Socket 754 Roundup: Comparing Generation 2by Wesley Fink on May 28, 2004 5:57 PM EST
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Epox 8KDA3+: Overclocking and Stress Testing
FSB Overclocking Results
|Front Side Bus Overclocking Testbed|
|Processor:||Athlon 64 3200+
|CPU Voltage:||1.5V (default)|
|Cooling:||AMD Stock Athlon 64 Heatsink/Fan|
|Power Supply:||Antec TruePower 430W|
|283FSB x 8 at 1:1 Memory|
The working AGP/PCI lock on the nForce3-250 is allowing all our test boards to reach the 246-248 range with this late 3200+. A 24% overclock at stock multiplier is the kind of overclocking performance that many have been looking for since the Athlon 64 was first introduced. Frankly, tests of earlier chips were lucky to reach a 10% overclock, so our results here are no guarantee that your Athlon 64 can achieve this same overclock level.
Dropping the multiplier, and testing 1:1 with one DDR550 DIMM, we achieved the highest 1:1 FSB overclock that we have ever accomplished on an Athlon 64 board at 283FSB or DDR566. This result is as good as we have been able to reach with this same memory on our Intel memory test bed; that speaks well for the stability of the Epox 8KDA3+ design. Epox has done an outstanding job with the BIOS updates for the 8KDA3+. The Epox was not very impressive when we first saw it, but the Epox BIOS magic has turned the 8KDA3+ into a remarkable overclocker.
HyperTransport could be maintained at the 4X (800 setting) up to a 266 FSB setting, which is excellent performance. Above this point to the 1:1 maximum of 283 FSB, we needed a 3X HT setting. We're a little surprised that Epox did not provide a 5X HT setting in BIOS, but even without that option, the Epox 8KDA3+ was an exceptional performer.
Memory Stress Test Results:The memory stress test is very basic, as it simply tests the ability of the Epox 8KDA3+ 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.
|Stable DDR400 Timings - 2 DIMMs
(2/3 DIMMs populated)
|RAS to CAS Delay:||2T|
(10T for Best Performance)*
*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 original BIOS of the Epox 8KDA3+ was rock solid with one DIMM, but not very stable with two DIMMs - requiring slower timings. The latest BIOS greatly improves the Epox memory performance, allowing the same aggressive timings with 2 DIMMs that we could use with one DIMM.
Filling all three available memory slots is more strenuous on the memory subsystem than testing 2 DIMMs on a motherboard. Epox does not recommend using 3 double-sided DIMMs, and in this case, it is solid advice. No matter what we tried, or how slow the timings we set, 3 double-sided DIMMs would not operate in the 8KDA3+. We do not consider the inability to run 3 DS DIMMs a real handicap on a Single-Channel memory motherboard, but if this is an important feature to you, the Epox is not the motherboard to run 3 DIMMs. Despite the fact that 3 DS DIMMs are not officially supported on the nForce3-250, the other nF3-250 boards did manage to run 3 DIMMs, some at the same aggressive timings used for 2 DIMMs.