The Art of Overclocking
Overclocking as always been an art form for the enthusiast to push one's hardware to beyond its official capabilities and limits. There are those who overclock to gain better performance from older hardware, and then there are those who go to the extremes just to see what their hardware can do, but the premise of overclocking is the same.
Hardware manufacturers have originally shunned overclocking, publicly distancing themselves from this community, but this has steadily changed in recent years. Overclocking is such a niche high performance market that the top selling point is no longer about who's the best stock performer, but who has more hidden potential. Products that can overclock better are seen as being of higher quality and are better valued by enthusiasts.
From less restrictive CPU multiplier locks, higher granularity motherboard controls and built-in overclocking software in product drivers/tools to factory-overclocked GPUs and memory, PC components have become more overclocking friendly. Some companies like memory manufacturer OCZ even extend their warranties to cover out-of-spec frequencies and voltages associated with overclocking their products. Of course, any overclocker will tell you, the most important piece to the overclocking puzzle is a stable platform and that is the PC motherboard. Chipset, build quality, voltage regulation, component compatibility, tolerance, BIOS options; all these features are crucial to a good overclocking motherboard. Now, last year gave us some great options and cult favorites like the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3, but ASUS has a new board that is supposed to claim the overclocking crown pushing an absurd 570+MHz FSB: the ASUS Commando.
We first saw a glimpse of the new ASUS Commando motherboard last month (December 2006) at the OCZ Summit in Taipei. OCZ was using an engineering sample of this board for their memory overclocking demonstrations. Naturally questions arose as to why they are using a pre-production board instead of stable retail boards that have been established as good overclocking platforms. The answer - ASUS has engineered the Commando to be The overclocking platform for the Intel LGA775 socket. This no doubt piqued our interest and as soon as ASUS readied the final version of the Commando, we secured ourselves a board for some first hand testing and to see if it can live up to ASUS' hype.
The third motherboard in their Republic Of Gamers (R.O.G.) series, the Commando is based on the Intel P965/ICH8R chipset combo, designed with several unique features and labeled as the tweaker's choice. Unlike other premium ASUS motherboards that are usually decked out with everything and the kitchen sink, the Commando is slightly leaner on features (but by no means bare). It has additional SATA 3.0Gbps ports courtesy of JMicron JMB363 (but no eSATA out-of-the-box), FireWire-400 support and dual Gigabit LAN. Being a R.O.G. motherboard, the Commando's onboard audio is powered by the ASUS Supreme FX add-on card (using an ADI 1988B sound CODEC). The board also sports all the R.O.G. features like the 8-phase 'cap-less' PWM, full solid capacitors, onboard LED, EL I/O and LCD Poster just like the recently reviewed Striker Extreme. Designed for the hardcore, the board has a tweaker friendly BIOS and a total of eight fan headers for you to go crazy with. ASUS also believes that the board should be more geared for today's hardware, which is why the Commando only features PCI slots to compliment the PCIe x16 graphics slots.