BIOS

When you enter the BIOS for the very first time, you’ll be faced with the screen below. If you want to do any serious tweaking, you will have to enter the Advanced Mode, which you can do by clicking on the button located in the top right-hand corner.

At a quick glance, the basic BIOS layout shows more or less everything you need. It shows the CPU and motherboard temperatures, the voltages, fan settings with the current fan speeds and the boot sequence, which is switchable.

You can update the BIOS with relative ease with a USB flash drive. You will need to be in Windows in order to download the BIOS from ASUS’ website and to extract the .ROM file. It my experience, my 8GB stick was not detected, which is most likely a compatibility issue.  However I did have a 4GB flash drive which did work in flashing to the latest BIOS.

The BIOS features a full UEFI system and it is easy to use. Everything is located where you would expect it to be and I can only find two issues with the BIOS. During this review, I used the 1608 BIOS which does not report CPU temperatures correctly.  I also experienced that selecting the ‘OC Tuner’ option in the BIOS made the motherboard lock itself into an infinite boot cycle which would not disappear without a full CMOS reset.

After I did my testing, I updated the BIOS to the 1808 release which appears to have solved the CPU temperature issue.

As you can see from the screenshot above, there are not very options to change your fan settings. Just like in the ASUS Suite (noted in the software section of this review), you can choose from a few presets to change the fan speeds or you can manually assign some of your own.

Overclocking

As the ASUS Suite software allows gives us an option to ‘Auto Tune’ our PC from within Windows, I figured I would start out there.  The 'Fast' pre-set was tested, giving a 31% overclock. It has increased the BCLK to 103 and the multiplier is set at 42. The RAM also got a boost up to 1866MHz by using X.M.P profiling.

After an hour at full load under OCCT, CPU-Z reported a maximum voltage of 1.296v when under load – my previous tests revealed that this particular CPU needed between 1.32 and 1.34v (set in the BIOS with high Load Line Calibration/‘LLC’) to be completely stable. The minimum voltage went down to 1.27v which could be tweaked a little with different LLC settings.

Considering how the software had taken care of the overclock, I was eager to try out the ‘Extreme’ preset. Sadly the results were not as impressive - the system attempted to raise the BCLK from 103MHz which it was set at from the ‘Fast’ pre-set to 103.5MHz. The system fell over and produced a blue screen. Once the system had restarted itself, it attempted to raise the BCLK to 103.5MHz again. It failed for a second time and on the third restart it left me with the same overclock as I originally had on the 'Fast' pre-set.

Using a maximum voltage of 1.42 V (1.75 V PLL) on the CPU, I was able to successfully boot up at 46x103 which gave me a final clock speed of 4738MHz. The system was nowhere near stable but it would get into Windows and run a few tests before crashing. By lowering the BCLK to 100 and increasing the multiplier to 47, I was able to get it stable enough to run all of our benchmarks. It was extremely easy to reach a 4700MHz clock speed. It was a case of finding the right voltage to match the given CPU frequency.

So, I removed the ‘safe’ voltage boundary and boosted the multiplier to see how far this board would really go. Just so that there was some extra headroom, the voltages got a slight increase, 1.5v on the core and the PLL voltage got a slight bump up to the original 1.8v. Windows would not boot at 5GHz, or 4.9GHz for that matter. At 48x100, Windows booted up straight away but when I tried to push the system past 101.5 BCLK, it would instantly result in a blue screen of death.

I decided to opt for a CPU voltage of 1.42 V and a PLL voltage of 1.75 V to do the rest of my testing with this motherboard. I wanted to demonstrate what sort of an effect overclocking has and what the benefits to it really are. In this instance, I ran our 3D Movement benchmark. I only ran the benchmark once to give you a rough idea of the performance gains. At stock speeds with turbo disabled, the overall score came in at 104.32 for the single threaded benchmark and 331.88 for the multi-threaded version. For a 29.7% overclock, there was a 27.8% increase (104.32 to 144.87) in performance using the single threaded application and a 30% (331.88 to 474.27) increase in the multi-threaded benchmark.

