** Retail BIOS Update appended below on 9th August 2006 **
When we got our first glimpse of the Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6, our expectations of the board was very high due to the amount of work Gigabyte seems to have engineered onto the board to make it as stable a platform as possible. If anything, its elaborate heat-pipe system, the unheard of 12-phase VRM and full solid capacitor usage screams out overclocking with a capital 'O'. The board also features a set of very comprehensive BIOS options. However, our own experiences with the GA-965P-DQ6 wasn't as encouraging. If you haven't done so yet, you can read our full review of the board here before continuing.
In our previous overclocking attempt, the board only managed a lackluster 288MHz base FSB and only when we pushed the MCH voltages up by 0.35V. Granted that we were running an early sample with a beta BIOS, we still expected the board to reach the 300MHz mark at the very least. We've been in constant contact with Gigabyte and they've assured us that they're refining the board. At the time of writing the review, Gigabyte has informed us of their testing with an updated internal BIOS revision that gives quite a boost to overclockability without sacrificing general performance. However, the particular BIOS did not reach our labs in time for us to test it out ourselves.
So it just happens that we've managed to obtain the said BIOS (beta revision 'D25', dated 23rd June) and promptly flashed our GA-965P-DQ6 for part deux of overclocking.
This time, we found the board to scale much better at stock voltages, hitting a high 330MHz base FSB without any tweaking at all. This already puts the board at a 1.32GHz PSB. By pumping in an extra 0.5V to the MCH, we were able to attain a stable 360MHz overclock, which breaks the 1.4GHz PSB barrier as well. Our definition of stability is running the board through a full suite of tests to ensure objective overclocking. Thus, this 360MHz FSB overclock is certainly within reach of many as long you have the right components to pull it off.
This is still substantially less than the 400+MHz that Gigabyte has claimed in their internal tests, but then you should take into account of different hardware setup and configurations. Our tests are always done using stock coolers and options of the board in order to determine its capabilities out of the box. Enthusiasts with extreme cooling may very well reach much higher scores as the board probably has more to give. We would have loved to share some results but due the thorny NDA agreements surrounding the Core 2 processors, we can't reveal much more than the CPU-Z screenshot at the moment:-
At the end of the day, the 'D25' BIOS shows a steady improvement over its previous BIOS incarnations and shows that Gigabyte is actively fine tuning the board to fit its enthusiast status. Remember, the 'D25' revision is still an internal beta, but it has gotten us excited about the GA-965P-DQ6 all over again. For the would-be end-users of this talented board, Gigabyte has assured consumers that they would be incorporating these enhancements into the next public BIOS release, so that you too can enjoy the overclocking goodness.
**Updated on 9th August 2006 **
Retail Board and Retail BIOS - An Overclocking Hit
Our earlier overclocking attempts were based on an early sample board, but we've since gotten hold of the retail Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 motherboard and loaded it with the latest available retail BIOS, which is version F2. Armed with a full-fledged retail model, we set out overclocking once more with another Core 2 Duo processor for our recent article titled "Core 2 Duo E6300: Small Budget, Big Overclocker " and we finally struck gold as we hit a rock stable FSB of 480MHz! Clearly, Gigabyte has been busy tweaking their boards and the retail version is doing a good job. This places it among the highest motherboard overclocks we've seen in our years of testing. However, it's still too early to determine the best overclocker yet as we've had as good of an outcome from Gigabyte's own lower end GA-965P-DS3 board in we're still exploring it at the time of updating this article. But that's for another article. For performance results of the GA-965P-DQ6 board at 480MHz FSB, check out the above mentioned link for the full details, but here's a CPU-Z screenshot to tease you:-