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Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboard
The Intel Z68 Express Chipset
Closer Look: ASUS P8Z68
Closer Look Continued
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
PassMark Performance Test
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Street Fighter IV and Blender
P8Z68-V Pro Overclocking
Z68 Motherboard Final Thoughts
ASUS P8Z68-V Pro Conclusion

P8Z68-V Pro Overclocking

The Cougar Point/Sandy Bridge platform brings major changes to the overclocking process. Here are the bullet points:

  • Overclocking by increasing the base clock is no longer an option.
  • Overclocking by increasing the CPU's base multiplier is no longer an option.
  • Only the P67 and Z68 chipsets support CPU overclocking at all.

Intel's new chipsets derive almost every clock on the motherboard from the base clock (BCLK) frequency. This makes board design simpler and more reliable, but it also means that raising the base clock raises other clocks on the system...like, say, the PCI-E slot clocks, the SATA clock, and so forth. What this means in practice is that you'll be lucky to raise the BCLK as much as 5MHz without crashing your system. An overclocking mechanism enthusiasts have used for more than a decade is consigned to the dust bin of history.

Intel compensates for this by giving all Sandy Bridge processors unlocked multipliers: K-series processors get "fully unlocked" multipliers with no limits, while non-K series processors are "limited unlocked" CPUs that can only have their multipliers increased by a maximum of 4. All Sandy Bridge processors have fully unlocked video cores, RAM multipliers, and power settings, so you can tweak your RAM and on-board video with any motherboard.

You overclock a Sandy Bridge CPU by increasing the Turbo multiplier: that is, the one the CPU uses to automatically increase the clocks speed of its cores under load. If you raise the multiplier on a Core i7 980X Extreme chip, you're increasing its speed in all situations: idle and load. Raising the multiplier on a Sandy Bridge processor only raises the speed it will ramp up to under load; its idle speed remains the same. While this might seem limiting, in practice it works really well, since Turbo Boost is very, very good at deciding when to ramp up the clock speeds, and you benefit from dramatically reduced power consumption in low-load situations. Initially I didn't like this new overclocking mechanism but have come around after a few months' experience with it, and the older mechanisms now seem primitive. Since most of the overclocking mechanisms are built into the chip, the motherboard itself becomes less of a factor in overclocking than it was in the "raise the BCLK" days. Benchmark Reviews has published an in-depth article on Sandy Bridge overclocking.

ASUS provides a number of automatic overclocking mechanisms in the P8Z68-V Pro motherboard: you can start an auto overclock session directly from the UEFI BIOS, or take more control with ASUS' Turbo V Evo software. I'd recommend the latter for overclocking beginners: it generally achieves very stable results with good performance increases with almost no effort on the part of the user. However, so far, no automatic overclock mechanism can achieve the results of hand-tweaking. Still, the Turbo V Evo utility is very useful for experimenting with overclocking since it can make all the changes "live" while in Windows, without having to reboot each time as you do with settings changes in the BIOS.

In the "A.I. Tweaker" section of the BIOS, I achieved my best results with a BCLK of 103MHz and an "all cores" multiplier of 48, resulting in a final Turbo Boost overclock of 4.94GHz.

asus_p8z68v_pro_bios_overclock.jpg

Try as I might, the magical 5GHz mark remained just out of reach. Since you can specify different overclocks on a "number of cores in use" basis, given more time I probably could have reached 5GHz in a single-core situation, but under Windows 7 there's never only going to be a single core in use, so the time spent at 5GHz would have been minimal. And given the amazing performance at 4.94GHz with all cores, I'm not too disappointed. This is 200MHz higher than I was able to get with my previous 2600K overclocking experiments with ASUS' P8P67 EVO motherboard.

You do have to be careful about one thing: with older processors, you knew your overclock failed when your system crashed. Sandy Bridge CPUs, on the other hand, are very clever about automatically reducing their clock speed when the CPU core temperature gets too high. You might think that overclock is working perfectly, but behind the scenes your processor is clocking itself down when things get too hot. Keeping a utility like CPU-Z open during your stress tests will let you see the core speed "live" so you'll know if this happens.

asus_p8z68v_pro_overclock.jpg

This overclock represents a 29% overclock from the standard 3.8Ghz Turbo Boost frequency, and applies to all four cores under load rather than the single core the stock 3.8Ghz applies to. This performance differential was reflected in the benchmarks. This is the highest "on air cooling" frequency I've seen with an Intel quad-core processor.



 

Comments 

 
# I wish?.......Pigbristle 2011-05-11 02:08
Will the time ever come, when you will be able to flick that switch on the front of your case that switches off your HD6990/GTX590 card,reverting back to using your integrated cpu graphics, for when you just want to surf the net?

Therefore saving you not only wear & tear on your fancy new amd/nvidia card but also electric, which lets face it, ain't cheap nowadays...

