Review: 4GHz? Why yes, there’s a button for that!
Overclocking, a once dark art practiced by the shadiest of nerds in order to conjure increased clock rates, has slowly but surely become an accepted mainstream practice. As motherboards have matured into over-engineered slabs of rock solid PCB, the ability to push them and their delicate processor inhabitants has been nothing but uncanny. Regardless of the long history of pushing hardware beyond their engineered specifications, it hasn’t been until now that we’ve been offered a motherboard made specifically for facilitating record breaking overclock attempts. GIGABYTE has leveraged its expertise to produce the X58A-OC – and it has us very excited!
Is it pretty?
We’re glad you asked, because it’s quite a striking piece of kit. Bright orange highlights on the black components, specifically the various heatsinks and PCI-e slots, gives off a glorious sense of impeding danger, much like that of various venomous arthropods. Statistics have it that this sense of potentially breaking your (or a trusting friend’s) expensive processing equipment improves overclocking efforts by up to 50 per cent.
But being a tad fancy isn’t limited to the aesthetics! The layout of the X58A-OC looks similar to any other modern offering, however if you spy with a keen eye, some nifty little differences become apparent. Firstly, the strategic placement and usage of electrical components, such as the all solid-state Sanyo ‘POSCAP’ capacitors make, makes it significantly easier to apply insulation material (for sub-zero benchmarking), particularly between PCI slots. These aesthetically pleasing low profile capacitors are utilised across the entire motherboard. Additionally, despite being an ATX motherboard, the clear area around the CPU allowed us to fit the massive Noctua NH-D14 without issue! The main attraction here is the ability to mount LN2 and dry ice (DICE) pots without obstruction.
What’s driving this thing?
GIGABYTE introduced a new VRM design by the name of OC-VRM, which utilises POSCAP capacitors, 50A MPFC chokes, and Driver-MOSFETs to deliver power to the CPU. Having quality components means better efficiency, reduced heat, and ultimately more useful power getting to the CPU. Via 2x 8-pin power connections, a maximum of 1500W can be input, with output to the CPU reaching an impressive 1200W. Why you’d need this much power under any circumstance is anyone’s guess, but it’s got all the hallmarks of e-peen, and for some people that’s all that matters!
Current flow to the CPU can be controlled via an Intersil PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) module. This can be ‘overclocked’ from 600kHz to 1000kHz to suit power requirements under extreme conditions.