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ASUS Secretly Overclocking Motherboards?

CowboyNeal posted about 9 years ago | from the not-so-secret-anymore dept.

Hardware Hacking 229

Hubert writes "It seems that the motherboard manufacturing industry is getting a little bit too competitive now that ASUS and many other manufacturers are secretly tweaking and overclocking the motherboard in default BIOS settings." A front side bus that's a mere 2 MHz faster may not seem like much of a tweak, but it's just enough to gain an edge over the competition.

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hmmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361391)

oooo la la

As long as it's stable (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361392)

Who cares?

Re:As long as it's stable (1)

Nikademus (631739) | about 9 years ago | (#13361610)

I second that.. Asus has been doing this for years now and they are perfectly stable for servers or prod. And honestly 1 more percent in the benchmarks won't reflect anything as it may also just be your windows install that has some more lifetime or so.

Best...Moderation...Yet.... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 years ago | (#13361620)

Yeah, it's early in the morning out here, but even after two cups of coffee, I'm unable to figure out how a first post can get modded redundant. Help me out here.

Re:Best...Moderation...Yet.... (1)

Hott of the World (537284) | about 9 years ago | (#13361647)

Asking "Who cares?" when obviously someone cared enough to tell us about it, and post about it, and write up and article and a summary..

Well, it might not be redundant, but there's no moderation for "complete idiot", so there you go.

Re:Best...Moderation...Yet.... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 years ago | (#13361674)

Ah, thanks. I've always wanted more choices in moderation. Maybe if mods had 10 witty, snide and / or annoying choices, the quality of moderation on slashdot would improve.

So what? (1, Insightful)

ucahg (898110) | about 9 years ago | (#13361395)

Is this bad, unethical, or in any way illegal? What's the big deal? Why the slashdot story?

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | about 9 years ago | (#13361408)

On the surface, it seems "cool" or a "so what" situation. However, when you're relying on your PC to do real work rather than just trying to eke out a few more fps in a game, random crashes matter. And that's what these kinds of tweaks will cause. And it will be particularly annoying for people who don't know about the "secret tweaks" since they'll immediately suspect things like the memory or the processor before thinking that the motherboard settings are being quietly manipulated without their knowledge. So while this might be neat for my game box, I'd want to know about this "feature" so as not to include such a board on a production workstation or server. Cheers,

Re:So what? (1)

jordancapps (532809) | about 9 years ago | (#13361517)

Heh, I recently bough an ASUS A8N-SLI motherboard and not two days ago began to experience random crashes, after which I began to suspect my memory of causing. All the components in this box are less than a month old... I'll have to watch how this thing develops.

Re:So what? (1)

ScottyUK (824174) | about 9 years ago | (#13361603)

Make sure your chipset fan isn't failing. These fans are abolutely notorious on the A8N-SLi (Standard and Deluxe models). My own failed within 4 weeks. Make sure the nforce temperature (motherboard or system in Asusprobe) doesn't go above 50 or so degrees or you'll bork the chip. Contact asus and they'll send an improved fan for free. I can't comment on the "Premium" heatpipe solution but that doesn't look adequate either.

Re:So what? (1)

jordancapps (532809) | about 9 years ago | (#13361818)

Already replaced it on day one with a passive cooler from Zalman. Temps are fine.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

flithm (756019) | about 9 years ago | (#13361529)

2 MHz is not going to cause random crashes, The temperature varations in a normal household would be of more concern. And the interference from the 60Hz hum in a server room is likely to cause more problems.

And this would have nearly zero effect on your FPS in a game box. What this does is push the motherboard ever so slightly ahead in the benchmark wars, making it look like Asus is building top notch boards that just seem to keep edging out the competition some how.

I seriously hope you run some insane computer / OS like a realtime QNX or some other super hardcore / stable platform that they use to run nuclear reactors and medical devices with, because if you don't... you should be MUCH more worried about the random crashes coming from the combination of cheap hardware / bloated operating system than of the 2 MHz overclocked CPU or front side bus.

Has anyone put any thought into the idea that maybe they tested their configuration really well, and they found no problems what-so-ever. It's not like we're talking about ECS or some crap board manufacturer. ASUS generally makes quality stuff... if anyone should be overclocking by default, it's them!

Re:So what? (1)

no_pets (881013) | about 9 years ago | (#13361859)

You make some good points. I'd also like to point out that some people such as myself buy MBs that have a good rep with the overclocking croud even though I do not overclock. They seem to make for very solid PCs that have outlasted by far any mass marketed PC I've ever bought.

So, let the tweakers do the tweaking if they so desire. Otherwise leave them alone. BTW I usually buy ASUS boards.

Re:So what? (-1)

vchoy (134429) | about 9 years ago | (#13361415)

Is this bad, unethical, or in any way illegal? What's the big deal? Why the slashdot story?

Why?!?! Do you know who you are questioning Boooy??? Because CowboyNeal says it is a *BIG DEAL* that's why!

