UEFI BIOS and Overclocking
The BIOS on both boards can essentially be configured with three different looks. The top set of images here were captured on the X99-SOC Champion and the bottom set on the X99 Gaming 5P.
When you first enter the BIOS of either board, you’re presented with a “Startup Guide” mode, which offers some quick shortcuts to some of the more basic / more commonly used settings. From this screen you can set the language and time, boot and startup configurations, drive order, set a password, etc.
A quick press of the F2 key will switch the BIOS into classic mode, which will look familiar to long time PC enthusiast. In classic mode, there are a series of tabs along the top for M.I.T. (Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker), System Information, Features, Peripherals, Chipset, Power Management, and Save & Exit. All of those are pretty self explanatory, save for maybe M.I.T, which is where all of the overclocking related options are on both boards.
Overclocking on the X99-SOC Champion or X99 Gaming 5P can be as simple or as complex as you make it. Both boards have quick one-touch overclocking options, but they also offer extensive controls for voltages, multipliers, and base clocks, for CPU, memory, and PCI Express.
An additional view is accessible once you enter classic mode on both Gigabyte boards. Entering the BIOS still initially brings you to the Startup Guide (again, this image directly above was captured on the Gaming 5P, the one at the very top on the SOC Champion), but from classic mode a “Smart Tweak” mode is made available.
Smart Tweak mode has as somewhat similar layout to classic mode, but much more information is presented at either side and the top of the screen and the tabs tunnel deeper as you access a particular menu. As you navigate through the various menus, CPU, Memory, and System health data is presented, along with voltage, fan speed, and temperature statuses and history. There is a ton of info presented to the user in Smart Tweak mode—we suspect this is the mode most enthusiasts will prefer to use.
We spent some time overclocking our Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition with boths boards and had some good success. With a chip as large and complex as the Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition, power and cooling considerations are very important when overclocking. At its stock configuration the Core i7-5960X is a rated for 140W, but power consumption and heat output can shoot up considerably when the chip is pushed well beyond spec. As such, Intel has incorporated options to increase voltages and specify peak current thresholds too. The new options and power / heat considerations add some wrinkles and complexity to the overclocking process if you're looking to squeeze every last MHz out of a chip, but we still found overclocking to be quite easy by changing just a few options.
Most Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition processors can hit 4.4GHz with good air or liquid cooling. A large number of the CPUs can hit up to 4.5GHz on air, and better samples can hit the 4.6GHz mark with the right combination of voltage (1.3v give or take) and a powerful liquid cooler. Although the options are there to disable SpeedStep and various C states, overclocking Haswell-E is really as easy as finding the right combo of voltage, BCLK, and peak Turbo frequencies. By altering those options and leaving SpeedStep, enabled, the processor can still clock-down when not under load, minimizing total power consumption and heat output.
Overclocking the Core i7-5960X resulted in some huge performance gains in the Cinebench multi-threaded test, as you can see. The performance boost in Crysis wasn't quite as pronounced, but it pushed the Core i7-5960X further into the lead.