Biostar TH55XE H55
Intel Core i3 530 2.93GHz Processor
MSI H55M ED55 Micro ATX Motherboard
4GB Corsair PC3-12800C8 RAM
320GB Samsung Spinpoint F1 SATA II Hard Disk Drive
22x Samsung DVD+/-RW
nVidia GeForce 8800GT 512mb GDDR3 Graphics Card
Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Asus users will be able to accustom themselves to this particular BIOS without much hassle as it sports a very similar layout. For others however, the general navigation is intuitive enough and most if not all parameter names are easy to find and recognise.
The TH55-XE offers both manual and automatic overclocking modes. Over the years, it has become apparent that the focus of CPU Overclocking has expanded from the "hard core" all singing all dancing hardware enthusiasts, to those who...aren't. Frankly, I think this is great as CPU Overclocking is a great way for users to squeeze substantial amounts of additional performance out of their machines and everyone should be entitled to at least a small slice of that rewarding pie. Biostar's "AutoMate OverClock" mode offers three preset overclocks labelled V6, V8 and V12 Tech Engines, which raise your processor's Base Clock Frequency from it's nominal 133MHz to 135MHz, 140MHz and 145MHz respectively. Using our Core i3 530 2.93GHz processor, this results in clockspeeds of 2.97GHz, 3.08GHz and 3.19GHz respectively. For those who are educated in CPU overclocking, these speed bumps may appear somewhat feeble but as far as light tweaks are concerned, they appear to be very useful additions.
As some of you may know by now, it is not possible to apply a DDR3 frequency upwards of 1333MHz at default CPU frequencies on the Core i3/i5 platform. However, with XMP compliant memory and a motherboard that takes advantage of it, you're merely one click away from making the configuration of faster memory easier. Enabling XMP on our Biostar TH55-XE automatically applied our memory's parameters of 1600MHz by raising the CPU's BCLK frequency to 160MHz and applying the recommended latencies of 8-8-8-24-1T.
Now that we're done with overclocking for pansies (for now), let's get to the real business. For this motherboard to be considered a good overclocker, certain criteria must be met. First and foremost, it must feature sufficient BIOS parameters to make the overclock happen. Secondly, it must be able to attain our processor's sweetspot clockspeed of 4.10GHz but most importantly, the motherboard must also be capable of reaching as high a Base Clock Frequency as possible. With that in mind, let's continue digging through BIOS.
It goes without saying but I think we've established that the Voltage ranges are sufficient enough to satisfy all air and water cooling focused overclockers.
Overclocking - Max BCLK
Our overclocking experiences were relatively trouble free, however the maximum BCLK fell short of the previously reviewed MSI H55 ED55 and Asus P7H57D-V Evo motherboards, at just 188MHz
With our 22x Multiplier CPU, this would result in a hypothetical frequency of 4136MHz, which is not a poor show at all.
Overclocking - Max CPU Frequency
As the motherboard was capable of 188MHz BCLK, we had no trouble attaining our processor's sweetspot frequency just shy of 4100MHz.
Let's discuss some of the Biostar TH55-XE's Software Features