CPU: Intel i5-3770K
Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H1
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master TPC 812
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V Pro
RAM: 2x4GB Patriot Viper Xtreme II 1600MHz DDR3
OS HDD: Patriot Pyro 60GB SSD
Secondary HDD: Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
As we've mentioned, ASUS doesn't want to shackle you to either BIOS or OS-only features. If you can do it in the BIOS, ASUS has done their best to make it available in a friendly OS setup. Overclocking from the OS is great, because it doesn't require a restart, so it cuts alot of the boot time out of setting clocks and then stability testing. Clock settings, advanced power settings, and anything else you could access from the BIOS is neatly laid out in the TurboV EVO component of AI Suite II. Automatic overclocking is also contained in the program, which we'll detail below.
Automatic Overclocking and TPU
ASUS has put alot of effort into making overclocking easy. Not only do they have the typical implementations in the BIOS, they also have several options for 1-click settings as well as a dedicated TPU switch. TPU settings, like the software-based EPU, work with the DIGI+ VRM to enable full real-time control and adjustment of CPU, VRM, iGPU and DRAM. The "Auto tuning" in the BIOS, the TPU switch on the PCB, and the "Fast" setting in TurboV Evo all lead to approximately the same clock, which rang in right around 4.2GHz, a nice boost! The 4.2GHz overclock reported a core voltage of 1.12V under load using AIDA64 Extreme. This voltage was actually not very inflated, as we weren't able to go much lower before we noticed instability, to just under 1.1V. Load temperatures were still at a relatively meager 52°C at 4.2GHz, which isn't too bad for an automatic overclock.
The "Extreme" setting boosted the clock speeds to 4.5GHz at 1.336V, which is a bit more aggressive than the 1.12V for the 4.2GHz clock. Temps started getting up near 70°C, with spikes at nearly 80°C using a Cooler Master TPC 812, and this is about as high as we feel having a processor for a 24/7 OC. We've noticed alot more sporadic temperature behavior with the Ivy Bridge chip than Sandy Bridge, likely due to the less-expensive TIM. This causes momentary stability issues which can really put a damper on the top-end OC potential. The TurboV EVO overclocking utility worked perfectly, and compared to most auto-overclocking utilities, is fairly aggressive in maintaining lower voltrages. This owes to the built-in stability testing, preventing the program from having to apply a generic voltage it hopes will work with all chips, which then usually has to be much higher so that even the worst chips will perform stably. As far as beginner-friendly implementations go, TurboV EVO sets a pretty high bar, and its great to see even the Extreme setting push right to where we are comfortable with for a top-end 24/7 OC. We'd also expect it to do the same for the nearly-infinite range of setups due to the dynamic stability testing making it so the software can adapt to your setup.
The auto-tuning did great, even on the Extreme setting, when compared to manual setting. With a manual overclock, we were only able to wiggle the voltage down about 0.006V, to right around 1.33V, which realized a degree or two advantage. The base clocks usually weren't modified much, and most of the tuning was done by modifying the multiplier. Base clocks of 101.0 to 102.0 weren't bad either, but instability was quickly realized at base clocks higher than that. The great part about the auto OC functions as well, is that it will iterate and hunt out some good settings from which to start a deeper dive into OC tweaking. That saves time, and time is money.
ASUS boasts great RAM OC headroom, and we were able to achieve a 2033MHz clock on our kit of Patriot Viper Xtreme 1600MHz memory, while only having to drop the timings to CAS10, which is the easiest time we've had getting our kit to that level.