- Nothing to see, move along.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

meatflower (830472) | about 9 years ago | (#13361426)

Depending on how you look at it, this is a BIG deal. Here's the thing.
Most websites that review motherboards do it in batches, where they'll do like 10 new motherboards with whatever the new gotta have it feature is. Maybe its a new north bridge chipset, maybe its SATA (back when that was new), something like that.
The thing is though, they post multiple synthetic tests (e.g. 3DMark and PC Mark 2001) and all the results posted are the motherboards at "stock " speeds, they haven't modified them. YOU may modify them, and they will perform better, but they're trying to show you a level playing field of all the boards they're reviewing so you can compare. If one of those boards is actually overclocked (albeit 2 Mhz ain't much) and the others are at stock, it makes that board appear to have a HUGE advatange when its stock speed may not be as good as the others. So yeah...its a big deal.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#13361671)

If testing a ASUS mobo (at 202 MHZ FSB) showed it to have a HUGE advantage over the other mobos, then it would have a HUGE advantage at a stock 200 MHZ FSB as well. A 1% performance difference is noise, statistically insignificant. For practical purposes, boards that perform within 5% of each other are pretty much the same. You're going to get more performance differences in your system because of other factors, like the disk drive, graphics card, or memory you choose to use.

Big deal? No way is a 1% difference a big deal.

Re:So what? (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | about 9 years ago | (#13361796)

I don't know but maybe two sites that do that shit. I review them as they come in, not in batches. Few do them in batches. Anandtech and Tom's maybe. And anyone not checking for a correct clock speed should be doing something else. Huge advantage from 2MHz? You smoking something? Mod this one down. It is not insightful whatsoever.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | about 9 years ago | (#13361810)

The review sites plot results in a way that make very small differences in benchmarks look huge.

These sites review boards from different companies with the same chip sets. They are all going to come out almost the same! Between innumerate reviewers and innumerate readers, a lot of people come away thinking there is a real difference in the performance of these boards.

Re:So what? (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 9 years ago | (#13361443)

Aside from what's already been mentioned, running a processor on a board that's overclocked is almost sure to void the warranty. Not telling your customers this is really bad juju and would probably open Asus to litigation if anyone was ever burned (ha ha) by this.

Re:So what? (1)

micrometer2003 (715068) | about 9 years ago | (#13361521)

It is exposing the user/customer to increased risk. Yes, there is a monetary cost. I had an ASUS A7S333 that had no end of problems, especially with sound. I had to disable it and work deaf/dumb. Still, I got BSOD's. It was supposed to be a very high end machine but I finally replaced it with a very generic machine that did not crash and served me better (and faster w/o the reboots).

Re:So what? (5, Insightful)

mgoheen (244365) | about 9 years ago | (#13361578)

> Is this bad, unethical, or in any way illegal? What's the big deal? Why the slashdot story?

What are you, a CEO of some big company?

Why yes it's bad, unethical and likely illegal.

It is bad for various reasons, one of the biggest being that you have a market leader effectively performing unqualified tweaks on the timing of various system board components. I'm fairly certain that Asus isn't doing any chip qualification tests on the components they are overclocking.

It's unethical because they are doing that to receive an unfair advantage in the highly competitive (and extremely bogus) MB performance rankings. MBs differ in performance by extremely small amounts, so a 2MHz difference is plenty to differentiate one board from another (and again, I'm not saying that this has any noticable impact on the performance of your system, other than a 1% increase in some dumb benchmark).

It's likely illegal because when Asus says it has a 400MHz system bus they are not telling the truth. That would be false advertising (I mean heck, the number is written right on the MB boxes).

But the REAL point here that is MOST disturbing is that the poster doesn't think any of this is even worth posting. THAT'S what I find most appalling. Since when is lying to gain a competitive advantage OK? It is NEVER OK.

Sweet (5, Funny)

Bit_Squeezer (824571) | about 9 years ago | (#13361396)

Saves me the trouble

Liability? (1)

EiZei (848645) | about 9 years ago | (#13361397)

Wonder if someone decides to sue ASUS for lost productivity over potentially decreased stability and hardware durability?

why (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361401)

Why do they need to overclock exactly?

Quote of the day (5, Funny)

Recovering Hater (833107) | about 9 years ago | (#13361404)

Pair this story with the little quote of the day "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Coincidence?

Ever since the P4S8X (1)

hexed_2050 (841538) | about 9 years ago | (#13361405)

I've noticed this trend ever since the P4S8X which provided BIOSes to fix crashes, but came at a ~10% computer speed reduction when using convential benchmarks. The people who were not crashing were told not to upgrade from the forum communities, where the people who were crashing updated immediately for system stability. It was a mixed blessing as system stability came with a price tag of retarded computer speed performance.

Re:Ever since the P4S8X (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361428)

Is a SIS chipset, no wonder why they had to downclock the motherboard.

Get a nvidia chipset or intel chipset, period.

Even via's in certain plataforms suck.

SIS is plain crap.

Article? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361406)

Sorry. Is there an article linked? I saw some preamble and some advertising and some gratuitous web dross, but an article? I'm afraid I missed it.

Re:Article? (4, Informative)

HD Webdev (247266) | about 9 years ago | (#13361433)

Sorry. Is there an article linked? I saw some preamble and some advertising and some gratuitous web dross, but an article? I'm afraid I missed it.

