Nvidia 780a Chipset Preview
Test Setup, Settings & Overclocking
Rather than use our normal test setup I wanted to see just how 'adequate' the on-board VGA really is. I don't expect it to be a full on gaming solution as that is not what it was intended for but it will certainly be interesting to see how it performs, especially as it will be 'borrowing' memory from the physical 2GB of Corsair. In the full review of the Asus Crosshair II we have something special planned but for now we will just be putting the on-board VGA through it's paces.
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair II
CPU: AMD Phenom 9600
Memory Modules: 2x1 GB Corsair 2GB DDR2 XMS2 DHX PC2-6400C4DHX (4-4-4-12)
Graphics card: N/A - On-board VGA
Hard Disk: 200GB Seagate barracuda 7200.7 IDE 8mb
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit inc service pack 1
CPU Cooling: Xigmatek HDT-S1283 (Air cooler)
Power Supply: Silverstone Strider 1000W
A fresh copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit with SP1 installed along with the most recent drivers then applied. No applications/programs apart from the ones used in benchmarking were installed to ensure a totally clean fair environment to which you can base your comparison.
Synthetic CPU & Memory Subsystem
• SiSoft Sandra
• Prime95 ver25.6
• PC Probe II
File Compression & Encoding
Hard Disk I/O performance
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008cc
• 3Dmark 06
• Cinebench 10
• Call of Duty 4
• Company of Heroes
It is common knowledge that the AMD CPU’s of late have not been great overclockers regardless of what motherboard has been used especially when compared to Intel AMD already seem to have binned their chips at the max level. Add to the fact that the CPU we have is a B2 revision (rather than the better clocking B3) which is reportedly very stubborn in the overclocking department should make this overclocking experience a very testing one. We will however, endeavour to get the best results possible on air cooling which hopefully will provide the end user with some insight as to the possibilities available with this motherboard. We are particularly interested in the power regulation with the 8+2 phase design and while only having a mid-top end air cooler available which no doubt limits the amount of vcore available to use safely, we will see how far we are able to push the vcore and what vdrop/droop is encountered when the CPU is under 100% load.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I expected a much bigger overclock but I guess the CPU I have really is nothing special and despite my best efforts which includes 2 days of fiddling with the many BIOS options, the most I could squeeze out of it was little over 2.5ghz. I had similar luck with the max FSB of the board despite raising the voltages past what I would normally recommend. Any more than 220FSB, regardless of CPU multi and voltages, simply refused to POST. Despite the many voltage, CPU and memory tweaks the Crosshair has, it made little effect on the max FSB, emphasizing the fact that this board and therefore my overclocking were crippled by the Phenom in this review.
I still managed to beat the previous 200mhz overclock we had previously on the Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe albeit only by 20mhz. One good point to come out of this is that I didn’t notice ANY droop when putting the CPU under load – the vcore just didn’t budge – testament to the 8+2 phase power delivery the Crosshair II has.
It was a very frustrating couple of days testing and in the end I had to accept what I fealt was defeat. It’s a real shame especially as this board is crying out for a decent CPU, which hopefully AMD can deliver with later revisions of the Phenom.
Let’s see how the benchmarks fair.
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