Overclocking

GIGABYTE advertises the GA-EP45-UD3P as a mainstream motherboard and will nudge users towards their enthusiast-oriented EP45 Extreme series or X48 boards for overclocking duties. We are here to say that is a big mistake based upon our results. We expected solid overclocking based on the BIOS design and board components, but this board clocked just as well or better than any upper-end P45 or X48 boards we have in the labs.

True, there are boards that might hit higher FSB rates or offer better memory performance, but we are concentrating on mainstream overclocking abilities in our tests. We focus on the type of overclocks that support 24/7 operation with reasonable cooling and the ability to run a multitude of programs without a problem. We are not optimizing for SuperPI or 3DMark records; it's more like trying to keep our bank records safe from a crash (sadly, there's nothing we can do about banks crashing).

We put an emphasis on stability during our testing sessions so we test with real world applications ranging from a variety of games to digital imaging software to various audio/video creation programs, along with the normal OCCT and PCMark Vantage tests.

Q9550 4GB Results


Our maximum overclock on air-cooling with the Q9550 resulted in a 4.25GHz clock speed at a respectable 500MHz FSB with our 4GB G.Skill memory kit set to DDR2-1000 at 5-5-4-15 timings. The primary voltages settings were 1.36V NB, 1.38V VTT, 1.70V PLL, 2.00V VDimm, and 1.425V for the CPU. We tried to run the memory higher, but could not get stability at the DDR2-1200 mark in Nero Recode or Crysis. Vdroop was approximately -.02V with Load Line Calibration (LLC) enabled and -.035V with it disabled at idle. Under load Vdroop was -.025V with LLC enabled and -.05V with it disabled.

Q9550 8GB Results


We were able to reach the same 8.5x500 for a 4.25GHz clock speed with 8GB at DDR2-1000 with 5-5-5-15 timings. However, our voltage settings changed to 1.38V NB, 1.40V VTT, 1.70V PLL, 2.06V VDimm, and 1.450V for the CPU to compensate for the additional load on the MCH. Under load Vdroop was -.02V with LLC enabled and -.05V with it disabled.

E8600 Results


Our maximum overclock on air-cooling with the E8600 came with a blistering 4.40GHz clock speed at a fully stable 550MHz FSB rate. Our 4GB G.Skill memory kit allowed us to reach DDR2-1100 at 5-5-5-18 settings. We used the following voltage settings: 1.40V NB, 1.36V VTT, 1.72V PLL, 2.08V VDimm, and 1.500V for the CPU. We had to drop to 8x500 to get 8GB stable while keeping VDimm below 2.1V, PLL below 1.80V, and NB below 1.50V. Vdroop was approximately -.01V with Load Line Calibration (LLC) enabled and -.025V with it disabled at idle. Under load Vdroop was -.02V with LLC enabled and -.04V with it disabled.

E8600 Additional Results


We knew we had a good E8600, so we pulled out our CoolIT Systems Freezone Elite kit and decided to see how far we could get on this board. We ended up at 5GHz with a 10x CPU multiplier and FSB set to 500. We installed 8GB of memory and ran it at DDR2-1000 with 5-5-5-15 timings. We used the following voltage settings: 1.42V NB, 1.40V VTT, 1.76V PLL, 2.04V VDimm, and 1.5675V (1.550V was stable after raising NB to 1.46V) for the CPU. This is the first time we have reached a stable 5GHz with this processor in a P45 board. Vdroop was similar to our results above.

Thoughts

We have absolutely no concerns about recommending this board for 24/7 500FSB+ use. This board overclocks quad-core chips just as easily as it does dual-core offerings, which is a feat that most P45 boards cannot accomplish. Depending on your processor choice, the Northbridge (MCH) and PLL voltages are two prime settings open for reduction. We only utilize retail processors so it is up to luck if we get a good processor or not for overclocking.

We ultimately ran our E8600 at 585FSB stable in all our applications except for Adobe Premier Pro 4.0; it would constantly hang at any FSB setting above 550. We also tried to verify GIGABYTE’s claim of DDR2-1366 support but our 2GB DDR2-1250 memory kit was unable to get above 1300. However, this is the first board that ran it stable at 1300 so we think it is just a limitation of our memory kit - or reluctance to push more than 2.4V into it.

In regards to voltage regulation, we think the GA-EP45-UD3P has excellent voltage output. We checked all the major voltages with a DMM and found very little variance between what you select in the BIOS and what the board actually outputs. The VTT, PLL, DIMM, and other voltages are accurate and stable across the spectrum. They show no real variances between idle and load states; if anything, we would see a small +.005V rise at times. As discussed, there is line droop on VCore when switching from idle to load situations. However, we found it was not substantial enough to affect stability or overclocking capabilities.



Software Features... Test Setup
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  • Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    Gary,
    many people including someone who posted here in the comments have the problem that the board won't boot in dual channel but everything is perfectly stable in single channel and the RAM sticks have all been verified to be working.
    Did you experience this problem when reviewing the board? The standard Gigabyte tech support guy has no clue how to fix this problem :( Could you maybe contact someone at GB to see if they're aware of this issue and if there is a fix for it?