It's a horribly designed web site. Here are the links:

http://www.rojakpot.com/default.aspx?location=3&va r1=249&var2=0 [rojakpot.com]
http://www.rojakpot.com/default.aspx?location=3&va r1=249&var2=1 [rojakpot.com]
http://www.rojakpot.com/default.aspx?location=3&va r1=249&var2=2 [rojakpot.com]

1996 called (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361469)

they've asked their frames-based websites back

Re:1996 called (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361479)

1980 called and they asked for their lame joke back.

Re:1996 called (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361497)

1964 called and they asked for their lame counter-replies back.

Re:1996 called (2, Funny)

HD Webdev (247266) | about 9 years ago | (#13361587)

1964 called and they asked for their lame counter-replies back.

1957 called and wants their genetic material back.

Re:1996 called (1)

deimtee (762122) | about 9 years ago | (#13361712)

2143 called and wants their time machine back.

Re:Article? (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 9 years ago | (#13361487)

Why do slashdot users constantly put so much confidence in these random sites? What the hell is "RojakPot" and what reason is there to believe there is truth in anything on their site?

They can't be all that popular in the first place, or they'd have a web server that's able to stand up to being slashdotted.

Re:Article? (3, Informative)

Viceice (462967) | about 9 years ago | (#13361783)

Well... 'Rojak' is a Malaysian* dish, consisting of but Prawn fritters, cut coconut fritters, cubed tofu, sliced cucumber, sliced chestnut, squid and an hardboiled egg, all covered in a thick nutty curry gravy.

As you can see, a Rojak is a messy mix of many ingredients hastily tossed together. Hence, the word Rojak is also used colloquially (in insult or in jest) to mean something that consists of an odd mix of many different things.

For instance, "James is of Rojak decent" is a crude way of saying James' ancestry is very diverse. Also, "That magazines layout is very rojak" means that the magazines layout is haphazard.

So 'RojakPot' would be a play of words to mean 'MeltingPot'

Oh and... Visit Malaysia :D

*Rojak, along with Satay, Roti Canai, Teh Tarik, etc are ALL Malaysian dishes, despite what the lying Singaporeans have been claiming.

Nothing to see... Move on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361407)

This is not new, they have been doing this for years. I can't believe this is considered news.

What's the definition of overclocking? (5, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 years ago | (#13361412)

Is it really overclocking if the manufacture does it? Isn't it just deciding the default settings? Components aren't made with a built in correct speed - there is a certain speed that going above means you've overclocked it. They decide the level of stability they want and set the components accordingly. All this means is that they've decided that stability is slightly less important in comparision to speed than they had decided previously. It's not overclocking.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (5, Informative)

EiZei (848645) | about 9 years ago | (#13361420)

Last time I checked the "default" FSB was decided by chipset and CPU makers, not by mainboard makers.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 years ago | (#13361431)

ASUS are a big manufacturer - I expect they're involved in the development process of the chipsets they use and haven't done this without the knowledge of the chipset manufacturers.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

LordNimon (85072) | about 9 years ago | (#13361595)

I used to work for a major OEM in the motherboard engineering department. ASUS may have told their suppliers what they're doing, but there's no reason to expect that it's with the suppliers' "permission" or anything like that. After all, ASUS is responsible for all problems. ASUS would never tell a customer to call Intel because of some PCI card that doesn't work, even if the motherboard weren't overclocked.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

Tango42 (662363) | about 9 years ago | (#13361421)

That should of course say "there ISN'T a certain speed"...

Incidentally, what does "preview" mean?

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (4, Informative)

Zo0ok (209803) | about 9 years ago | (#13361432)

All this means is that they've decided that stability is slightly less important in comparision to speed than they had decided previously. It's not overclocking.

They are running the bus faster than specified, so all PCI devices, the CPU and the memory will run faster than specified. These other compontents are typically from another vendor. This is overclocking, per definition, I'd say.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

anethema (99553) | about 9 years ago | (#13361632)

While I don't dissagree that it is overclocking...

Nothing but the cpu will be accelerated because for the last good many years, PCI and other bus's on motherboards have had a gated connection to the front side bus (FSB) which means they will run in spec despite overclocking.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 9 years ago | (#13361440)

When it says 200MHz in BIOS it should be running at 200MHZ!

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#13361502)

And when my car's speedometer says its running 65 MPH, it should be running at 65 MPH. (Many speedometers are grossly inaccurate.)

A 1% difference is negligible. No one should base their buying decision on such a small difference. The fact that the ASUS mobo changed the timing from what was specified did make a difference. Any substantial performance improvements that may have been observed in the testing were likely the result of changing the memory timing.

