You know, I can remember having to go to extremes to get a couple of 100MHz out of a CPU; buying TECs (thermo-electric coolers) and worse, not to mention spending hours trying to find the perfect mix of settings for that small bump. With Sandy Bridge overclocking is very simple; even on a very inexpensive board you can get a 1GHz OC. On the Big Bang Marshal we were able to hit 4.9GHz (which is the current record for this Core i7 2600K!).
You can see the CPUz validation here.
Every motherboard maker has their own set of tools that they include to let you tinker with overclocking right from Windows. MSI calls theirs Control Center. We have played with other versions of Control Center and have had mixed results (including losing performance while it was installed). However, this version seems to be well written and presented no issues at all.
The Overclocking page is pretty well laid out. It has almost everything you would need to push your system to its limits. In addition to this page you always have the OC Genie to get things started. The OC Genie is a one-step overclock that in our experience can get you about ½ of what you can get if you do things manually.
Another area in the Control Center is the Green Power page. Here you can adjust the way the board handles the power phases. We left these set to auto, but the MSI software allows for some pretty nice latitude.
The LED /Temp page gives you a fairly simple overview of what state the power phases on the board are in. The Control Center is a very simple, but effective piece of software and is one that ties in with the OC Dashboard fairly well. The OC Dashboard is a nice little device for getting information right from the board. It is very handy for seeing the post codes and can also give you some very quick information about temps and voltages.
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.
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