AOpen's Core Duo Flagship i975Xa-YDG motherboard

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TEST RESULTS

The BIOS was left at default settings for the most part. As mentioned previously, the range of adjustments with SPCR-relevant controls (such as fan control) was minimal.

1. Standard Settings

The processor details at idle and maximum load are shown below. As EIST (Enhanced Intel Speedstep Technology) is enabled, the clock speed and Vcore vary dynamically with load. The effect of the Power Master settings are also reported. Note that the system AC power includes the power demand of the Asus 1600XT graphics card.

A: TEST SYSTEM MEASUREMENTS
STATE
CPU Clock
CPU Vcore
2x12V Power
AC Power
Idle
996 MHz
0.952V
3.35W
68.5W
CPUBurn
2159 MHz
1.241V
29.5W
94.8W
CPUBurn + RTHDRIBL
2159 MHz
1.241V
29.5W
116.3W

The fans did not change in speed, regardless of load. The CPU fan was reportedly ~1700 RPM, while the small NB heatsink fan was at ~3400 RPM. At idle, the CPU temperature was reportedly below 20°C and well below ambient. This requires many grains of salt to believe, but it's hardly relevant anyway. Cooling at load not exceptional but it was perfectly adequate. As is so often the case, the location of the "board" sensor was not documented anywhere; later, it became clear that this is most likely the NB chip.

B: THERMALS & NOISE MEASUREMENTS
STATE
CPU
Board (NB)
SPL (dBA@1m)
Idle
18°C
42°C
25
CPUBurn
48°C
50°C
25

The noise of the two fans was a bit louder and more annoying than the 25 dBA@1m reading would suggest. The worse offender was the 40 or 50mm chipset fan, which has a rough character. The audio recording in MP3 format on the next page gives a pretty good idea of what it sounds like.

2. Power Master

The effects of the Power Master settings are reported below. The total power of the system dropped a bit in idle, and it rose a bit at full load, as expected due to the 20% underclock at idle and 8% overclock at maximum load.

C: TEST SYSTEM w/POWER MASTER
STATE
CPU Clock
CPU Vcore
2x12V Power
AC Power
Idle
791 MHz
0.944V
3.15W
66.7W
CPUBurn
2341 MHz
1.232V
31.1W
97.4W
CPUBurn + RTHDRIBL
2341 MHz
1.232V
31.1W
118.5W

Power Master had a small effect on temperature, mainly of the CPU. After half an hour of CPUBurn, the processor temperature reached 54°C, six degrees higher than at stock speed, while the NB temperature stayed the same as before.

3. Overclocking

The default overclocking range provided in the BIOS is 16.6%, achievable by increasing the front side bus from 166 MHz up to 199 MHz. When the JP4 and JP5 jumpers are disabled , the FSB defaults to 200MHz minimum and 320MHz maximum. Since the board is positioned as high performance and overclocking-friendly, we gave it a go with the stock jumper settings.

We started by increasing the bus speed in one fell swoop to 199 MHz, since it's a relatively modest increase. The 13X multiplier of the Core Duo T2600 put the CPU clock to 2,589 MHz, an increase of 430 MHz. All other setting were left the same. The board was stable running CPUBurn for about 15 minutes, but as soon as RTHDRIBL was added, the system crashed and restarted.

The problem seemed to be a minor droop in the CPU voltage under full load in the overclocked state. The 12V feed from the PSU to the system was 13.2V at idle, and it dropped to about 12.9V under full load. This is definitely on the high side, substantially over the +5% tolerance generally allowed for the 12V line (which means a high of 12.6V). Still, the high input voltage seemed to cause no problem for the motherboard. The CPU Vcore was reported by CPU-Z as 1.26V when the CPUBurn was first turned on. After RTHDRIBL was also turned on, the Vcore sagged to ~1.22V, at which point the system crashed. So using the BIOS controls, the Vcore setting was raised in incremental steps until the system remained stable running both CPUBurn(x2) and RTHDRIBL together for at least half an hour. This was achieved with a Vcore setting of 1.28V, which saw sags under load of 1.25V. Unfortunately, as soon as the Vcore was set manually, the dynamic voltage adjustment of EIST appeared to stop working, and the very low power draw of the CPU at idle was lost.

D: TEST SYSTEM OC'd 16.6%
STATE
CPU Clock
CPU Vcore
2x12V Power
AC Power
Idle
996 MHz
1.288V
8.7W
74.3W
CPUBurn
2589 MHz
1.253V
34.7W
103.2W
CPUBurn + RTHDRIBL
2589 MHz
1.253V
34.7W
125.3W

CPU power draw increased as did overall system power demand, as expected, and temperatures went up a fair amount, but still remained within safe limits. With no changes in fan speed, the noise remained unchanged.

E: OC'd THERMALS
STATE
CPU
Board
Idle
24°C
44°C
CPUBurn
56°C
51°C

There seems little doubt that the board and the CPU can be overclocked to higher speeds, but we had little interest in exploring this capability any further. A more enthusiastic OC site already addressed the issue anyway: AnandTech's review gushed that...

"...the overclocking aspect of this board and the Intel Core Duo required so little effort to reach 50%+ overclock levels that we are still surprised by how easy it was. The stability of the board was superb in our benchmark, gaming sessions, and general application testing whether the board was at stock or overclocked settings. The AOpen i975Xa-YDG is certainly the most stable board we have tested in recent memory..."

The above Anandtech review also lauds the Core Duo's gaming performance, an opinion strongly supported by X-bit Labs, who stated in their Core Duo Overclocking article that...

"The performance of the overclocked Core Duo processor working at 3.0GHz is admirable. It is outpaces top dual-core processors from AMD and Intel, such as Athlon 64 FX-60 and Pentium Extreme Edition 965. And the performance advantage is more than tremendous in most tasks."



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