I think most mobo bios's these days normally automaically try to detect the best timings for the memory you've installed. If one bios decides the memory will work with faster timings, then it could well be that the motherboard is actually better, having a design where the signal delays between the cpu and memory are shorter than the other mobos.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (5, Informative)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | about 9 years ago | (#13361453)

But when I purchase this motheboard from newegg, designed as a package with all those components together, and it is advertised as an 800Mhz FSB, I certainly understand there is a certain margin of error. A 2Mhz deviation may fall within expected safe parameters, but this deviation also affect other components - i.e. from the article, the processor runs 33Mhz faster, and memory is running at roughly 3Mhz faster. Further, manually scaling the speed up on this mobo, the article states it consistently is 2Mhz above the supplied number. If I want those components to run faster/hotter, then let me be the one choosing to do so, or advertise your motherboard for what it is - an 802Mhz FSB. This just opens up a whole pandoras box, so least they could be honest - and let ABit come out with an 804Mhz FSB next.

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

ciroknight (601098) | about 9 years ago | (#13361669)

The biggest fall out of this is, of course, the PCI bus, which is (and always has been) pretty sensitive to bus speeds being right around 33MHz. I've had machines that wouldn't boot due to the PCI clock being at just over 36MHz, (as RAID cards tend to be PCI based ;) which, following your metric, is barely half over the "safe" parameters.

It does kinda matter, but I don't care. If it won't work, I'll just ship it back and buy a new board from another manufacturer who doesn't like to tinker just to win on some bullshit benchmarks performed by a bunch of websites.

Besides, do they offer any proof it's happening to the ones shipped to consumers, or is this just the demo ones they send to reviewers?

Re:What's the definition of overclocking? (1)

darksydefish (908956) | about 9 years ago | (#13361537)

Nice thought but not quite true, It IS overcloking becuase the chips that are made by other manufacturers including thoose on the boeard are run at the speed higher than they were designed to. However its other components such as your CPU that are also overclocked and at risk of damage (...not that i think 2mhz will do this).

Reference Clock (3, Insightful)

Zo0ok (209803) | about 9 years ago | (#13361414)

This may be a stupid question, but I wonder: what reference clock is used. It appears the values compared are obtained from simply reading the MHz-value in a Windows dialogue. What says 200MHz on one board is exactly the same as 200MHz on another board anyways? How accurate are the clock-cycle-generator on a MB? I can just tell that the clock of my PC is very inaccurate, compared to my waist-watch.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#13361458)

A waist watch FYI, the frequencies of the clocks on computer boards would typically be accurate to about .001% or better. A clock difference of 1%, such as that seen, would be huge.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

corngrower (738661) | about 9 years ago | (#13361547)

But then again, the clock source for the on-board real time clock, which was likely used to obtain the timings of the system clock, may not be that accurate. Grandparent is correct in questioning the accuracy of the clock reported in CPU-Z. I wouldn't think it would be off by as much as 1%, though. That would be about 14.4 minutes per day of error.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

Lebannen (626462) | about 9 years ago | (#13361463)

Interestingly, when the motherboard is *overclocked*, the 2% increase is continued. However, when it's *underclocked*, say to 199MHz instead of "200"Mhz, then the speed suddenly matches what it's supposed to.

So... doesn't sound like a reference clock is the problem to me!

Re:Reference Clock (2, Funny)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | about 9 years ago | (#13361495)

How do you underclock it to 199MHz?

You have a little drawer full of 199MHz crystals, or does your crystal oscillator have a knob on it?

Re:Reference Clock (1)

iamplasma (189832) | about 9 years ago | (#13361523)

Umm.. you just go into your BIOS settings and adjust it. Most computers you'll find around these days all have soft overclocking, where you can just set your FSB to a pretty much arbitrary value in BIOS, no replacing crystals or having to change jumpers.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

alienw (585907) | about 9 years ago | (#13361540)

First, the real-time clock in your PC has absolutely nothing to do with the clock generators. Second, it's a PLL clocked from a crystal, which should be _very_ accurate. An error of maybe a few kilohertz would be very significant, and 2MHz is a huge inaccuracy.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | about 9 years ago | (#13361782)

That's backwards. 2MHz is a small error, a few KHz would be a huge error. Mhz is faster cycles than KHz. Otherwise you are right, the chip timing is driven differently than the "wall time" clock on your PC.

Re:Reference Clock (1)

vidarlo (134906) | about 9 years ago | (#13361839)

This may be a stupid question, but I wonder: what reference clock is used. It appears the values compared are obtained from simply reading the MHz-value in a Windows dialogue. What says 200MHz on one board is exactly the same as 200MHz on another board anyways? How accurate are the clock-cycle-generator on a MB? I can just tell that the clock of my PC is very inaccurate, compared to my waist-watch.

You clearly have no knowledge of what you speak about. A crystal can give a very accurate clock. Also, it is no problem to check frequency (count how many pulses you see in one second). A computer depends on accurate timings, so the clock is likely to be very finely tuned. So my guess is the 2MHz is 2MHz. And while they can use a cheap clock source for the RTC; they can't use a cheap clock source for the cpu and NB and so on.

So those speeds is correct.

Warranty (5, Funny)

Takumi2501 (728347) | about 9 years ago | (#13361417)

Cool, now the warranty's been voided out of the box. :)

Re:Warranty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361719)

Cool, now the warranty's been voided out of the box. :)


We've secretly replaced the crystals on this Asus motherboard with our slightly more robust Folger's crystals. Let's see if they notice.

the reason it's a problem (3, Insightful)

digitalderbs (718388) | about 9 years ago | (#13361419)

Theoretically, the reason it's a problem is because it invalidates the benchmark.

