There are numerous P35 boards available, so what does a company have to do to have an edge? Well, as far as ASUS is concerned, they should produce feature-packed boards that also come with many extras, including a game and 3D Mark 06. Oh… not to mention a water-cooled northbridge!
When ASUS conjured up the idea for the Blitz boards, overclockers were in their minds, without question. So, there is no doubt we should expect some incredible overclocking, right? Well, yes and no, but it depends on your viewpoint of what makes a successful overclock.
Without water-cooling, the max front-side-bus I could muster was 480MHz… which proved stable over an eight hour period, though I forgot to take a desktop screenshot to prove the fact. Both the Extreme and Formula boards topped out the -exact- same. The FSB wasn’t just the same, but the temperatures as well. At that speed, the northbridge runs at 61°C and the southbridge at 54°C. Warm, but not extreme.
What happens when water comes into the picture?
Here is where I expected to see very large gains, but I did not. Even on water, I topped out at 480FSB. Running SP2004 at 485FSB at -any- voltage level would spawn errors promptly. Once again, this was the case on both boards… they were remarkably similar, which leads me to believe that this general range will be the most popular top overclock for the board.
I should also explain the above picture a little better. I am not running the Northbridge cooling off of the same water-cooling as the CPU. Instead, I am using two separate Corsair Nautilus 500s for the sake of easy un-installation when swapping motherboards.
What is water good for, if not better overclocking? Well, the temperatures, and temperatures only. Whereas the northbridge topped out at 46.9°C without water, it topped out at 37.1°C with. Indeed, a full 10°C drop is nothing jaw-dropping, but it’s definitely a nice gain, especially if you already have a water-cooling setup. Temperatures were gathered with Everest 4.0 while the CPU was stressed to 100% for the period of a half-hour. Also, our 333FSB setting ran with default NB voltages while 480FSB was cranked to 1.75v.
The thing to note though, is that the Northbridge was not the only thing to benefit from the water. Significant decreases were seen with the Southbridge as well, in addition to the processor. At both 333FSB and 480FSB, the CPU dropped 10°C, like the Northbridge, which was nice to see considering our Quad-Core needs all the cooling help it can get. I should note that it seems that a Dual-Core processor would see even more significant decreases, although due to time constraints, we were unable to re-test prior to this review.
I am very confident in assuming that 480FSB – 485FSB will be the top FSB overclock that most will accomplish. If I had only one Blitz and found that to be the top overclock, I’d have some doubts, but where I have both models to compare to, it’s hard to ignore the fact that they both topped out identically.
What I did find impressive about the boards though, is that they are exceptional memory overclockers. Up until now, I’ve been using eVGA’s 680i for our memory reviews, simply because it overclocks modules far better than anything else I’ve used. No longer, as the Blitz proved to overclock just as well. For a test, I ran my OCZ Reaper 2GB 9200 kit at 642MHz for two hours, and didn’t receive a single error. Impressive.