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Overlcocking and Conclusion
The Commando's BIOS is quite similar to the Striker Extreme, both having the Extreme Tweaker tab with a bevy of options to go crazy over. One of the new features in Extreme Tweaker that we haven't seen from other Intel P965 based BIOSes are the independent memory controller channel REF Voltage options. This can be tweaked up to plus or minus 30mV. Most of the other settings are quite standard, but we'll like to explain the memory frequency settings in a little more detail.
Under DRAM Frequency, you can choose DDR2-533, DDR2-667, DDR2-800, DDR2-889 and DDR2-1067 speeds. They correspond to a 1:1, 4:5, 2:3, 3:5 and 1:2 ratio with the standard 1066MHz FSB strap. Once you start overclocking though, they may work differently and for the FSB that we're shooting for, DRAM Frequency is kept to the lowest 1:1 ratio.
The ASUS C.G.I. (Cross Graphics Impeller) is an option that is supposed to optimize NB/SB and PCIe bandwidth to improve dual-GPU performance such as ATI CrossFire. This option should not impact overclocking capabilities of this board. We've heard from certain parties that mention disabling Static Read Control at higher overclocks, but this option also doesn't seem to have impact on our final overclock, so we've left it at Auto.
The following hardware configuration was used for our overclocking tests:-
- Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor (2.93GHz)
- 2 x 512MB Corsair XMS DDR2-1066
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA hard disk drive (one single NTFS partition)
- MSI GeForce 7900 GT 256MB - with NVIDIA ForceWare 91.47
- Intel INF 184.108.40.2061 and AHCI 220.127.116.112 driver set
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (and DirectX 9.0c)
- ASUS Commando BIOS 0601
Like our regular motherboard reviews, we've decided to overclock the ASUS Commando as it is; with its own stock cooling to find out just what its potential is out of the box. The Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU and Corsair DDR2-1066 memory were used to (hopefully) ensure we did not run into bottlenecks. In our attempts to overclock the Commando, we were able to get into Windows at 520MHz FSB (2080MHz PSB) and even run regular tasks like web surfing and Word. However, it wasn't stable enough to run any CPU intensive benchmarks. At 515MHz FSB however (2060MHz PSB), we were able to run through loops of PCMark05 CPU workload benchmarks, AquaMark3 and 3DMark05 stable.
They say pictures speak a thousand words, so we'll let the following set of images tell the rest of the story.
Ever since the launch of the Intel P965 chipset, we've never been able to breach the 500MHz FSB barrier. The first board to do so in our labs has been the ASUS Striker Extreme, a NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI chipset motherboard and our final overclock with it was 504MHz FSB (2016MHz PSB). The ASUS Commando becomes the first Intel P965 motherboard to achieve this and not only did it break the Striker Extreme's record by a whole 11MHz (in Intel quad pumped speak, that's 44MHz), we're seeing potential beyond 520MHz. This is certainly a stretch still from ASUS' own claims of 570MHz and above, but for a passively cooled motherboard and air cooled CPU, 515MHz FSB is amazing! Although we've not done a full review of the ASUS Commando, the board certainly lives up to its claim and we think it deserves our Most Overclockable Product award.
While the industry is slated to move to the next official speed bump at 1333MHz (333MHz FSB), current LGA775 chipsets are routinely hitting above 400MHz FSB and in the case of overclocking boards such as the ASUS Commando, we're nearly doubling the stock 266MHz FSB and moving into 500MHz territory with regular air cooling and moderate voltage adjustments.
A year ago, hitting 300MHz FSB (1200MHz PSB) on the Pentium 4 architecture was a milestone some manufacturers proudly state as a feature. We would scoff at impossibly high FSB numbers that manufacturers love to put in the BIOS. In a short span of half a year however, we're looking at frequencies a whole 200MHz higher and suddenly that 600 - 700MHz ceiling doesn't seem all that ludicrous or impossible to achieve now.
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