Suppose another motherboard was actually faster than the ASUS, but decided to not overclock. If it had overclocked like ASUS, it would have outperformed the ASUS motherboard (hypothetically speaking).

I don't think the situation is bad now, but it could end up like video cards (Nvidia vs Ati and driver optimizations). The result is that benchmarking will no longer be useful because the comparison is between an apple and orange.

Re:the reason it's a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361609)

Good, then people will evaluate machines based on real world performance...

Does anyone really care that the drivers replace the shaders that came with your game with optimized ones? I can only see that as a good thing - the new ones look exactly like the original ones, they just run faster.

The same thing with ASUS - they have always made top-notch components - and as far as I'm concerned if this causes problems it causes problems for them as much as anyone. I am sure they tested it and found no issues with a 2MHz overclock.

Re:the reason it's a problem (1)

Olathe (628659) | about 9 years ago | (#13361625)

I'm not trying to troll, I'm just extremely tired of hearing this.

Differing applications are already apples and oranges, yet "one true benchmark" advocates are stupid enough to ignore that. When two things trade off in what applications they excel at, you can't say one is better overall than another without making assumptions about what is important. Expecting that an actual "overall rating" even exists is the height of stupidity, yet people persist in it.

Making hidden, but fad-of-the-day-fair assumptions, is deceptive and stupid. Presenting benchmarks for each individual application allows the reader to get the plain truth and to focus on what is important to him.

If a user isn't a techie who will overclock the slower motherboard to make the situation fair in your eyes, what good is skewing a benchmark toward that ? If nVidia's drivers make my favorite game faster, why hide that from me or denigrate nVidia for (inadvertently or not) helping me out ?

The evil corporations aren't preventing you from having the impossible benchmark, reality is !

Performance difference exaggerations (5, Insightful)

mickwd (196449) | about 9 years ago | (#13361424)

"A front side bus that's a mere 2Mhz faster may not seem like much of a tweak, but it's just enough to gain an edge over the competition."

People need to learn to read graphs. "Best" is too often judged on speed, to the exclusion of other important factors. And too often, performance graphs in magazines and articles are drawn to exaggerate the differences between the worst-performer and the best performer, when the actual performance difference may be 1% or 2%. In terms of PC performance, neglibible.

But a 2% performance improvement may make the difference between a component or system being labelled as "disappointing" and "out in front" by a lot of dumbed-down magazines and online articles.

If only people were better able to keep a sense or proportion, and view performance tests with a little more intelligence, manufacturers wouldn't be so tempted to pull silly stunts like this one.

Re:Performance difference exaggerations (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | about 9 years ago | (#13361531)

But a 2% performance improvement may make the difference between a component or system being labelled as "disappointing" and "out in front" by a lot of dumbed-down magazines and online articles.

...which is especially moronic if the 2% speed gain is accompanied by, say, a 10% reliability loss.

Unless one's in some race where second-place equals also-ran, most computer users would gladly give up a little performance to get a machine that never errs. (And that is the curve-behavior in the "overclocking" region, after all...)

Speed (1)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | about 9 years ago | (#13361425)

For those who don't bother to read TFA and complain that 2Mhz is not a big deal - "An increase of 2MHz may not sound like much, but it's reflected in both processor and memory clock speeds as well. For example, in our Pentium 4 630 testbed, that meant an increase in processor clock speed of about 33MHz as well as a boost in memory speed of about 3.3MHz."

Re:Speed (1)

zyridium (676524) | about 9 years ago | (#13361448)

And if we compared that to a 486.. we could say it made a significant difference. Work out that the percentage change in performance is pretty negligible, and that it is actually not far off from what happens in systems by accident anyway.

Re:Speed (2, Insightful)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | about 9 years ago | (#13361481)

Understood, but the facts in the article state that this seems like no accident (by the consistent adding of 2Mhz when scaling the speed), which is noteworthy. I am not a motherboard designer, so I admittedly don't understand what the acceptable threshholds of errors are in these sorts of scenarios, so at what point is the deviation acceptable? If ABit comes out with a motherboard that "accidently" is 4Mhz faster, and the processor then ends up running 66Mhz faster, is that then unacceptable, or still acceptable as a general standard? Does such a standard exist?

As far as I know... (0, Troll)

Yaa 101 (664725) | about 9 years ago | (#13361460)

As far as I know, ASUS always was overclocking friendly... What's the big deal here? they only use what they have carrieng on their boards for years...

Re:As far as I know... (1)

Jsutton1027w (757650) | about 9 years ago | (#13361543)

You're right that ASUS boards have been known to have the ability to overclock. But the point is, that they have never been set to overclock out of the box (you had to intentionally bump up the FSB). The board they show here overclocks whether you ask it to or not.

Re:As far as I know... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | about 9 years ago | (#13361700)

Ahhh... Still it's not news wordy in my opinion...

If it makes it unstable.... (1)

m50d (797211) | about 9 years ago | (#13361475)

then the product is not of merchantable quality and you can sue their ass off. If the system's still stable, then what's the problem?

