|ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles & David Ramsey|
|Monday, 14 November 2011|
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ASUS Thermal Radar
ASUS' constantly-evolving AI Suite program is something that really deserves its own review, but I'll touch on two features I really liked in the current version: one new and one old. The new feature is ASUS' Thermal Radar on the TUF Sabertooth X79 motherboard.
Thermal Radar comprises 12 points on the motherboard that can report their temperature (hovering your mouse over one of the sensor points on the Thermal Radar screen will show its name, as in the "PCH" label above). This is similar to some of ASUS' past enthusiast motherboards, which either included or could accommodate separate thermal probes. These probes were sensors mounted on long, thin wires that plugged into the motherboard, after which you taped the sensor where you wanted the temperature to be read. While this let you do things like monitor the temperature of a hard disk or on the back plate of a video card, the integrated sensors of the Thermal Radar are much more convenient, and you can designate that various fans connected to the motherboard (there are 7 fan headers on the Sabertooth motherboard, all PWM-capable) respond specific temperatures on given sensors. This gives the enthusiast a very fine degree of control over motherboard temperatures.
You don't have to keep Thermal Radar open to monitor your temperatures: you can collapse the AI Suite's "Monitor" window to a relatively small sidebar, and display voltages, temperatures, and other information as you desire.
DIGI+ Power Control and TurboV EVO
The old feature is DIGI+ Power Control and TurboV EVO. OK, maybe that's two features, and actually DIGI+ Power Control is new, too: it's an evolution of ASUS' DIGI+ VRM. The old power system was concerned only with the power to the CPU, while the new DIGI+ Power Control offers both more options (like CPU current capability) and can deal with RAM voltages as well. I used them to reach the 4.8GHz overclock I achieved with this board. First, I used the DIGI+ Power Control section to set the load line calibrations and CPU current capability as shown below. By increasing the load line calibration, DIGI+ Power Control maintains voltage to the processor under heavy loads, eliminating sudden voltage drops (aka "vdroop") that can cause a crash. However, you need to be careful with this if you've also increased the voltage to the processor.
Once I'd designated that turbo ratio should be increased "for all cores" in the BIOS, I gained the ability to tweak the turbo ratio (labeled "CPU Ratio" below) on the fly, right from within Windows. Just by dragging the "fluid level" inside the graphics "canisters" shown below, I could change the maximum turbo ratio and simply click "Apply" to set it. You can also set the BCLK frequency and CPU and DRAM voltages directly.
The limit to overclocking using TurboV EVO is that you must set "by all cores" turbo ratio setting in the BIOS, which means the same turbo ratio maximum will apply regardless of how many cores are under load. Serious overclockers can get better performance in lightly threaded applications by designating higher turbo multipliers when fewer cores are active...but that can only be done through the BIOS, and not through TurboV Evo.