mATX Motherboard Overclocking
The Z87 GRYPHON isn’t marketed as an overclocking motherboard– that’s what ASUS’ Republic of Gamers line is all about. If you were still unsure, the lack of the Turbo V Evo utility for Windows should be enough to convince you.
Still, at the BIOS level, this motherboard has most of the manual adjustment features you’d find in a Republic of Gamers board. While Turbo V Evo isn’t here, there is a simpler auto overclocking feature n the A.I. Tweaker section of the BIOS called OC Tuner. You can set it to “As Is” (the default), “Ratio First”, or “BCLK First”. I set it to “Ratio First” and let it run. According to the explanation in the BIOS, OC Tuner “Automatically overclocks the CPU and DRAM frequency and voltage for an enhanced (sic) system performance.” Turning it loose in my Core i7-4770K-equipped system set the ratio to 42x (for 4.2GHz) and bumped the CPU core voltage to 1.2v. It also selected the XMP profile on my memory. Interestingly, these are almost exactly the same settings the “Gear 2″ OC Genie setting made on the MSI MPOWER MAX motherboard I reviewed recently.
Now, my definition of “stable overclock” is “one that can complete my benchmark suite”. I’ve discovered that overclocks that easily pass various synthetic stress tests like AIDIA64’s System Stability Test will nonetheless crash under some benchmarks. Right now, my favorite “overclock killer” test is x264HD 5.0, so these overclocks represent the highest frequency I could set and still complete a run through this benchmark. For what it’s worth, this board was stable at 4.6GHz under AIDA64’s stress test.
My manual overclock was a multiplier of 44x at the same 1.2v. This is 100MHz lower than I was able to achieve on the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard, which I ran at a multiplier of 45x. As with the MSI board, attempting to add a few MHz by bumping the BCLK a megahertz or two (recall that the BCLK is multiplied by the multiplier, so at these settings taking the BCLK from 100MHz to 101MHz would increase CPU clock speed by 44MHz) resulted in crashes.
It’s not surprising that a motherboard specifically designed to support overclocking would result in a better overclock than one that wasn’t, but the 100MHz difference is less than 3%, so the real-world performance implications aren’t going to be noticeable.
Many people don’t seem to realize that Intel’s quoted maximum boost multiplier of 39x for the 4770K only applies to one core under load– load down all four cores, and you’re looking a only 37x (3.7GHz). Yeah, that’s conservative, and many motherboards (including this one) offer “Turbo Enhancement” features that run all four cores at the maximum multiplier under load. That’s the way I like to run, but since Haswell seems to suffer from the same heat-related overclocking limits as Ivy Bridge, you’ll need a really good cooler to be able to sustain a high multiplier under load for any amount of time. Haswell runs very hot under load, 22nm low-leakage transistors notwithstanding. The best I was able to do was 4.4GHz on all cores at 1.2v.
I’ll give my final thoughts and conclusion on this motherboard in the next section.