Re:If it makes it unstable.... (1)

Insipid Trunculance (526362) | about 9 years ago | (#13361847)

then the product is not of merchantable quality and you can sue their ass off. If the system's still stable, then what's the problem?

I am not familiar with the American Legal system , but here in England there are substantial costs involved in a civil case(unless you go to a small claims court).Would it make sense to go to court over a few hundred quid?

Re:If it makes it unstable.... (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 9 years ago | (#13361922)

Yes youre absolutely right, and by the way what OS is the dominant right now again?

*snicker*

ABI AV8 (1)

fred9653 (703082) | about 9 years ago | (#13361477)

This isn't so new... My ABIT AV8 was out of the box overclocked with 204 Mhz FSB...

Re:ABI AV8 (1)

taskforce (866056) | about 9 years ago | (#13361519)

I concur... I have the same board.

This isn't giving anyone an edge on the competition, because people don't buy motherboards with reference to performance, becuase anyone buying their own mobo knows that boards aren't just "inherently faster" for no apparent reason. The changes to performance are so minute that reviews (who probably don't even measure performance differences between boards when looking at motherboards becuase they're so minute) wouldn't even pick up on them, and therefore potential customers probably aren't even aware of the performance differences, nevermind actually caring.

Features and other ways of increasing performance (such as overclocking) are more likely to tempt customers than (apparently unrealised) boosts to the FSB.

Meh (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | about 9 years ago | (#13361484)

I've seen this before. For a few years now various motherboards have been discovered to be not exactly on the mark with the FSB.

Hell, my own A8N-SLI Deluxe varies vetween 1995 and 2015 MHz while set to 200x10.

Geez (2, Informative)

skomes (868255) | about 9 years ago | (#13361485)

Who writes this stuff? This is very very old news. MSI began this stuff http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20030522/ [tomshardware.com]

Re:Geez (2, Interesting)

dorzak (142233) | about 9 years ago | (#13361514)

ASUS was doing this on their K6-2 Motherboards in 1999. P5A was overclocked out of the box.

doesnt this mean.. (0, Redundant)

Stanneh (775821) | about 9 years ago | (#13361492)

that my p4 warranty is void?

Waranty issues (1)

davmoo (63521) | about 9 years ago | (#13361493)

I have a feeling that Intel and a few other parts manufacturers are going to decree that this voids their warranty.

And the fact that this is done out of the box and without the user's knowledge, yes, its a bad thing.

Computer time (-1, Offtopic)

wk633 (442820) | about 9 years ago | (#13361496)

Is that why my Computer's time is 5-10min fast per day? I wouldn't think the computer time would be based on the same clock that runs the instruction cycle...

And does anyone know what I can change in the registry (XP Pro) to make it update via ntp more often?

Re:Computer time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361512)

The time isn't fast, you're just drunk [theregister.co.uk]

Re:Computer time (1)

Steven.Brady (544862) | about 9 years ago | (#13361722)

I don't think I've ever noticed a problem like that on our network, but the easiest way for a non-domain XP machine would be to run:
net time /set
as a scheduled task. You can set multiple schedules to set your time every four hours, every hour, every five minutes, whatever. FYI, the default NTP server for an XP machine is time.microsoft.com. Look at the help for net time to choose your favorite NTP servers.

Re:Computer time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361752)

Doesn't that cause the system time to occasionally jump backwards? Do you notice any program crashes correlated with the time updates?

Maybe it would be better to install a proper NTP client that adjusts the local system clock for the measured drift, and takes care never to step the clock backwards.

Abit do this too (0, Redundant)

darksydefish (908956) | about 9 years ago | (#13361516)

I have an Abit Motherboard and it was 202Mhz by default but claimed to be 200Mhz.

This isn't even news (2, Interesting)

Cylix (55374) | about 9 years ago | (#13361527)

I guess everyone missed out on the countless number of times Tom's Hardware has stated this.

I haven't read any recent articles, but I don't see why they would stop mentioning it.

It's not new, it's been this way for years and then they get that juicy 2% difference in performance.

It's presumably marketing led, but important? (5, Interesting)

panurge (573432) | about 9 years ago | (#13361548)

People saying "Hey this means the CPU is being overclocked 33MHz, that's a lot."

Er, no. It scales. It's still only 1% of the reference clock speed,assuming we have a 3GHz or above CPU, and any CPU manufacturer that tried to release CPUs that were exactly marginal on stability at the designated clock frequency would soon be out of business.

My own usual experience, back in hardware days, was that a lot of old boards were badly designed and had out of spec built in delays, but that the tolerances built in to the main components allowed them to keep going regardless. This was as true in the days when EPROM had a claimed access time of 450nS but the board only gave it 400 from address and chip select going stable, to this case where the deviation is quite small.

To be really tedious, I'm going to point out that the defined frequencies are not what really matters. What matters is the access time, the time between the input parameters going stable (i.e. address, chip selects etc. staying below the zero threshold or above the 1 threshold) and the actual point at which data is either read from or latched into a register. This is governed by four main factors - chip to chip variation, clock frequency, supply voltage at the chip, and die temperature, and that is as true for latches and registers as well as for memory and processors.

