Last evening, i took the plunge and decided to swap my Gigabyte 970 UD3P with my Biostar TA 970 Plus (6+1 phase). Oh, pretty!
Installed Windows, all fine. Well, almost. The BIOS although pretty, had some strange names. Like:
- VGA palette snoop (never seen this before)
- PCI-E Maxy Payload
- Cool N Quiet apparently is called "PowerNow".
- Core levelling (explanation saying "core downclocking") i still don't know what it is.
- CPM Mode
- CSM 16 Parameters
- INT9 Trap
- Gate 20 Active
- Turbo core is apparently called "CBP".
Anyway, all seemed fine, until i installed monitoring software. Now in BIOS there was only 2 values, CPU and system, both very low, like 32C. The same 2 values are the only that show in Biostar's monitoring software, which is as spartan as it gets. It shows just these 2 temps and nothing more.
To cut to the chase, you have a 3rd temp in all other monitoring programs, which as you boot to Windows is already at something like 64C and as you stress test, it hits 90C and it throttles.
With Prime95 it throttles even at stock 3.5Ghz, as soon as that temp hits around 90C. So, the suspicion is, that it's the VRM. The VRM heatsink, measured with IR thermometer, shows temps between 47C and 58C. So i don't know what's going on, unless the thermal pad down there is completely crap and isn't transferring any heat.
Mind you, these temps, with a top-down cooler with 120mm fan at 1900rpm. Speaking of which, the fan's speed doesn't seem to be able to impact this temperature, as you see 1200rpm on one and 1900rpm on the other.
The CPU auto fan took me a while to figure out, which is why this discrepancy. It's actually INGENIOUS. You press a button and the motherboard "calibrates" your fan and finds min rpm, max rpm and how it revs up with voltage. At the end, it proposes you values to input manually and you get 2 autoprofiles, "quiet" and "aggressive". And they both work. It's the best method i 've seen between Gigabyte and Asrock.
To add insult to injury, if you attempt to overclock to 4Ghz, which can be done only by an option about "custom P-States", you lose Cool N Quiet, despite Power Now being enabled. I mean, PULEEASE! This is so 2007!!!
The audio is also very clear on the motherboard and very loud.
Maybe it's PEBKAC, but i really can't figure out what else i might have done wrong. Maybe it's a defective part, i don't know, but now i 've derated it to 0.5 out of 5 stars, in my previous review:
It's a SHAME really, because everything works very well (including the USB 3 ports). BUT, for a 6+1 phase motherboard, to throttle at stock clocks and actually it undervolts too, due to vdroop to 1.27v and to lose Cool N Quiet, is inexcusable. Could be that the VRM heatsink thermal pad is completely junk and if replaced, everything goes to normal. I don't know. But i don't have the time or patience to try to fix it.
The good thing is, i didn't pay much for it. I will keep it as spare for my brother or some friend probably. And now i must decide whether to put back the Gigabyte UD3P with the terrible BIOS or put back one of my spare Asrock 970 Extreme3, which at least can withstand 4Ghz without throttling and have easygoing BIOS.
Anyway, this explains why Biostar doesn't sell many motherboards. This could have been a winner, but they ruined it.
EDIT: I pressed down hard the VRM heatsink and i found out that it can be easily displaced actually. This also lowered said temperature to 44C, but under stress test it went up to 90C the same. So, the cuprit may be the bad heatsink design/ bad thermal pad / not enough pressure of the heatsink / poor VRM design.
Any of that or all of them combined. Fact is, i am exhausted and don't have energies for trying to fix it. I have Arctic thermal pad i could use, but this would require me to take it off the case and reinstall it again and if Arctic doesn't work either, take it out again. Which i just can't stand.
I think i will put an Asrock 970 Extreme3 back. I need a break from Gigabyte too.
P.S: As a bonus, the Biostar manual doesn't explain ANYTHING about the BIOS. I mean, ANYTHING. They think it's easy to guess.