As with every other ASUS board, the Sabertooth X58 uses a modified AMI (American Megatrends Inc) BIOS layout. For our testing we worked with the 0402 version of the BIOS.
Of course, as with all ASUS products, the place to be is the AI Tweaker page. Here is where almost all of your system tweaks reside. We have CPU ratio, BCLK, DRAM speed and quite a bit more.
One of the important Submenus here (inside the AI Tweaker page) is the DRAM timing control. Here is where you can adjust timings, sub-timings, and sub-sub-timings to squeeze the most out of the memory you are using.
The Voltage controls on the Sabertooth are also very detailed with reference DRAM voltages broken down into channels. The extra voltage controls are handy to help ensure stability throughout the board subsystems.
Of course, as with all BIOSes, there are places other than the overclocking settings (I know, I know, they are not as interesting). The Advanced CPU Settings page lets you enable or disable prefetch, virtualization, Hyper Threading, and C-States. That last item can improve performance in single threaded applications when it is disabled.
The power management pages are always interesting on ASUS boards; if for no other reason than the fan profiles and settings.
The Case fan header has the choice of Standard, Silent and Turbo while the CPU has an extra option of manually setting the temperature thresholds and the fan speeds used when those levels are reached. It is an impressive setup and one that so far has always worked for me (although we do not use them during testing).
I am not sure if it is us, or that manufacturers are making their overclocking tools cleaner and easier to use, but overclocking most motherboards these days is very quick and simple. It took us no time to get the Sabertooth running at 4.3GHz. We had some issues running over that speed that we did not have the time to address before our time was up, but we feel confident that this board has a lot more headroom in it. Oddly enough, the Sabertooh did not come with the TurboV EVO software we have come to enjoy, but an Intel performance utility was available that we will be covering below.
You can see the validation for the Sabertooth X58 here.
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
In place of the TurboV EVO software, the ASUS Sabertooth X58 has the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. But that is not a bad thing as we found it to be quite complete. You have both manual and auto tuning options.
Like most overclocking software, you have to get the usual warning tell you that overclocking your CPU may cause things to break...But like most of us, you will simply ignore that and press on.
We did not bother with the Auto Tuning method but instead went right into the Manual controls to see what Intel put there for us to play with. As you can see, Intel has dropped in quite a bit even allowing you to enable and disable items like SpeedStep and Turbo Boost right from inside Windows.
Even memory settings were put inside. This is something that I have wanted to see from a Windows based overclocking software for some time. I cannot tell you how many times I have set a speed in Windows, but had to reboot to the BIOS to adjust RAM speed or timings to get things stable. Having this right here is a very nice touch.
The voltages available are a little more limited than I would like, but still give you the major ones with the exception of the CPU PLL voltage.
You can also tweak the PCIe frequency and the QPI multiplier.
Of course, just as an added bonus, you get a stress testing utility and a place to store your overclocks.
As all overclocking results are dependent on the hardware you use, your results may vary. Results of our overclocking tests are included in the performance section with the stock scores.
Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the motherboard. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.