S-ATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 devices may seem non-existent right now, but the motherboards to power them are certainly not. We’re taking a look at one of Gigabyte’s first “333″ motherboards that supports both technologies, the feature-packed P55A-UD4P. At $180, it’s priced-right given its feature-set, and overclocks like a dream, too.
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.
As I mentioned in all my motherboard, and overclocking reports in general, due to the general temperature of the room I benchmark in, and the fact that the cooler I use is used for months at a time, I don’t have ideal situations. Therefore, I can’t confidentally state anything but a modest overclock to be stable, because at the high-end, the CPU gets too hot for me. That’s not to say that you wouldn’t have much better luck, however, if your cooling situation is better than mine (I’m guessing it is).
That said, achieving a great overclock on this board isn’t too difficult. I first used the included EasyTune 6 overclocking software that came with the driver DVD, and that quickly boosted the processor to 3.80GHz “stable”. I use quotes, because LinX conked out with an error after the 14th iteration. That’s quite far, though, and what ended it were the temperatures I’m sure (98°C on one particular core). But, I wanted to go for the gusto to see what it was made of, and I got to 4.4GHz without much of a hassle:
Remarkably, that overclock was stable through multiple runs of Cinebench (with reboots in between), and while I’m sure the performance throttled just a wee bit, the end scores scaled according to my expectations. I should note that all of this was achieved within a few hours, so it really takes little effort to accomplish some great overclocks. For this monster 4.4GHz overclock, I had to manually bump the voltage up, but because of the EasyTune 6 application I used earlier on, the rest of the voltages were already set for me.
What I’d recommend anyone do for their personal overclock is to do what I did, and let EasyTune 6 overclock the processor using the extreme profile. After it’s done, stress test the system to see if it’s stable, and if so, continue along with the manual route to see if you can’t get it higher. You’ll definitely get it higher, but whether or not it’s going to be stable or not of course depends on numerous factors.