Overview and Visual Inspection Board Features, In The Box and Software
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  • Etern205 - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Why bother reviewing this board?
    Why not review this board when everyone was excited about Sandy Bridge?
    Is it because you guys are too busy with mobile products like smartphones that you guys have forgotten your roots?
    This same board you guys review on 9/8/2011 was also reviewed by Bit-tech on 1/12/2011!
    That's 8 months apart and this article made it seem it's just fresh off the factory floor!

    I used to come to this site and every time it's fill with interesting articles that sometimes I'll read it more than once, and even print it and read on my couch. Now it's the opposite.
    Mobile phone review- yawn
    Case review- semi yawn, most cases interior are similar, it's just the brand you like to pick, cable management, and appearance
    SSD- major yawn! It's all about speed, blah blah blah. Nothing special, just buy the one fastest within your budget.

    About this board, who every buys it for CFX is a idiot. The 2ne PCIe x16 runs at x4!
    You buy a pair of $800 dollar HD6990 to run quad CFX on x16/x4?!
    Enjoy your cripple quad CFX setup!!!
    Bawhahahahaha!!!
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    We've unfortunately had this board in for a while, but other products have been taking priority, meaning this one got delayed until a spot became available. Though it's worth a look just to see how such a product can still battle it out with the newer models. In other release related news, both Brendan and I on the motherboard team have full time jobs elsewhere, and you'd be surprised how much time has to go into even a single motherboard review, otherwise you get criticised for not examining every feature or might miss something critical, and of course it has to be up to AnandTech standards. We've done 17 motherboard reviews this year, which is a hard graft when every manufacturer wants to send you their latest and greatest on every chipset (P67, H67, H61, Z68, A75, A55, A50M, 990FX, 990X, 970 and so on), which means some you get sent just end up waiting a little while.

    We have got some AMD lined up over the next couple of months which we hope the readership will enjoy.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Etern205 - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Yes!
    Please please post interesting articles on BullDozer
    Can't wait! :)
    Reply
  • MrAv8er - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Now there's the problem Ian. You both have full time jobs elsewhere. You both know how fast things change in the Tech arena. Reviewing a product that's been out for 8 months is a waste of time, unless your re-reviewing after a major fix for comparison. If something is sitting around for that long, it's time to simply pass on it and select an item that is more current. That being said, perhaps Anandtech needs to staff up... Reply
  • JonnyDough - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Despite my understanding (I'm in the Air National Guard, have a daughter, and am about done with my post-deployment vacation) - I have to side with the commentators here. It would seem that a review on this board is a bit post-due, especially considering that it has a mature bios now compared to newer board releases which may not. Reply
  • Mumrik - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Honestly, it's still a relevant board (cheapest 8 SATA port P67/Z68 board in my part of the world at least), so I'm fine with it.

    Actually, I really want Anandtech to do two things:

    1) Review more motherboards! You're doing several times more smartphones than motherboards at this point, and while the phones are fine, motherboards are closer to the core of what I come here for.

    2) Review motherboards that aren't top-of-the-line enthusiast boards. Most people never do use more than one GPU and it's often not really clear what else is there to justify paying 60-100% extra. Also, NOBODY is reviewing the mid or lower midrange boards! It's all about the pro and deluxe versions that the manufacturers push.
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Alright, maybe not "several times", but I really would love more comparison articles of relevant ATX motherboards. Reply
  • ryedizzel - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    Etern205, show a little more respect for a website you visit for FREE. Also face the reality that tablets and cell phones are mini computers and are quickly becoming the platform of the future. And while you personally yawn at SSD reviews, I think you fail to realize how much this website has contributed to the success of that technology while helping various manufacturers.

    Now don't get me wrong, I agree this particular motherboard review is a little late, especially considering its a P67 chipset. At this point I would only hope to see reviews on Z68 chipsets. In fact I had to get most of my recent buying information regarding Sandy Bridge from Tom's. So maybe ASUS paid Anand to shine light on older products in attempts to move inventory. But unfortunately that is how review websites make the money they need to operate (in addition to ad revenue). So again, unless you are a paying customer you are in no position to complain.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    If I worked at AT I'd find your accusation of payoffs way more insulting than his original complaint about the coverage... Talk about lack of respect. Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, September 08, 2011 - link

    LOL, yeah for real.

    "Be respectful!

    Oh yeah, I totally think they're getting paid off for reviews!"
    Reply

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