ASUS A7V600: Feature-Laden – Value-Pricedby Wesley Fink on August 17, 2003 10:27 PM EST
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ASUS A7V600: Stress TestingWe performed stress tests on the ASUS A7V600 in these areas and configurations:
1. Chipset and motherboard stress testing, which was conducted by running the FSB at 212MHz; and
2. Memory stress testing, which was conducted by running RAM at 400MHz with two DIMM slots filled, and at 400MHz with three DIMM slots filled at the lowest memory timings possible.
Front Side Bus Stress Test Results:As standard practice, we ran a full range of stress tests and benchmarks to ensure the ASUS A7V600 was absolutely stable at each overclocked FSB speed. These stress tests included Prime95 torture tests, which were run in the background for a total of 24 hours.
In addition, we ran several other tasks - data compression, various DX8 and DX9 games, and apps like Word and Excel - while Prime95 was running in the background. Finally, we ran our benchmark suite, which includes ZD Winstone suite, Unreal Tournament 2003, SPECViewperf 7.0, and Gun Metal Benchmark 2. While we were able to boot and run some tests at speeds as high as 218MHz FSB at default voltage, 212MHz was the highest overclock that we were able to achieve with the ASUS without encountering any reliability issues.
Memory Stress Test Results:The memory stress test is very simple, as it tests the ability of the A7V600 to operate at its officially supported memory frequency (400MHz DDR) at the lowest supported memory timings that our Corsair TwinX LL modules support:
|Stable Dual DDR400 Timings
(2/3 banks populated)
|RAS to CAS Delay:||3T|
The A7V600 did not exhibit the lowest timings that we have seen on a KT600 board. However, ASUS provides charts that show some DDR400 modules are only recommended for one DIMM operation, while others can support three DDR400 DIMMs. Our Corsair 3200LL V1.2 DIMMs were not listed on either chart. Nonetheless, we were still able to achieve stable operation with two DIMMs at 2-3-6-2 timings. Keep in mind here that six is the lowest RAS Precharge setting available on this KT600 board, so these settings were only slightly slower than the fastest timings that could possibly be set. Despite several attempts, we could not get stable performance at 2-2-6-2, even with Turbo turned off. We should point out that this latest V1.2 of Corsair 3200LL has SPD timings of 2-3-6-2, and not 2-2-6-2 like the now-discontinued V1.1. However, we checked V1.2 at 2-4-2-2 timings with several nForce2 boards in dual-channel mode, and it performed fine at those aggressive timings in the nForce2 Ultra 400 boards. The memory controller of the KT600 chipset is obviously a different design than the nForce2 Ultra 400 controller. However, also keep in mind that lower memory timings do not always translate into the fastest memory performance. Lowest memory timings is just one means of comparing motherboards. It is most useful when comparing boards based on the same chipset.
Filling all three available memory banks is much more strenuous on the memory subsystem than testing two banks filled. In fact, on the ASUS A7V600, we were doing something ASUS does not recommend. While ASUS makes it clear that the A7V600 is designed to support a maximum of two DDR400 DIMMs (and only one DIMM with some brands), we wanted to determine for ourselves if three DDR400 DIMMs could work at 400MHz. While three DDR400 DIMMs would not work at CAS2, with or without Turbo timings or other timings adjustments, the three DIMMs did work at DDR400 by slowing CAS slightly to 2.5:
|Stable DDR400 Timings
(3/3 banks populated)
|RAS to CAS Delay:||3T|
We were pleased to see that the ASUS ran with stability using three DDR400 DIMMs. We did have to slow the CAS timing a bit for stable performance, so you should keep this in mind if you plan to run three DDR400 DIMMs against ASUS’ current recommendations. It’s worth stating again that the real world performance difference between aggressive memory timings and more relaxed memory timings, such as SPD, are often very small.
We tested all these memory timings using several stress tests and general applications to guarantee stability. Prime95 torture tests were successfully run at the timings listed in the above charts. We also ran Sciencemark (memory tests only) and Super Pi. None of the three stress tests created stability problems for the ASUS A7V600 at these memory timings.
While the A7V600 was very stable in our tests, it required slightly slower memory timings than we have needed for other KT600 motherboards.