I will now cover all the overclocking specific hardware features this motherboard offers.
This is the area which GIGABYTE has deemed OC Touch; it contains the vast majority of the overclocking features present on the X99-SOC Force, including power, reset, and POST Code. In the age where everything is software, many users still enjoy the feeling of changing things manually, and GIGABYTE offers that with BCLK and multiplier overclocking buttons, as well as a gear button to change BCLK increments.
There is a trigger switch, which immediately changes the CPU and Uncore multi to 12x and back with just a flick. There are also some specific button like TAG, which loads a user specified OC profile, as well as the lightning bolt button, which is for OC ignition. OC ignition provides power to the IO ports and fan connectors, even when the system data busses are powered off.
GIGABYTE also provides two types of Clear CMOS buttons, one is the normal Clear CMOS, and the other is something called "CBAT." CBAT guarantees to clear CMOS memory as if you removed the battery and pressed clear CMOS. They also provide a direct to BIOS button, and a setting lock button to restore previous settings. GIGABYTE also provides a switch to disable their Dual BIOS mechanism to provide faster OC recovery.
There are also voltage read points; however, most of them just poll hardware VRMs, and not internal CPU voltage rails. There is one voltage read point labeled "resv." This is the read point for the VCore, and it is the only internal voltage read point provided; it uses vsense mechanisms to provide this reading.
Surprisingly, GIGABYTE provides a second clear CMOS button on the back panel, which is great for those who complain about clearing the CMOS when the board is installed in a case. The backpanel also features an OC button that will load an auto OC profile specified by GIGABYTE, as well as a dual BIOS selector, which allows you to switch between the main and backup BIOS ROMs.
GIGABYTE also chose to provide increased gold content in the CPU socket, memory DIMMs, and PCI-E slots for better contact. The standard gold plating is five-microns; however, many upgrade their plating to 15-microns, like GIGABYTE did with Z97. With X99, GIGABYTE chose to use 30-microns, which is six times the standard.
The subzero temperature sensor is a new feature for a GIGABYTE board. It is located between the SATA port cluster, and the SATA power connector. The SATA power connector is for extra PCI-E power. The sensors both go all the way down to -200C, and in the BIOS shot, you can see its reading a K-type probe in a pot of liquid nitrogen. You can also read this temperature in Windows through GIGABYTE's EasyTune or System Information Viewer programs.
CPU and BCLK Overclocking
Max CPU Overclock is found by setting the VCore to 1.5v, Input voltage to 2.1v, cache voltage to 1.2v, CPU multiplier to 45x, memory and cache multipliers to 12x, and disabling any features that would result in CPU frequency fluctuation (disabling C states in the UEFI). After doing this, I then proceeded into Windows, and used software to increase the multiplier. In this case, I opted to use GIGABYTE Tweak Launcher (GTL), which is a slim program only meant for changing overclocking parameters in Windows.
5.0GHz is the maximum of our CPU on many boards.
Max Stable Overclock (BIOS settings are located further down):
I was easily able to pull off 4.5GHz on the CPU with 3.3GHz cache, and a 2133MHz memory overclock (32GB) on my memory, by manually tuning the UEFI. Later on, I will cover GIGABYTE's auto OC features, and their overclocks.
Max BCLK is found at the 1.67x (if it's operational), with fixed PCH Core voltage of 1.25v, and System Agent Voltage of +0.3v. All other ratios are tuned back to 12x (memory at 8x), to ensure they don't bottleneck the BCLK overclock.
176.44MHz was the maximum BCLK OC I could achieve with optimal settings. This is the first board we have tried, but our result is currently the top result on HWBot for X99.
Memory overclocking with G.Skill 3200MHz 16GB Kit (Single sided Hynix modules)
Maximum clock on this memory was achieved by using the 1.00x BCLK ratio, and 32x memory multiplier. If these don't work, then use 1.25x BCLK and 24x, and higher multipliers instead. DRAM voltage is set to 1.5v, and system agent to +0.5v; timings were set at 16-16-16-36 2T, and the rest on auto. These high voltages are for testing purposes. For the efficiency test, the 1.25x divider is used with 21.33x memory multiplier. The 24x multiplier is used for CPU and Uncore. HyperPI 32M is used for the efficiency test.
Max OC: 3269 MHz
Efficiency time: 15 minutes, 16.930 seconds
To get the 32x multiplier to work, I set 32x, but the training procedures were tricky. The board will cycle to the POST code 74 two or three times, then go to the code 86, and finally boot as if it didn't cycle five times. I am sure this behavior will get better once these higher DRAM multipliers are improved, as they were just made available in the last few weeks.
BIOS Settings for 4.5GHz Overclock with 32GB of 2133MHz Memory
I set the CPU multiplier to 45x here, and memory multiplier to 21.33x.
I disabled power saving settings, and left Uncore at auto, which took it to 3.3GHz. You can increase this if you want.
I set the VIN voltage to 2.0v, VCore to 1.3v, and Ring voltage to 1.15v. If you decide to OC the memory further, you can increase the system agent voltage. I then went to the advanced PWM settings tab, and set PWM phase control to "eXm Perf," maxed out current on the CPU and DRAM rails, and increased LLC to Extreme.
You should save your settings as you go, because this platform is new, so you might have to clear the CMOS now and then, and reapply the settings from before. The board lets you save these profiles, and you can even access them after you clear the CMOS.
OC Recovery Experience: I would say that the overclocking recovery on this board is pretty good in general, and with BCLK as well. However, for the memory, it can be a bit tricky. Usually the board will recover, but if it's on the edge with extremely high memory clocks, you might get the codes 51, 61, or 72, and you should clear CMOS and try again. If you get the code 74 or 86, the board is training the memory, and you should just let it continue until it boots.
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