Therefore, if manufacturer A is confident that all the system delays on his motherboard are consistently within the maximum safe values by a determined amount, he may perfectly well be able to drive the clock speed a little higher than manufacturer B, whose process variations are greater or who has a less well designed board. The actual time available to the bought in components to write or read data may be greater than on manufacturer B's board, despite the higher clock speed.

Personally I do not go in for overclocking- I work for a company that now standardises on AMD64 boxes and, for our work, performance is no longer a real issue - but there is nothing in principle wrong with it. It's just like auto making, where some manufacturers release models using the same engine but slightly different torque curves and outputs, for whatever reason. They don't change the water pump and the gas pump just because one model is rated at 98BHP in one market and, because perhaps of slight variations in fuel quality, 100BHP in another market.

Bad testing methodology (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361557)

Some points critiquing this review:

* He's measuring using software. The error margin of software methods to measure this kind of thing dwarf 2% and head into the 6% range; typically more so with voltage measurement, which motherboards tend to measure about 0.1V lower than they really are; but for this kind of thing, we should demand testing with a correctly calibrated and maintained hardware frequency counter. I don't think CPU-Z qualifies to measure a change that small reliably.

* This is normal, and within expected tolerances; it's only running a bit high because the natural wandering of his motherboard's PLLs is a little high, and it's only 33MHz above because it's being rounded up when locked.

* Each individual motherboard will have a slightly different clock. Some vary WAY more than this. And only one motherboard of each model tested. That isn't statistically significant, particularly as this is an issue which will vary from individual motherboard to motherboard, as it relies on the tolerances of the clocks. He needs to take a lot more samples; over 100 really; and graph a bell curve from that.

* Also - only one control?

Furthermore, I think this reviewer simply doesn't understand the default settings of the motherboard. He's letting it select sensible defaults, then complaining they're not as sensible as he'd like. He's complaining that his particular motherboard is a little bit out on manual settings, but really if he's that concerned about such a small change, why isn't he testing using hardware?

I think the memory timings can be put down to ASUS's "AI". This is a motherboard feature... and it can be disabled. ASUS's concept "Normal" or "Slower" is a very small push, but if he wants to run truly at stock like a paranoid, use "Disabled", Manual timings on memory, and lock the PCI speed to 33MHz. That goes particularly for the PEG Link Mode. This is normal and expected behaviour for an ASUS (and everyone else).

However, the fractional overclock is actually well within what would be considered normal tolerance. 6% at worst, and that's only on the PCI bus if you didn't lock the PCI bus clock (but in fact it _does_ lock the PCI bus clock, he just didn't measure that bus).

If this caused any problems with system components, the components would not be binned at this level, as for example CPUs are required to pass all self tests at over 10% over a given bin speed to actually make the bin (to reduce returns and DOA); less than that and they will go into the lower bin, because there's a question mark about their ability to perform consistently at stock.

So yeah, his motherboard might be (according to software) running a trifle high; but only 1.1%-1.2% high. Woo, his motherboard's within normal tolerances. Whole lot o' nothing, from a guy who just wants blog traffic.

they've been doing this for a while (2, Insightful)

thegoogler (792786) | about 9 years ago | (#13361566)

i have an asus P4P-800e deluxe motherboard, and it runs stock at a 808mhz fsb, now thats a farely old mobo, 865pe chipset. from about 2002.

i always just thought it was just that the timing crystals/chips they were using were cheap and inaccurate, but i guess not. or maybe this is just the old "never attribute to malice what can be easily attributed to lazyness"

Ahha 2 Mhz.. U think u that's so bad??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361568)

I know EXACTLY what you mean first hand...
My Compaq 7900 Series motherboard has a 1X/2X AGP slot.

But guess what... The darn thing won't run in "AGP Mode"...
Not at 2X or 1X AGP. In both Linux and Windows, it crashes within about 30 seconds*.

*In Windows XP Pro I get a cute little blue screen that says something like... a hardware failure has occurred blah blah blah. Contact your hardware manufacturer. Then I can reboot it normally.
In Linux when its crashed, switching to other terminals doesn't work. The SysRq combos doesn't work either. Hell even the power button doesn't work. Have to unplug the computer from the back..

(Of course the SysRq combos and Power Button DO work properly when the computer isn't crashed. So yes I have it compiled into the kernel)

The nVidia driver gets "partially" around it by forcing it into AGP 1X Mode for increased stability if it detects the Irongate 751 chipset.. (Look it up in the driver documentation.. Its noted, Something about a Signal-Integrity problem blah blah blah)

But STILL it locks up rock-solid every few hours with corrupt crazy lines all over the screen (in Linux, blue screen in Windows).
Problem happens with both my old Radeon 7000 2X AGP and my new GeForce FX 5700LE 1X/2X/4X/8X (Universal) AGP..

What's worse is that I'm a poor college student and don't have the time or money to upgrade... Took classes during the summer and the fall semester starts the 29th.
I just gotta bare with it for another year..

btw... I got the motherboard and CPU for free from a friend... he was going to throw it out... Thought I could fix it... How stupid of me...

