Our Thoughts

First, we should note that certain Gigabyte P965 boards also allow downward unlocks with the latest BIOS releases. ASUS joins them in offering this feature, and they have broken new ground with the 0507 BIOS for the P5B Deluxe. The ability to specify multipliers - even if it's only downward unlocked - is so significant that every other manufacturer will have to follow suit or lose market share to the two motherboard giants.

At present, every Core 2 Duo chip we tried unlocked down (this included both B1 and B2 steppings); however, none of our samples unlocked both up and down. ASUS tells us that many Core 2 Duo chips also unlock upwards, but the upper limit is around a 14X multiplier with those chips that do unlock in both directions. If true, we're certain those chips that can unlock completely will be quickly figured out by enthusiasts and those models and steppings will become the most highly desired Core 2 Duo chips.

Certainly this new BIOS makes the ASUS P5B a much more desirable motherboard. We do need to remind readers, however, that we have generally reached even higher overclocks on the 975X chipset when compared 1:1 with the 965P. ASUS has told us they are not finished with this "Conroe Unlock" feature and that they are working on BIOS revisions to also bring Core 2 Duo unlock to 975X chipset motherboards. We have seen hardware modifications to the Intel 975 BadAxe that allow unlocking, and it would be great if ASUS can accomplish the same with a simple 975 BIOS upgrade, as they have on the P5B Deluxe.

With innovations like this ASUS BIOS, the Intel Core 2 Duo processor is gaining features that make it even more desirable in today's market. To summarize our findings, below are the highest overclocks we could achieve at each ratio with the tested processors:

Core 2 Overclocking
CPU Stock Speed X10 X9 X8 X7 X6
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 360
3.6GHz
400
3.6GHz
440
3.52GHz
494
3.46GHz
494
2.96GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz - 402
3.62GHz
445
3.56GHz
495
3.47GHz
495
2.97GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz - - 445
3.56GHz
511
3.58GHz
514
3.08GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz - - - 525
3.68GHz
532
3.19GHz

Those interested in getting the most out of their high-performance DDR2 will be very happy with the unlocking feature. It allows options like the running the memory at 1:1 at DDR2-800 and 3-3-3 timings as we have done in this screen capture of a 9x400 overclock on an E6700 with memory set at the DDR2-533 ratio.


ASUS has earned our thanks for making the 965P chipset worth considering again. With overclocks up to 532 in our testing, with multipliers settable to x6 on all tested chips, and with multipliers purportedly also unlocked at the top on some formerly locked Conroe chips this BIOS upgrade has to be considered a must for any ASUS P5B Deluxe owner. For those considering a new Conroe board, the already desirable P5B has just moved to the head of the 965P class. The only feature missing now is support for CrossFire video configurations, which remains an advantage of the 975X for gaming enthusiasts.

E6400 & E6300 – 2MB Cache
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  • BuddyHolly - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    Thanks Wesley for the info on running the memory in spec. That is exactly what I was looking for.
    When I am asking for benchmarks, I would love to see PI and a few others run at the same clock speed but different FSB to show what gain we get from this..for example
    The 6300 at the following:
    7x429=3000
    6x500=3000
    What type of gain to we get from jacking up the front side bus? I know it used to help a lot on my old Barton's, but what does it get us with the Core 2?
    Great article and interesting discussion. One of the things I truly love it the fact that the staff at AT respond to these post and realy add a lot to the discussion.
    Thanks again!
    Reply
  • BuddyHolly - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    I have a few questions that were not covered
    1) Can we have some benchmarks showing the benefit of running up the FSB vs standard at the same clock speed. I know on some processors in the past this gave a nice boost in performance, but how much are we talking here? Huge gains or just a few percent?
    2) Can we lock the memory on these boards and crank the FSB up with cheap memory? If so, what are the benifits the same?
    Thanks for the article. I too got excited at seeing the title, hoping for a return to the golden days of overclocking without multiplier locks....
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    DDR2-533 is the 1:1 strap and theoretically provides the highest memory bandwidth. DDR2-533 memory setting hits DDR2-800 at 400FSB. Almost all of the cheap memory based on Elpida chips can do DDR2-800 4-3-3 as you saw in the Conroe Buying Guide. At the highest multiplier of x7, then the E6300 maxes out at 2.8GHz, with plenty of headroom left.

    Dropping the memory to DDR2-400 you would reach DDR2-800 at a FSB of 533, which covers all the headroom we found with the E6300. You have even more flexibility with the E6400 with the higher x8 multiplier.

    The point is you should be able to reach pretty high in headroom even with cheaper memory. Of course the high-end DDR2 all reached DDR2-1067 to DDR2-1100, which gives even more flexibility for maxing headroom at the fastest memory timings possible.

    As for benchmarks, we provided Super Pi times in several of the higher overclocks as a quick bench, You can easily compare these results to what you achieve. Super Pi is a free program that's easy to run. Version 1.5 is a modified version for benchmarking available at xtremesystems.org.

    Reply
  • shabby - Saturday, August 26, 2006 - link

    So the p5b has a ddr2-400 setting? I thought the lowest was a 1:1 ratio(533 setting). Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, August 26, 2006 - link

    quote:

    So the p5b has a ddr2-400 setting? I thought the lowest was a 1:1 ratio(533 setting).


    If you are using a P4 then the DDR2-400 setting is the base setting on this board.
    Reply
  • shabby - Sunday, August 27, 2006 - link

    And if its a c2d then your outta luck? Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    We are talking about some pretty huge gains here. Just look at the new speeds, and waht the equivalent cpu would cost running at those speeds. You gain the same performance of cpu's which can cost hundreds of dollars more.

    I agree wiuth your second question. I would like to see how things work out using a memory divider (do Conroe motherboards even use memory dividers?).
    Reply
  • KHysiek - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    In "Conroe Buying Guide: Feeding the Monster" Deluxe model was featured, here we have (I suppose) P5B regular. P5B non-dlx have less overclocking options (lika limited memory voltages), this have serious impact on o/c possibilities.
    In new BIOS we stilla have just 2.1 DDR2 max voltage?
    Reply
  • junior1 - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    New records for FSB is interesting, but I think the question that many of us have is: Is there an opportunity for getting more bang for the buck?

    Assuming that upwards unlocked chips are rare, the budget-constrained conroe buyer can

    a.) Crank a cheaper CPU to high FSB, with expensive RAM and motherboard. Drop the multiplier if needed to take the system to its top performance, or

    b.) Save money by buying value RAM and a mid-range motherboard, and spend that extra budget on a CPU with a higher max multiplier. The max FSB will not be so exciting, and the memory may have to run at a slower ratio, but the CPU core should be quite high.

    Which of these two schools of thought will perform the best for the price? Of course it will vary on a case-by-case basis, but an investigation would be very relevant.

    My guess is that the $300 or so required to get a high FSB mobo and fancy RAM would be better spent on a higher multiplier. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


    (Finally, I would also like to throw in my request for a review of the Gigabyte P965-DS3, as it seems to be the cheapest available Core2 motherboard with real OC potential.)
    Reply
  • Janooo - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    That's very good question. An answer would depend on what is your box meant for.
    It appears though that most of the applications are more "memory hungry" than CPU limited. That's why FSB speed is very important to overclockers.
    Reply

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