I reckon my idea could be the saviour of the desktop PC :o)
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# RE: I wish?.......David Ramsey 2011-05-11 07:48
Why flip a switch? Let the computer do it for you. Granted, Virtual will not run in I-Mode with either of the dual-GPU cards you mentioned, but Synergy hopefully will with the 590.
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# And The Beat Goes Onrealneil 2011-05-11 06:28
Not much bad to say about these new boards. Intel has the cash to develop just about any idea they can imagine to see if it works. With gigantic resources to dip into, they are a force to be reckoned with.
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# I miss the PS/2 connector(s)Olle P 2011-05-11 06:47
PS/2 is really the way to go to avoid lag/latency in the response when things heat up. (Plus I do use it!)
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# RE: I miss the PS/2 connector(s)David Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:33
Technically, yes, but unless you type more than, say, 100 keys per second, you're never gonna notice the lower latency of PS/2. Its only real advantage is that it support n-key rollover, whereas I think USB tops out at 6 keys...still enough for humans. Cyborgs, aliens, and keyboard testing machines might want more...
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# How much ram can it takeLong Rod Von Hugen Dong 2011-05-11 16:23
How many ram ports or whatever they are called does this have? Im hoping I can get 24 gigs in this (I think I need six ports). Yea mah friend found 24 gigs for 280 bucks :o seems like a decent deal.
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# RE: How much ram can it takeDavid Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:30
There are four slots for RAM, as several of the pictures, including the one on the first page of the review, clearly show. With 4G DIMMs you could put a maximum of 16G in this motherboard. So you'll need an X58-based system to go any higher than that.
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# RE: How much ram can it takeChrisH 2011-05-13 04:40
For what app or purpose. There is no app I know of that requires 24Gb let alone 12Gb of RAM. Transcoding? Video procesisng? Then you need a professional GPU.
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# RE: RE: How much ram can it takeDavid Ramsey 2011-05-13 07:39
I make some use of 12G of RAM on my Hackintosh, mainly because I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine pretty often while the Mac's doing stuff in the background. Actually, I don't think I've ever measured RAM use above 8G, but I think it could happen!
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# CoolioLong Rod Von Hugen Dong 2011-05-11 16:34
O cool, mkay. Do you know any good ones off the top of your head that have decent bang for their buck? BTW my las title = twss :o kthnx
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# RE: CoolioDavid Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:38
Personally, I like Corsair memory because of their hassle-free lifetime warranty...
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# Is virtu really any good?Aditya 2011-05-12 07:09
I'm confused on how virtu will switch on the integrated graphics, I mean do you connect the board as well as the gpu connectors to the same monitor or do the on-board connectors let you switch between either solutions.
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# RE: Is virtu really any good?David Ramsey 2011-05-12 08:16
All your questions are answered in our separate article "Lucid Virtu Graphics Virtualization Technology". The quick answer is "There's only one connection, either to the motherboard or the graphics card depending on the Virtu mode you select."
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# RElease DateBlathering1 2011-05-12 07:40
What is the release date of the board-- when it becomes available in the market.
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# RE: RElease DateDavid Ramsey 2011-05-12 10:18
The board is on the market now. Newegg is sold out, though!
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# compatibility of heatsinkdoc 2011-06-26 17:58
A quick question about the heatsink for the Z68 test system. What fan configuration did you use for the heatsink (i.e, Dual-pull or dual-push).

Also was there any clearance issues with the heatsink and the ram? Would you say that the ram had fairly tall heatsinks or not?
Would you say the ram you used is similar in dimensions to the G.skill RipjawsX?
Thanks
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# RE: compatibility of heatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-06-26 19:32
The fans for the Silver Arrow were set up as pull-push, actually. Putting the fan in front of the first set of fins would have blocked the first two RAM sockets. As it was, the first RAM socket was blocked by the heat sink.

On P67/Z68 motherboards I've used, the CPU socket is fairly close to the RAM sockets, and low profile memory would be a good idea. The G.SKILL memory I used wasn't low profile!
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# RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboarddoc 2011-06-26 22:56
Hmm, ok. Thanks for the reply.

So if you had the fans in pull-push, does that mean both fans were in the middle cavity of the Silver Arrow? (sorry just a bit confused on how you configured that)

I checked out the P8Z68V-PRO manual and it recommends installing RAM in the second/fourth slots, so I guess it wouldn't matter too much if the heatsink blocked the first RAM slot. (unless I planned to fill them all up).

Been thinking of getting G.SKILL RipjawsX, which I've checked are about 40mm tall, and the height of the Silver Arrow's base to the first fin is 40.87; it should just slip in.
Of course I'll probably have to position the fans left||centre instead of centre||right; or use a 120mm fan.

But thanks for the help.
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# confusemanup85 2011-07-04 12:41
im really confuse now about what i have to buy. ASUS P8Z68V PRO or ASROCK Z68 extreme 4??
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# RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-07-04 12:56
I have not reviewed the ASRock board, but you really couldn't go wrong with the ASUS.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboardmanup85 2011-07-05 04:01
if you see here ##tomshardware.co.uk/asrock-z68-extreme4-asus-p8z68-v-pro-gigabyte-z68x-ud3h-b3,review-32188-2.html seems that asrock is better for more reason and asus have just 1% more performance that asus.. some one confirm this?
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# CPU Fan CompatibilityDavid 2011-12-03 20:23
I bought the Zalman CNPS 9900 Max CPU fan, but the Backplate that connects to the motherboard does not fit this motherboard. Does anyone know of a good CPU cooling fan that fits the ASUS P8 Z68-V Pro OR a different backplate that fits both the fan and this particular motherboard?
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# RE: CPU Fan CompatibilityDavid Ramsey 2011-12-03 20:28
Does the cooler's box specify that it supports socket 1156 or 1156? If so, it should fit. I don't have that specific cooler but I've used a couple of others and there was no trouble fitting them.
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