Abit KV8 PRO: Overclocking and Stress Testing

FSB Overclocking Results


Front Side Bus Overclocking Testbed
Default Voltage
Processor: Athlon 64 3200+
2.0GHz
CPU Voltage: 1.5V (default)
Cooling: AMD Stock Athlon 64 Heatsink/Fan
Power Supply: Antec TruePower 430W
Maximum OC:
(Standard Ratio)
248FSB x10
2480MHz (+24%)
Maximum FSB:
(Lower Ratio)
No Ratios Available

This late 3200+ achieved about the same outstanding overclock on the Abit K8V PRO that we saw in our review of the K8N Neo Platinum. The Abit reached 248FSB at the stock 10X multiplier and default voltage. However, to even test the stock 10X multiplier, we had to force the Abit to 10X with the free Clock Generator utility from www.cpuid.com. This 24% overclock at stock multiplier suggests that our late 3200+ is coming from improved yields on the AMD production line for Athlon 64. If this is really the case, it is very good news for overclocking enthusiasts.

We were not able to test the highest FSB that could be achieved by lowering the multiplier, since no ratio adjustments were available on the Abit. Multipliers on Athlon 64 chips are unlocked at ratios below the shipping multiplier. This is primarily a result of the Cool'n'Quiet feature according to AMD, and AMD refers to this as Athlon 64 processors being "downclockable". FX chips are completely unlocked, and can be set at either higher or lower ratios than stock. Abit tells us that they will add ratios to a future BIOS, and they are working on a BIOS revision to correct the problem with the incorrect boot ratio. By using Clock Gen, we were able to verify that the KV8 PRO could reach 275 1:1 at an 8X multiplier with a DDR550 DIMM.

Memory Stress Test Results:

The memory stress test is very basic, as it tests the ability of the Abit KV8 PRO to operate at its officially supported memory frequency (400MHz DDR), at the best performing memory timings that our Mushkin PC3500 Level 2 or OCZ PC3500 Platinum Ltd Modules will support. Memory stress testing was conducted by running RAM at 400MHz with 2 DIMM slots filled. However, please keep in mind that Socket 754 is single-channel and will still operate at top speed with just one DIMM.

Stable DDR400 Timings - 2 DIMMs
(2/2 DIMMs populated)
Clock Speed: 200MHz
Timing Mode: N/A
CAS Latency: 2.0
Bank Interleave: N/A
RAS to CAS Delay: 2T
RAS Precharge: 10T
(10T for Best Performance)*
Precharge Delay: 2T
Command Rate: 1T

*Several memory tests have shown that memory performs fastest on the nVidia nForce and VIA K8T800 chipsets at a TRas (RAS Precharge) setting in the 9 to 13 range. We ran our own Memory Bandwidth tests with memtest86 with TRas settings from 5 to 15 at a wide range of different memory speeds. The best bandwidth was consistently at 9 to 11 at every speed, with TRas 10 always in the best range at every speed. The memory bandwidth improvement at TRas 10 was only 2% to 4% over TRas 5 and 6 depending on the speed, but the performance advantage was consistent across all tests. Since best performance was achieved at 2-2-2-10 timings, all Athlon 64 benchmarks were run at a TRas setting of 10.

The Abit KV8 PRO was completely stable with 2 DIMMs at the best performing settings of 2-2-2-10 at default speed. Higher overclocks could be achieved with 1 DIMM compared to 2 DIMMs, but at default speed, 1 or 2 DIMMs were reliable at the same aggressive 2-2-2-10 timings.

Abit had no adjustments at all for Bank Interleave or Command Rate, but the Command Rate is likely set to 1T. We have been discovering that Command Rate is very important to performance of Athlon 64 Dual channel memory and it should be set to 1T if possible for best performance.

Abit KV8 PRO: Features and Layout Chaintech VNF3-250: Features and Layout
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  • karlreading - Monday, August 30, 2004 - link

    i braught the chaintech vnf3-250 based on the review it recieved at AT and TBPH its a cracking motherboard, plus it easily gets my 2ghz a64-3200+ to 2.4 ghz and lets you run 1ghz HT if u running the cpu stock, something whic supposidly only the nf3 ultra let u do.all in all a very fast, very reliable, very overclockerbul motherboard which i have NMO regrets about buying :) Reply
  • lem79 - Friday, August 06, 2004 - link

    I have the Epox 8KDA3+ here with an Athlon64 2800+, runs nice, except for one quirk, which Anandtech failed to mention here (they probably didn't even know)..

