Page 2 of 6
The Chipset is without a doubt a fast one and it can run 1T commmand rate on more expensive overclocking-friendly memory-modules, that should allow for some speed increase in memory hungry applications. The downside is, it gets extremly hot. Good case-cooling is required, because the cooling solution can barely cope with the heat. Increasing the northbridge voltage will crash your board without porper cooling in seconds. If you already have an SLI setup, this board may be a nice upgrade. Using only one PCIe x16 graphic-card, the second PCIe x16 slot is unusable.
MSI has choosen an AMI BIOS, which has some glitches. The CPU-fan will not slow down when you are using a standard 3-pin fan, other manufactures can do this. The overclocking options are inconsistent. You need to enter the marketing speak FSB, instead of 320 you have to enter 1280, use the delete key and enter the number, as using the +/- keys will take ages. FSB VTT Voltage can only be increased in percent-steps not in 0.05V steps. The "current" CPU frequency is always displayed wrong. The overclocking "warning" message is only annoying. When overclocking you should disable the "EIST" feature, but this setting was ignored completly. MSI has a lot of work ahead.
We received the 1.22 BIOS from MSI, which is dated March 15th, 2007 - but still not available on any MSI website. This BIOS should only have a fix for the CPU-multiplier, now lower settings are possible.
The results were disappointing. Regardsless what we tried, any attempt to set the FSB over 400MHz failed. 400MHz was the highest possible even with 1.50V on the northbridge. The Northbridge temperature quickly exceeds 60°C and the board crashes. You need to use the incredibly loud fan that MSI has supplied with the board. This is a 4cm Y.S.-Tech fan called "FD124010EB" running at an insane 7500rpm - welcome to the world of servers. 333MHz FSB was possible without a hitch, at 366MHz we needed to increase the northbridge voltage to 1.30V, 373MHz needed 1.35V for stability, booting was however possible with lower settings.
The board is limited to 1066MHz, so buying 1200MHz memory won't give you any benefit. For testing purposes we stuck to 800MHz, because we can run CR1T and higher settings will require 2T, so the benefit will be consumed by slower command rate and relaxed timings. Of course you will not always receive the frequencies you choose, because the ratios between FSB and memory are limited. Sadly you can't set the ratio, so you won't see the resulting frequency.
If you own a CPU with a high multiplier you are very lucky, because you need it to achieve high frequencies. We could boot up to 3750MHz, but it was impossible to run any tests. With 3733MHz we could run LameMT and 3DMark 06, but Gordian Knot was always crashing, so it seems our CPU doesn't like frequencies above 3.70GHz when the SSE units are used heavily, even with a dangerous Vcore of 1.65V. Setting higher voltages to the FSB and/or Southbridge didn't help either, so on all other settings they were left untouched. The Vcore drop on this board is very good resulting in 0.02V-0.03V up to 1.55V, higher Vcores could cause higher Vdrop.