Guess what? Somehow I got some driver that forces the card into PCI even though the card is plugged into the AGP slot!! Woot! It works... At least I can watch a complete DVD now.. Of course in Linux it's even more easy... Just don't use AGPGART.

ASUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361591)

I have an ASUS board, the first month i had it i noticed that i would get random crashes, it was annoying but i did not really give it much thought. then after two months of use my computer would no longer turn on. is it possible that this built in overclock would cause this damage? I don't really overclock my systems, especially when they are new. I might overclock a system when it is nearing the end of its life to get a little more performance out of it before i upgrade.

Whats with the modding going on here...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13361631)

There are lots of people above me who makes this point and just got modded dowm, i will make it again(well more verbose).

An overclock (regardless of how little) voids the warrenties, not of the motherboard, but of the cpu or the memory.

I remember when we were about to hit 1Ghz mark, and a company(can't remember who) started selling overclocked(to 1ghz), refrigerator like cooled computer. When the CPU died on these units, intel and AMD did not support them, it was up to the company selling them modified to do so, which was fine, but thats not what is going to happen here.

Sure it may not be a big deal on your low end P4 2.8ghz(you might even bee happy about it) because it has room to spare(about 200mhz on average), but that not the problem, people who buy the better model "high quality" (the one that get the OC) boards from Asus are generally the same people willing to buy something like the P4EE 3.73Ghz or 1.5CL DDR400/433 RAM (and yes it does exist), in those cases the hardware is pretty maxed out as it is; thats where 2 or 4mhz can make the difference between running right and crashing. What if you were to damage one of those really pricey parts because those 2mhz put it over the top. do you think ASUS is going to pay for the replacements?
fat chance on a cold day in hell, that is why they are keep it secret, its a very large liability.

commence kool-aid drinking now..

____________________________________
Property of Sos Michael Oganessian

Re:Whats with the modding going on here...... (2, Interesting)

chr0n1c (908962) | about 9 years ago | (#13361708)

After all the years of building computers and overclocking, benching, reading reviews of other websites, etc. What more is there to say other than... Where have you been if _you_ didn't know this? I have seen this done by not just asus, but their competitors as well. I can recall may times where hardocp had clearly stated that one motherboard had a clock frequency advantage over otherboards. Now regardless of all that jazz, a mere 2 Mhz on the bus is not going to harm ANY processor currently on the market. The design quotas they must meet are very strict. And the same goes for the testing on quality brand motherboards, ram, what have you. Pimping and flashing their testing methods for their products is very important to these companies. They by no means make it up and jerk your chain. Besides, by going user defined on many of the bios options for memory can net you that 2mhz. This "situation" has been around for a long time, and IMO it's far too late and far too insignificant to have blown out of proportion now. Thanks :D

So viewed from a non-geek point of view... (1)

FunctionalMethod (751923) | about 9 years ago | (#13361702)

... ASUS changed some megahurtz in some part of the mama-board , and it is a bit faster without sacrificing stability , and with the same guaranty.

  The question is why should we care? It's their choice , their motherboard. If they choose to use quality materials that enable them to overclock by 2Mhz then let them do it.

  I wish they would overclock by 20Mhz and still offer the same stability and guaranty.

  I fail to see why this is bad.

Well, the answer seems obvious... (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | about 9 years ago | (#13361715)

Since it was apparently quite easy to find the overclocking, and it is probably difficult to hide it from plain sight -- perhaps the reviewers should be routinely verifying all the clock rates & timings before they run their benchmarks. Instead of simply saying that "Motherboard A performed better than Motherboard B at the default settings", they should be saying "Motherboard A performed better than Motherboard B" with all clock rates and RAM timings set to stock specifications." And if they cannot set the BIOS in a way to meet the stock specifications, then the motherboard is defective and that should be noted.

really old news (1)

ruiner5000 (241452) | about 9 years ago | (#13361735)

Few motherboards are set exactly to 200MHz, or whatever mhz they are to use for an exact clock. You simply set them to the correct one. Of course 1MHz off doesn't matter much in the grande scheme of things, but I've seen as high as 4MHz off before. New news this is not even close to being. They should have checked the MHz before they even started benchmarking. It has been widely reported for years, but then actual news I submit goes rejected. Adios the good old days of /.

I thought this was well-known (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | about 9 years ago | (#13361825)

I seem to remember articles as far back as 2000 discussing ASUS' penchant for minor OCing to improve performance. My old KT133-based Asus board, for example, ran a 135mhz FSB, and many a thread in support forums mentioned that this was common practice for performance reasons.

This was not a case of crystal timing being off, either; many, many people had similar settings and it was agreed that this was Asus "Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge" marketing system.

playing the game by their rules.. (1)

KingPunk (800195) | about 9 years ago | (#13361880)

yeah, sure a 2mhz FSB may "give asus the edge" ..but in all reality it should be a common pratice by more hardware vendors. anybody thats ever bought a cpu knows, generally they're "underclocked" by 1% or so. this 2mhz speed increas, just makes the playing feild even, and usually makes the cpu run at its rated advertised speed. no more no less.
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