Must-have features for overclockers

superstition

Platinum Member
Feb 2, 2008
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Let's make a list of some features that are not on every board/CPU/platform, etc. — but should be.

(Let's get the obvious ones out of the way: Good VRMs/MOSFETs/socket temps/copper level/PCB thickness/BIOS quality)

1) Windows/Linux software that lets someone boot to BIOS. I've used the ASUS utility that came with the Crosshair V Formula Z but I doubt it works with every brand's boards or all tiers of ASUS boards.

2) Automatic recovery from bad RAM settings. In my experience, RAM tuning is the most annoying part of overclocking because it tends to require CMOS reset. With the UD3P 2.0 board I particularly noticed this happens if the voltage is set to below 1.6 or so.

I'd like to see any setting that prevents booting cause an automatic reboot rather than a cold freeze that requires CMOS reset.

3) Battery life sensor for the CMOS battery. Instability can be caused by a dying battery and it's hard to figure out. This isn't a must-have feature but it certainly would be a nice perk.

4) PWM fan control that is true PWM not voltage in disguise.

5) Water pump fan header.

6) Push button to reset CMOS.

7) The ability to set a delay to slow the boot process so you don't have the OS skip past the ability to get into BIOS. Frantically having to press the delete key before your monitor gets the signal and things like that are really annoying. The boot-to-BIOS software is a huge help with this but there should still be a setting you can use when tuning your overclock to give you more time to hit delete after the logo screen has appeared during boot.

8) A boot loader that comes built into the BIOS that lets you easily pick between operating systems and disks at boot — not requiring you to switch priority in the BIOS settings and save them. Why isn't there a simple graphical bootloader so one can juggle multiple disks and operating systems. For goodness' sake, the 1983 Apple Lisa had this! All motherboards should have this. They should automatically present you with a list of operating systems to choose from, making it clear which disk they're on, too. (This feature could be turned off in BIOS for those with a single system or who don't want to click anything.)

9) Additional power connector for the CPU. The Crosshair has this but my UD3P board doesn't.

10) A feature that does RAM tuning in BIOS, right before your eyes. Basically, it does the same thing as turning off Fast Boot does when the machine is booted. This feature might require that a tiny amount of RAM be on the board just for the BIOS, though. But, why not? That would make recovering from bad RAM settings easier anyway.

I don't like the mystical tuning that apparently can happen when Fast Boot is turned off. It's important when tuning RAM to know exactly what all the settings will be but there are too many to try to manually deal with all of them. But, if a person could see these settings being conjured up then one could write them down and even, gasp, lock them in so that the machine is consistent each time it's booted.

11) Built-in Memtest and Prime, in the BIOS. Memtest would be able to load all the cores. Both would have safe temps protection and warning beeps. Both would also halt upon errors. People should not have to be in Windows to do basic stress testing. A GPU loader would also be nice to have, one that can work in conjunction with Prime on the CPU.

12) LLC should be less mystical in how it's presented.

13) PCI-e speed should be locked. People should not be able to mess with it.

14) There should be a very basic, but effective, group of benchmarks built into BIOS for verifying the performance of one's settings.

15) BIOS should be able to be easily navigated via keyboard, instead of needing a mouse.

16) There should be the ability to turn off all superfluous graphics from the BIOS, including background pictures.

17) Settings should always stick. If they aren't workable the BIOS shouldn't pretend that they are and surprise you later. I've set multipliers to certain numbers, only to find that the BIOS changed them — usually related to turbo. BIOS should be intelligent enough to block faulty settings from being inputted. Obviously, that doesn't mean it will know if the settings are stable. But, if the settings just are unworkable they should be blocked/reverted immediately.

18) BIOS should possibly log error codes so a person can go back and view them. They could also be downloadable within the operating system.

19) Solder, (possibly as well as one limited edition SKU that uses polymer TIM for the liquid nitrogen and other extreme folks).

20) VRM temp sensor. I'm amazed that the premium Formula Z board doesn't have one but my cheap Gigabyte does.

Anyway... this is what I've thought of so far.
 
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RichUK

Lifer
Feb 14, 2005
10,320
672
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10Ghz

In all seriousness - active VRM cooling.
 
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superstition

Platinum Member
Feb 2, 2008
2,219
218
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10Ghz

In all seriousness - active VRM cooling.
That reminds me.

21) Hybrid VRM cooler for all high-end "enthusiast" boards. For those with water loops it's great to be able to hook up the loop without having to resort to dealing with hard-to-find and overpriced motherboard blocks.

22) Case (cable tie mounts) and board design (spacing/shaping) to make it easier to have high-quality active cooling on the VRM sink, not silly 40mm fans and such.
 

kraatus77

Senior member
Aug 26, 2015
266
59
101
honestly

just a rock solid board with enough vrm capabilities to provide 50% more power than highest rated tdp cpu it supports. obviously cpu/ram oc.

minimum 4 fan headers with fan curves in bios.

and simple design without too much pop peasant culture.

other stata/usb3 ports ofc.
 

Dave2150

Senior member
Jan 20, 2015
638
178
116
10Ghz

In all seriousness - active VRM cooling.
Good quality Z170/Z270 boards have plenty of heatsinks for the VRMS both on top of the board and underneath. The cheaper ones are obviously lacking, though this can all be researched before purchasing a particular board. Also worth purchasing a board with more VRM phases if you want to push clocks to the max etc.
 

RichUK

Lifer
Feb 14, 2005
10,320
672
126
Good quality Z170/Z270 boards have plenty of heatsinks for the VRMS both on top of the board and underneath. The cheaper ones are obviously lacking, though this can all be researched before purchasing a particular board. Also worth purchasing a board with more VRM phases if you want to push clocks to the max etc.
That's good to hear, obviously I can only go by my board which is bottom of the range. The problem is more when running an AIO as you don't have direct airflow over the VRM heatsinks - I found the VRMs kept throttling / overheating when I switched from an air/tower to AIO on my pro4s.
 

superstition

Platinum Member
Feb 2, 2008
2,219
218
101
Good quality Z170/Z270 boards have plenty of heatsinks for the VRMS both on top of the board and underneath. The cheaper ones are obviously lacking, though this can all be researched before purchasing a particular board. Also worth purchasing a board with more VRM phases if you want to push clocks to the max etc.
More phases doesn't always mean better. The first-gen 990FX Sabertooth has a doubled 4 (8+2) and beat an MSI with 10 phases or something in reviews for overclocking. The MSI is probably doubled, too, but it has more phases as a result.

There can also be weak links. I have a 10 or 12 phase Gigabyte board with my Lynnfield but it has the Foxconn socket that's known to melt (unlike the Lotes in some of them). Also, my UD3P 2.0 board is a doubled 4 like the ASUS Sabertooth but not nearly as robust, particularly in terms of VRM cooling.

The other thing is that, at higher clocks, FX 8 cores dissipate a lot of watts through the VRMs, thus requiring significant active cooling:
The Stilt said:
...if you are running a FX-8K series CPU at 4.7GHz+ the VRM alone is dissipating 40W+.
Some of that power will be dissipated by the CPU cooler.
 

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