    Cool'n'Quiet only works on this board when _one_ DIMM slot is in use (that is, DIMM1). If there's RAM in DIMM2 and DIMM3 slots, Cool'n'Quiet gets disabled by the BIOS (July revision, earlier BIOS images leave it enabled, but Cool'n'Quiet activation causes system instability and lockups). Epox themselves told me that this was the case.

    I think the review needs updating..
    Reply
  • operator - Sunday, June 06, 2004 - link

    I have the same question as #25. with a small addition.

    when will the msi k8n or the epox board be available in Canada?
    Reply
  • Zebo - Wednesday, June 02, 2004 - link

    This is a very good review Wesley, thanks. I really like how you went into detail with memory and boards FSB capabilites for the clockers out here.:) Looks like the Chaintech is the board for me. Cheap and a real performer. It's really to bad nVidia failed to have a decent sound solution though. Reply
  • Sk0t - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Nice review.... BUT Im unable to understand why the Epox 8KDA3+ was awarded gold, and MSI K8n Neo Platinum only awarded silver ?

    Epox pros over MSI:
    6th pci-slot
    Slightly better overclocking

    MSI pros over Epox:
    Firewire
    3 working dimm sockets (at 400mhz)
    Slightly better layout (dimm-sockets)
    Supports Cool&Quiet*

    *Since the review seems to completly ignore cool&quiet (unless i missed it?) I will stick to my current rule of thumb, that only Asus & MSI fully supports this feature

    Did I miss some wonderfull feature on the Epox ? or was slightly better overclocking considered more important than features & layout ?
    Reply
  • gmenfan - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Does anyone know when the MSI K8N Neo will be available? Thanks. Reply
  • mbf - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Nice review! I just have one question; how can there be boards *without* ECC support, when the A64 has the memory controller on-die and it *inherently* supports unbuffered ECC memory? I'm especially thinking of the Epox and MSI boards, since they interest me the most (hardware firewall et al).

    Actually, I wrote to MSI (US) about this and was told that indeed ECC is supported and the "non-ECC" statement on the product spec page was erroneous. The page was immediately updated (http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?mode... However, only the US site has been updated, and neither the manual (PDF) nor the BIOS available from the MSI Taiwan site state ECC support. Neither do the manual or BIOS for the Epox board.

    As ECC support is pretty important to me having had some bitter experiences with regular memory, I was wondering if some kind person at Anandtech might be persuaded to throw in a stick of unbuffered ECC memory into either the K8N Neo or the Epox 8KDA3 and let me know if the memory is detected as such? I'd really appreciate the effort!

    I know the ASUS K8N-E Deluxe (http://www.asus.com.tw/products/mb/socket754/k8n-e... states ECC support, but it's anyone's guess when that board will be out, since they cannot even make their mind up if the board is to be shown on their home page or not (right now it is, tomorrow it may not).
    Reply
  • l3ored - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    price is mentioned as a component in electing the epox as the gold winner, so whats the current street price? Reply
  • SilverRyu - Monday, May 31, 2004 - link

    Do you think shuttle will make a 250Gb or K8T800Pro XPC? Reply
  • cnq - Monday, May 31, 2004 - link

    Wesley,

    Nice writeup...
    A question about overclocking: you tested at 1:1 ratios, meaning you didn't really find the bounds of the FSB/HTT so much as you found the bounds of the PC4400 RAM that you used. If you had dropped the RAM ratio, do you have any indication which boards could have topped 300 MHz? I am of course thinking of your great AK89 Max review from a few weeks back, where you made waves by showing FSB/HTT speeds of 347 MHz. Will you have time to do similar tests on these new boards? (Or, for that matter, can I ask why you didn't do similar tests on these new boards? Is it merely because ClockGen hasn't yet been ported to NF250?)

    I'd also like to second the suggestion made by posting #1 (he mentions aceshardware.com. techreport.com has also chimed in with recent articles on the subject. Not surprisingly, their conclusion is to just avoid cheap Realtek products if you want good CPU utilization. And sudhian.com found great ethernet performance with low CPU overhead from the NF250-GB chip's embedded controller.)
    Reply

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