Overclocking the Z97-DELUXE
One potential problem for new owners is the sheer number of overclocking mechanisms ASUS provides. I count no fewer than six different ways to overclock (and I may have missed one):
- Switches on the motherboard
- EZ Tuning Wizard in the BIOS
- Auto tuning in the BIOS
- Manual tuning in the BIOS
- Auto tuning using AI Suite 3
- Manual tuning using AI Suite 3
Which should you select? It’s not an obvious choice, especially if you’re not an experienced overclocker. Heck, it’s not an obvious choice to me and I am an experienced overclocker! Basically, these six methods fall into one of three categories:
- Apply a fixed, pre-defined overclock: motherboard switches, EZ Tuning Wizard in the BIOS
- “Tune” an overclock by changing settings, running a stress test, and looping until the system crashes: Auto tuning in the BIOS or AI Suite 3
- Completely manual operation
If you’re a novice, first consider the switches on the motherboard. The Z97-DELUXE introduces a new switch that you should always set to On: Setting the EZ XMP switch to “On” will tell the system to automatically use the XMP profile in your memory DIMMs (if they have one). This is the Intel-defined Extreme Memory Profile that the memory vendor guarantees the memory will run at, typically with faster clock speed and tighter timings than the defaults. Since your memory’s guaranteed to work with its built-in XMP profile, there’s no reason not to leave this switch on permanently– if your memory has no XMP profile, there’s no effect. Next on the motherboard is the TPU switch, which gained a second position in ASUS’ previous-generation Z87 motherboards. Setting this switch to position 1 will apply a fixed, rather conservative, overclock to the CPU using multiplier adjustment. Setting it to position II will apply both BCLK/strap and multiplier adjustments. If you’re not looking to get the ultimate performance from your rig, the motherboard switches might be as far as you want to go. Really, everybody should use them, because free performance. But if you’re an enthusiast who really wants to see what your particular slice of Haswell goodness can really do, not just what ASUS is sure will work with all 4700K processors, you can take it a little further. I’m going to use the automated tuning feature built into the latest version of ASUS’ AI Suite Windows utility, and compare its results with the best I can do manually– which I already know from much previous testing! Here are the specs for the test system: CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K (Haswell) Memory: Kingston HyperX DDR3, 2x4GB, 2133mHz, 11-12-11-30 Cooler: Thermaltake Silver Arrow Video: NVIDIA GTX580 reference card Here are the settings that change with various overclocking techniques: I checked at stock (using the motherboard defaults), with the TPU switch set to position 1 and position 2; after an AI Suite 3 auto-tune, and my manual tune. In all cases the memory was running at its XMP spec as shown above.
|Strap||Power Phase||Load Line Calibration||1 core||2 cores||3 cores||4 cores||CPU Voltage||Highest Clock|
|TPU 1||100Mhz||Extreme||Level 8||43x||43x||42x||41x||1.30v||4300mHz|
|TPU 2||125Mhz||Extreme||Level 8||34x||34x||34x||34x||1.17v||4250mHz|
|Auto Tune||100Mhz||Extreme||Level 8||44x||44x||43x||43x||1.31v||4400mHz|
|Manual Tune||100Mhz||Extreme||Level 8||45x||45x||45x||45x||1.35v||4500mHz|
Now, what’s interesting here is that the settings for stock, TPU 1 and 2, and the settings reached by AI Suite’s “auto tune” feature are all identical to the settings I found when I tested the ASUS Z87 Deluxe Dual motherboard last year. That implies that ASUS has taken their various tuning and tweaking technologies about as far as they can go…for now.
This pre-release version of AI Suite 3 had its problems, though. Although the 5-Way Optimization process worked perfectly, AI Suite 3 showed incorrect values for the strap, multiplier, and final CPU speed, as well as always informing me that I had increased performance by “000%”.
Let’s see how the various settings perform in the next section.