Processor Unlocking and Overclocking
Core Unlocking – Simply Easy
With “Core Unlock” prominently advertised as one of these boards’ distinguishing features and coupled with the dedicated “Core Unlocker” toggle situated on the motherboard itself, it would be a big embarrassment if the boards did not support unlocking.
Just as expected, unlocking our AMD Phenom II X2 555BE was a breeze. Core unlocking can be enabled in BIOS as well. In addition, in the BIOS you can select which of the two disabled cores that you would like to unlock. This feature is particularly useful for users with X2 processors that only have one unlockable core.
Maximum Multiplier Overclock
*Important Note* – Please ensure that you have the latest BIOS for both motherboards.
Originally, we had tested both motherboards with BIOS versions 0901 and 1404 for the M4A88TD-M and M4A88TD-V respectively. During our testing endeavors we ran into an interesting phenomenon. The screenshots above represent the highest stable speeds we were able to obtain with the two motherboards. While these two boards are capable of pushing even higher clock speeds with additional voltage, we encountered some sort of thermal throttling when the CPU socket temperature diode temperatures hit more than 55°C. Both motherboards would automatically drop the CPU into a lower P-state, thereby reducing the voltage and multiplier of the chip and thus lowering temperatures to compensate for the added heatload.
Even after updating to BIOS 0902 for the M4A88TD-M, we ran into the exact same problems where the CPU would automatically drop to a a lower P-state. The easiest way to record this drop is to use HWMonitor 1.14. Under the “CPU Powers” section, we can see that HWMonitor recorded a drop from ~140W to ~91W. Alternatively, users can also log CPU frequencies using CoreTemp. A drop in the P-state would be shown by a drop in CPU frequency.
On the contrary, for the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3, updating to BIOS 1702 solved all issues. We were able to obtain a stable 4.0GHz overclock at 1.45v load, with a CPU-NB frequency of 2800MHz at 1.30v.
In conclusion, with the M4A88TD-M/USB3, we were able to hit 3.6GHz CPU clock speeds with a CPU-NB overclock at 2.6GHz. For the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3, we were able to hit 4.0GHz CPU clock speeds at a 2.8GHz CPU-NB overclock.
Maximum FSB Overclock
For non-Black Edition processor owners, the only method of overclocking would be to increase BUS speeds. In this area, both motherboards performed similarly well and nearly identical to competing motherboards on the market. The M4A88TD-M/USB3 and M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 topped out at roughly 342MHz, which is ample headroom to push any processor currently on the market.
There have been many out there who have questioned the pricing strategies of Intel’s latest solutions and in many cases with good reason. AMD’s own processors may not perform at the same level as Intel’s finest but a strategy which focuses on performance per dollar seems to be paying dividends. As we saw in this review, well rounded AM3 boards can be purchased for about $100 without making much in the way of sacrifices.
The M4A88TD-M USB3 and the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 may be considered entry level motherboards but ASUS has packed them to the brim with features aplenty. Both feature AMD’s latest SB850 southbridge and NEC’s USB controller, which provide SATA 6Gbps and USB3.0 for future-proofing purposes. In addition, they have integrated graphics processors ( based on the HD 4250) thanks to the 880G chipset. The M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3, with its slightly higher price tag and larger form-factor, also offers 128MB of Sideport memory and Hybrid CrossfireX support to boost graphics performance.
In terms of outright performance, there really won’t be much to differentiate these boards from those of the competition but the strength of these budget AMD boards lie in some technologies that are usually seen on up market products. Dedicated push-buttons are included for core unlocking and overclocking which can literally increasing your system’s performance without having to fiddle with a dozen or so settings. This in itself really goes to show how manufacturers are taking AMD’s value-added mentality to heart.
Unfortunately, overclocking on theses motherboards is not quite as straightforward as we had hoped. The M4A88TD-M USB3 suffers from an automatic downclocking “feature” which seems to be engaged whenever CPU temperatures increase past a certain threshold. This phenomenon does not happen with similar motherboards from the competition, nor does it occur with other ASUS motherboards that we have tested. On the other hand, the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 (after updating the BIOS to 1702) performed adequately well and has the potential to push for higher clocks with better cooling.
Both of these ASUS boards seemed geared towards HTPC systems or systems where integrated graphics are required. When used in those types of systems, we wouldn’t expect much major overclocking to occur so the above-mentioned issues won’t factor into many people’s buying decisions. The integrated Radeon HD4250 GPU offers adequate performance to stream 1080p video and even for some leisurely first-person shooter gaming. However, for those who can sacrifice integrated graphics, we would suggest a 870G motherboard instead. The Gigabyte 870A-UDP is a great board which offers similar features at a lower price point and without the overclocking hassles.
AMD products continue to impress us with their impressive feature sets at extremely reasonable price points and these two ASUS motherboards really did live up to our expectations in almost every regard. There were some stumbling points particularly with the mATX board but that doesn’t stop them from providing an well rounded experience at a budget friendly price point.
- Numerous BIOS tweaking options for voltages and ram timings
- Dedicated switches for CPU Unlocker (for unlocking X2 and X3 processors), MemOK!, and Turbo Key (for automated overclocking on theM4A88TD-V EVO/USB3)
- SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 connectivity
- Comprehensive software suite
- Large CPU coolers + tall memory heatsinks will cause installation annoyances
- Poor location for IDE connector (on the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3)
- Thermal throttling of CPU greatly reduces overclocking capabilities (on the M4A88TD-M USB3)
- CMOS switch is difficult to access (on the M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3)
The reason for why I posted this review, is they encountered the same problem as I observed. I am not dropping the P-state when hitting 55 degree but sudden off for my B55 processor.
I think I better contact ASUS for further information on this problem, as I can’t tackle this problem with any settings!! I am a little bit angry for this problem /=.=\