Asus K8N-E: 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: Thermaltake Silent Boost K8 Heatsink/Fan
Power Supply: OCZ Power Stream 520W
Memory: OCZ PC3200 EL Platinum Rev. 2
or Geil PC3200 Ultra X
Maximum OC:
(Standard Ratio)
246 x 10 (IDE), 230 x 10 (SATA)
2460MHz (+23%)
Maximum FSB:
(Lower Ratio)
271 x 9 (1:1 Memory, IDE, 2 DIMMs)
230 x 9 at (1:1 Memory, SATA, 2 DIMMs)

The decision by Asus to use Silicon Image SATA instead is really a drawback in overclocking. Whether using the 2 nVidia SATA channels or any of the 4 Sil3114 channels, the highest overclock that we could achieve with our standard SATA drive was 230, much lower than some other nF3-250 boards. When using an IDE drive, the K8N-E fared better, reaching a stable 271 FSB at 1:1 before failing boot. While this is a much better overclock, it is still below the performances of the DFI, MSI, Epox, and Chaintech 754 boards that we have tested.

Due to the overclock limits found with SATA drives on the Asus, we would recommend using IDE drives with the Asus if you plan to overclock. The Asus can handle reasonable overclocks with a SATA drive, and we confirmed AGP/PCI is definitely working. However, the highest overclocks could only be achieved using IDE hard drives.

Memory Stress Test Results:

The memory stress test is very basic, as it tests the ability of the Asus K8N-E to operate at its officially supported memory frequency (400MHz DDR), at the best performing memory timings that our OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev. 2 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
(2/3 Dimms populated - Single-Channel mode)
Clock Speed: 200MHz
CAS Latency: 2.0
RAS to CAS Delay: 2T
RAS Precharge: 10T*
Precharge Delay: 2T
Command Rate: 1T
*Several memory tests have shown that memory performs fastest on the nVidia nForce chipsets at a TRas (RAS Precharge) settings 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 performance 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. All benchmarks were run at a TRas setting of 10.

The Asus K8N-E was completely stable with 2 DIMMs at the best performing settings of 2-2-2-10, at default speed. Command Rate was set to Auto, but is reported as performing at 1T in SiSoft Sandra benchmarks.

Filling all three available memory slots is more strenuous on the memory sub-system than testing 2 DIMMs on a motherboard.

Stable DDR400 Timings - 3 DIMMs
(3/3 DIMMs populated - Single-Channel mode)
Clock Speed: 200MHz
CAS Latency: 2.0
RAS to CAS Delay: 2T
RAS Precharge: 10T*
Precharge Delay: 2T
Command Rate: 2T
*Several memory tests have shown that memory performs fastest on the nVidia nForce chipsets at a TRas (RAS Precharge) settings 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 performance 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. All benchmarks were run at a TRas setting of 10.

We were very pleased to find that 3 DS DIMMs (1.5GB) of memory worked fine at the same aggressive timings that we used for 2 DIMMs. This is very good performance for the K8N-E in our memory stress test. However, we should point out that while the Asus was stable in most of our benchmark tests with 3 DIMMs, it was not completely stable in Quake 3 or Return to Castle Wolfenstein with 3 DIMMs. Memory voltage increases were just not an option. It appears that our fast memory really wants 2.8V with 3 DIMMs and this shows up in some games. The limited memory voltage range may well be your real limiter in overclocking with 3 DIMMs.

Asus K8N-E: Features and Layout Soltek K8AN2E-GR: Features and Layout
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  • Term - Monday, September 27, 2004 - link

    Uhm.. the new ASUS bios fix the OC stability problem with SATA right? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, September 18, 2004 - link

    #34 - The Asus K8N-E manual does state 3MB of memory as the maximum capacity. The specifications have been corrected in the review. Reply
  • LocutusX - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link

    Daxzus,

    For more accurate "real-world advice" concerning the K8N-E, please see the unofficial thread for that mobo at the Anandtech forums. There are people there who have been using it extensively for the last 2 months, who have tried a wide variety of components/overclocking on it.
    Reply
  • justly - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    #27 – Wesley
    Thank you for the explanation about your testing methodology, now I feel more comfortable knowing that you do check for these minor deviations when comparing new products against older ones.

    #28 – Wesley (again)
    I agree about it being a shame that SiS seems to always get dumped on by big name motherboard manufactures and that even when a good product hits the street it seems to get forgotten about or overlooked. The thing is I still think you are just as guilty as many others reviewers. If you don’t understand what I mean then just look at #32 (by PrinceGaz) since I would have said the EXACT same thing.
    This might be a little arrogant of me, but would it really hurt to mention their product when talking about a section of the market that they perform so well in (non-overclockers).
    Reply
  • Daxzus - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    also...I was wondering if anyone has a good powersupply and case that might work good for me for a good price. Reply
  • Daxzus - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    I read every thing that was in the review about the 3 diffrent motherboards and I have some questions.

    In the review it was said that the Asus K8N-E deluxe maxed out at 2GB of memory, but at newegg and some all the other places I can buy it from-and even Asus homepage, say that the Asus K8N-E deluxe has a max of 3GB of memory. What this in error in the reveiw or am I looking at buying the wrong board?

    Also I was thinking about buying the Asus K8N-E deluxe and I have a college budget and I was wanting to get some recomendation as to some really good cheap memory to get for it. Also maybe some good budget video cards. I saw that in the review that ATI 9800 was used...wouldn't a Nvidia video card work better considering the chip set?

    but all in all thank for the info that you put into the reviews Fink!

    Dax
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    I just hope that your upcoming OC article will at least mention sempron 3100+, since you (AT)did promise to OC it, but untill now you have not done so. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    #28 Wesley Fink-

    From the aricle- "If overclocking is not particularly important to you, then one of the first generation boards based on the VIA chipset might also meet your needs at a lower price."

    And your reply- "There is actually another complaint about Sis. None of the Sis A64 cipsets I have tested, including the 939 Reference Board, have a working PCI/AGP lock."

    If overclocking is not particularly important to someone, the lack of a PCI/AGP lock wouldn't matter.
    Reply
  • jwix - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    The article mentions overclocking difficulties with SATA drives with the DFI board being the exception. I wonder....if running 2 drives in a raid 1 config, would it make it any more difficult to overclock on the DFI? Reply
  • LocutusX - Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - link

    "The problem is ports 1 and 2 on nVidia are coupled with the PHY Gigabit LAN and generally will not overclock very well."

    Source?
    Reply

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