    Would be great if you could do that!

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Nickel020 - Saturday, February 14, 2009 - link

    I've been working on it and it seems that the RAM runs fine in single channel mode and slots 1 & 2.
    Trying DIMM clock skew now to check whether this may fix it.
    Reply
  • GhettoFly - Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - link

    DFI's UT P45-T2RS isn't getting a lot of press coverage, but it's making some noise on enthusiast forums. Given Anandtech's excellent articles in the past on DFI boards, I was just curious if you guys planned to take a look at it, or was this Gigabyte the last P45 board you're going to review? Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    I have the EP45-DS3R and it performs very well. I have the Q6600 up to 3.42Ghz with ST 800Mhz memory. OC much better than the dead IP35E MB it replaced and I had thought I bought a lower performing board since it cost me $95 at frys :) Reply
  • Believer - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    I'm personally having major issues with this board and with my set of 4x2048MB OCZ Reavers.

    But then I don't receive cherry-picked products or have a hot-line to their tech support either.

    Reading up on a quite a few tech forums now have shown me I'm far from the only one with similar issues too.

    I suffer from the endless reboot cycling, the inability to boot with 4 memory modules installed and nonworking dual-channel support at either default, fail-safe or optimized BIOS settings.

    Upgrading BIOS to F7 didn't solve anything either.

    In order to get anything booted up I need to first install only 1 memory module, change in BIOS with upped Voltages to the MCH and DRAM, lower the FSB and/or memory to 800 and up the latencies.

    With such a change I can boot with all 4 of my Reavers installed.
    Yey...

    I have a friend with this board and Reaver memory too, and he can't OC the board the slightest without it crashing... not even slightly past the default PC2-1066 memory speeds, with FSB 333. But he doesn't have the other basic memory issues I'm having though. His and mine CPU temperature readings are low into the 30ish degree Celsius area too.

    Oh, and I might add I'm into my second RMA of the board without much of an improvement. The 2 boards showed two very different kind of memory issues though. But my memory runs just fine as long as I install them one and one, or 2 without dual channel config, I've stress tested them endlessly on default settings like that without problems.

    Anyone with similar issues that know what could be the fault?

    I have not get any response from Gigabyte's own tech support regarding this. Me and a few others with similar issues are being ignored on one of their own official support threads. That's service...

    I'm having a tech support from OCZ to help me sort out the problems too however, but he's leaning that it would seem to be my boards fault... again.

    Seem like third RMA might be getting closer.
    ... or I sit and drum my fingers waiting for Gigabyte to finally address the issues.
    Reply
  • Jynx980 - Friday, February 13, 2009 - link

    Mine wouldn't even boot up. The CPU fan would not spin. A couple of other people on the Newegg reviews mention this problem also. How long did it take you to get your RMA approved? Mine is still "open" after a week. Tech support was ok. It took a couple of days but they did respond. Also haven't heard anything about the mail in rebate, and that's been about a month. I sent in a mushkin rebate on the same day to the same rebate center and I already have gotten the check. Reply
  • syseng - Friday, June 12, 2009 - link

    Gigabyte is obviously having financial problems. After 4 months, I do not have the rebates for my motherboard or graphics card. The companyhandling the rebates said Gigabyte has not released rebate checks in "quite a while". Resellers like Newegg should just drop them if they are not going to honor their commitments. Reply
  • Isme - Thursday, December 03, 2009 - link

    Gigabyte has had "financial" problems for 15 years. Quality has varied from time to time though it has usually been cases of bad engineering rather than bad workmanship.

    I think the "financial" problems aspect is that they are just cheap skates who intend that if anyone gets shafted on a deal it won't be Gigabyte. That is to say that direct exchanges have never been pleasant for private individuals. You really want to be buffered through a retailer or wholesale who is doing mass returns...or be an important reviewer...or just very patient.

    Reply
  • Believer - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    Correct that, I just got a generic response from one of Gigabyte Tech Support.

    Looks like they're trying to pin-point it to the memory modules as no ordinary combination of 2 memory pairs are ever specifically supported to work together.
    Reply
  • Isme - Thursday, December 03, 2009 - link

    Hmmm...does that mean the board really only supports a single dual channel pair? That would mean the other 2 slots are basically there is nice looking decoration only.

    Or was that response simply saying that Gigabyte never tested the motherboard with all 4 slots filled with off-the-shelf memory rather than hand-picked laboratory measured memory modules? Thus their answer could be more accurately paraphrased "we haven't got a clue and its your problem now sucker". With the whole overclocking fad I can sort of see this as a corporate answer (HObbyist know as much as we do and are willing to spend time -- so why should we waste our time providing a solution).

    Still it would be nice if they proved their claims using at least a couple sets of stock hardware in an non-overclocked configuration BEFORE releasing and advertising to the general public.
    Reply

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