BIOS Features and Overclocking
The MSI P35 Platinum Combo came outfitted with an American Megatrends BIOS with all the trimmings, as is expected of an enthusiast class motherboard. The Main Menu, Advanced BIOS Features and other common menus yielded all the expected settings for initial configuration of the mainboard. The Cell Menu was the one-stop section for all of the board's performance options, which is where we'll be focusing our attention. The system comes with D.O.T. Control which automatically overclocks the system from 1, 3 and 5% and can be targeted at the CPU, PCIE or both. In our tests we opted to focus on the manual settings for maximum control. The FSB was adjustable from 200-800MHz and could be keyed in directly. The CPU Ratio was also adjustable, with our processor offering the option of x6 or the default x7.
For memory control, the board has several divider options including 1:1.50, 1:2.00, 1:1.20 and 1:1.60 which translated to 999, 1332, 800 and 1067MHz respectively with our CPU. PCIE Frequency could be keyed in from 100 to 200MHz while PCIEx4 control could be set for x2 or x4. CPU Voltage ranged from 1.3000v to 2.0875v and Memory Voltage ranged from 1.80 to 3.30v DDR2 and 1.5v to 2.75v DDR3. With DDR3 installed, CAS Latency could be set for 5-10 while RAS to CAS delay and RAS Precharge both ranged from 3-10 Clocks. Active Precharge bottomed out at 9 Clocks with a maximum setting of 31 Clocks.
When it came to overclocking the P35 Platinum Combo, we were thoroughly impressed. To find a board's peak FSB, we like to drop the memory and CPU to their lowest setting to ensure they do not have an effect on the results. In this case, we had to be aware of our processors, because its multiplier could only be lowered from x7 to x6. This meant we should have had no issues hitting 388 FSB as this would bring the chip back to its rated speed. Anything beyond that, however, and the CPU would be pushed beyond spec. Nonetheless, we moved forward to see just how high we could go. While we wouldn't be able to definitively state the cause of a failed overclock was the board or the CPU, we still wanted to see what we could come up with and we were surely pleased with the outcome.
When all was said and done, this configuration topped out at a stable 500MHz FSB, pushing our CPU from a default 2.3GHz to a peak of 3GHz with no voltage adjustment whatsoever and stock cooling. This is a 28% increase that equates to over 660MHz of bonus horsepower. Naturally, each configuration will respond differently, but this was a great sign for the P35 Platinum Combo, which proved to be an easy overclocker with minimal fuss.