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ASUS SABERTOOTH Z87 Intel Motherboard Review

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ASUS TUF Motherboard Overclocking

The SABERTOOTH Z87 isn’t marketed as an overclocking motherboard– if you’re really interested in overclocking, you should look at ASUS’ Republic of Gamers line.

Although it lacks dual EPS power connectors and Turbo V Evo, the BIOS of this motherboard has most of the manual adjustment features you’d find in a Republic of Gamers board. A simple auto overclocking feature is built into the BIOS in the A.I. Tweaker section, called OC Tuner. You can set it to try overclocking with “Ratio First” or “BCLK First”. I selected “Ratio First” and started the process. After a couple of reboots, the board settled in at 1.2 volts for the CPU, with multipliers of 43x for one or two loaded cores, 42x for three loaded cores, and 41x for four loaded cores.

Every reviewer has a different idea of what they want from an overclock, and how they define “stable”. Some prefer to go with the highest overclock on a single loaded core; some like the Intel strategy of ratcheting down the multiplier as more cores are loaded. I prefer the highest overclock I can run on all loaded cores, which in this case was 45x. This is one bin higher than I was able to achieve with the mATX-sized Gryphon, also a TUF-series motherboard.

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 4.5GHz overclock on all cores required 1.3v to the CPU to make it through an x264HD 5.0 run. This is exactly the same multiplier and voltage I was able to hit when overclocking a previous Z87 motherboard that’s specifically designed to be a good overclocker. I suspect with Haswell’s integrated voltage regulation, we’ll see less of a difference between motherboard overclocking abilities than we have with previous generation CPUs.

 sabertooth_oc3.jpg

This means that the performance differences between motherboards, which are already small, will be even smaller. Of course, it’s possible that larger differences in performance will be visible under extreme overclocking with bespoke liquid cooling systems, or acetone/dry ice or LN2 cooling.

I’ll give my final thoughts and conclusion on this motherboard in the next section.


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1 comment

  1. CrazyElf

    Supposedly, this board is marketed towards the “long term” upgrade market, that is, people who upgrade every 4-5 years, so the emphasis is put on durability.

    I mean, what I like about this board is the backplate. That said, the Maximus VI Formula might have all of the features on this board and is expected to be in the ~$300 USD range, plus it comes with more OC power, and better components, so it’s probably a better buy.

    Actually on that note, is there anyone that knows when the Maximus VI Formula is to arrive here in North America?

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