by Rob Williams on November 19, 2009 in Motherboards
On the lookout for a P55 motherboard to match that shiny new Lynnfield CPU? Given the sheer selection available, deciding on one can be a hassle. ASUS’ P7P55D Pro looks to appeal to a large crowd, though, by offering a slew of useful options, impressive overclocking abilities and a great design for an easy-to-stomach $170.
Before we get into our overclocking results, allow me to clarify how we do things. In order to declare an overclock as “stable”, we stress it as hard as possible for a certain period of time, both with CPU-related tests and also GPU-related, to conclude on what we’ll be confident is 100% stability throughout all possible computing scenarios.
For the sake of CPU stress-testing, we use LinX. Compared to other popular CPU stress-testers, LinX’s tests are far more gruelling, and proof of that is seen by the fact that it manages to heat the CPU up to 20°C hotter than competing applications, like SP2004. Generally, if the CPU survives the first half-hour of this stress, there’s a good chance that it’s mostly stable.
If the CPU stress passes without error, then GPU stress-testing begins, in order to assure a system-wide stable overclock. To test for this, 3DMark Vantage’s Extreme test is used, with the increased resolution of 2560×1600, looped nine times. If this passes, some time is dedicated to real-world game testing, to make sure that gaming is just as stable as it would be if the CPU were at stock. If both these CPU and GPU tests pass without issue, we can confidently declare a stable overclock.
Overclocking with ASUS’ P7P55D Pro
One thing that separates ASUS’ recent boards from the rest is the TurboV EVO overclocking software. I often shun overclocking software, because it takes far longer to achieve a decent overclock with than it would if you just went into the BIOS and took care of it yourself. And then there’s the problem of the software “auto-tuner” simply taking too long, or wimping out after a measly 5 – 10% overclock is achieved.
ASUS wants to change opinions with TurboV EVO, and do to so, its created a special chip on the motherboard that interacts with this software directly. During the process of tuning, it checks in to make sure voltages and temperatures are in line, along with stability. As it increases the BCLK and other things, it will re-test using an internal stress-tester to verify stability. If everything checks out, it will continue going until the PC crashes.
During the process of auto-tuning, nothing else can be done on the PC as the software takes over the entire screen. As it does its magic, you can sit back and enjoy the show. There are many animations and cool-looking effects that adds to the overall appeal of the tool. I believe this is the first ever piece of ASUS software that has impressed me where aesthetics are concerned. I mean, just look at it!
There are three options to choose from for the auto-tuner, with the most interesting being “Extreme Tuning”. With the CPU at stock speeds, I went ahead and let the program do its thing, and after a reboot, it told me that a 33% boost to the CPU was a success, from 2.66GHz to 3.88GHz. That’s what I call an overclock!
After that clock was established, TurboV EVO attempted to go even further, but going higher was just out of the question, so it left me with the overclock seen above. If my temperature situation was better, I’m confident it would have gone even higher, but any way you look at it, 3.88GHz for no effort whatsoever is nothing to scoff at!
Ignoring TurboV EVO entirely, the process of overclocking with the P7P55D Pro is an absolute breeze, thanks not only in part to the exhaustive number of BIOS tweaking options, but also because the board can handle a lot of pain. That said, I haven’t quite settled on a top-end stable overclock, just because the CPU got far too hot. Your situation might be different, where an even higher overclock will prove cooler. It depends on not only the CPU cooler itself, but the ambient room temperature as well.
Like the only other P55 board I’ve overclocked with so far, Gigabyte’s P55-UD5, I reached a stable overclock of 3.70GHz with ease, but I wanted to go further, and see just how high I could push things while putting up with the near 100°C temperatures. One result is below. Yes, that’s 4.2GHz. You can click on it to see that it was stable enough to handle a couple of runs of Cinebench, with very nice scores.
This might not be an ultra high-end board, but it sure has proved itself where overclocking is concerned. If temps weren’t an issue, I might have even gone further, because as stable as it was at 4.2GHz, I can tell that some headroom remains. But as it is, 3.70GHz (185MHz x 20) proved LinX stable on our Core i7-870, which is still a great overclock. If temps don’t get in your way, I have little doubt you’ll push well beyond that.