after enabling the feature (or trying to update the BIOS itself) is not recommend and/or not possible with the OC Genie on, for obvious reasons. 

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The OC Genie feature took us up to 3.53 GHz with a single button press

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Memory was downclocked slightly, my only complaint

As you can see from the BIOS shot and these CPUZ images as well, the MSI OC Genie feature brought our processor from its default settings of 2.8 GHz up to 3.53 GHz without me having to do any kind of manual tweaking in the BIOS at all.  It truly was the most painless overclocking experience I have ever had – and that includes any other vendors’ software-based overclocking models available today.

My one complaint is that the system did decrease the memory frequency below the DDR3-1333 speeds of the modules as the OC Genie chip was no doubt afraid the memory would not handle the speeds of 1600+.  Even though it likely could have, for ease of use it is better to be safe than sorry.  And while MSI didn’t recommend it, you still CAN go in to the BIOS and increase the memory ratio manually if you want to.

Also, while getting up to a 3.53 GHz speed is great to see for this CPU with no work on our part, keep in mind that the Intel Core i7/i5 processors do have TurboMode support and this Core i7-860 would have hit 3.4 GHz on its own with TurboMode enabled.  Of course, that would ONLY have happened when a single thread was running (it would get as high as 2.93 GHz with all cores maxed out) so getting the 3.5 GHz on one core or all four is definitely an improvement. 

Manual Overclocking

Weathered enthusiasts know that no manor of automatic overclocking will take the place of manual tweaking to get the most out of your system.  And because the MSI P55-GD65 motherboard offers a well rounded set of overclocking settings and features, we found the results below were pretty simple to acquire. 

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One thing we have found with all of our Lynnfield processors is that going anywhere without some voltage adjustments is hard to do.  As long as you have a non-stock heatsink and fan on your CPU though, I don’t think you’ll have issues running most of the Core i7/i5 processors as high as 1.48v or so.  Here you can see I was easily able to hit the 150 MHz base clock speed.

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Reach the clock rate of 3.80 GHz was simple; pushing the BCLK up to 180 MHz with the same voltages.

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At 4.2 GHz I was able to maintain a completely stable system using the following voltages:
  • CPU: 1.48v
  • PCH: 1.50v
  • Memory: 1.74v
Those are definitely above stock but not outside the world of safety – again assuming you are using a high quality air cooler of some kind.  Do NOT do this with the Intel stock cooler…it will only end badly.

My experiences overclocking on the MSI P55-GD65 were exceptional, both with the OC Genie automatic hardware overclocking utility and with the standard manual input overclocking.  For the price of this board I think that most any enthusiast would be impressed with what MSI is offering.

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