Overclocking—the process of pushing your computer components harder and faster than the manufacturer designed them to go—took center stage during the OC Main Event at this week’s Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Among the biggest news to emerge from the event was the unveiling of the ASUS X79-Deluxe motherboard built specifically for the latest Intel Core i7 processors.
The x79-Deluxe was built from the ground-up for extreme overclocking and allows dynamic-random-access memory (DRAM) chips to likewise be overclocked. DRAM overclocking boosts the speed of up to eight dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs) affording a 30 percent performance improvement over previous ASUS X79 motherboards.
Overclocking allows a processor to temporarily run at a pace that would ordinarily build up too much heat–depending on internal temperature sensors to monitor the processor and tell it when to slow the clock speed back down before it overheats. Gamers are particularly fond of overclocking since it gives them an instantaneous speed boost when they need it, then automatically backs off on speed to allow the processor to cool during gaming lulls.
Intel’s Core i7 processors simplify overclocking for users by allowing them to specify the amount of overclocking, as well as other related settings that tune the processor’s performance for particular applications.
The 4th generation Core i7, which is based on the leading edge 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge E, is available with up to eight cores for parallel processing using Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology.
Keep It Cool
By adding a liquid cooling kit from vendors like Corsair, the overclocking period can be extended further. At the OC Main Event, which was sponsored by Corsair, Asus and Intel, some overclockers used liquid nitrogen to keep their processors cool, despite the fact that their normal 3.x-GHz clock speed was boosted to over 5.x-GHz.
The x79-Deluxe does not need liquid cooling, by virtue of its on-board “intelligent” processors which perform four-way optimization of not just speed, but power supply voltage, energy consumption and air-cooling parameters.
Asus supplies its own overclocking tools that dynamically adjust its TurboV processing unit (TPU), its energy processing unit (EPU), its “Digi+” power controller and its “Xpert 2″ cooing-fan system which can be adjusted for maximum performance, minimum noise or anywhere in between. Together Asus’ four-way optimization technology allows a 3.4-GHz processor speed to be safely boosted to as much as 4.8-GHz without resorting to liquid cooling.
Intel also offers overclocking tools for both its 4th generation Core i7 and Core i5 processors regardless of motherboard. The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) allows users to set an overclocking multiplier as well as adjust power, voltage, memory and other key settings. And to manage overclocking of DRAM memory, Intel offers its Extreme Memory Profiler (XMP) tool.
The Asus X79-Deluxe comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and Ethernet 802.11n wireless connectivity, plus can be upgraded to the latest 802.11ac wireless protocol that boosts WiFi speed by three times to 867-Mbits per second. It also supports eight 6-Gbit per second SATA hard disk drives (HDDs), which can be supplemented by solid-state disks (SSDs) that can be accessed more quickly by virtue of housing flash memory. Using ASUS’ SSD Caching II technology, data can be cached across multiple solid-state disks (SSDs) to provide not only a speed boost during storage access, but also preventing data losses by keeping multiple copies of frequently accessed data on both HDDs and SDDs.