Welcome to the Motherboard Memory Lane series, a series of articles that examines PC motherboards and related platforms from an historical perspective. The idea is to explore the boards, the platforms and features from the perspective of HWBOT and overclocking. We’ll also revisit the specific motherboard from each era that proved to be the most popular according to our database, while revisiting the overclockers who used them and the world records that were attributed to them at that time. Let’s move on to our first point in motherboard history, the Intel P965 platform:
Intel P965: Overview
Introduced in mid-2006, the Intel P965 replaced the P945PE chipset. In terms of design it was typical of the days when a chipset truly was a set of Northbridge and Southbridge chips. The P965 was a Northbridge chip paired with a ICH8R Southbridge, supporting a range of processors that used the LGA775 socket. The P965 chipset enjoyed a fairly long shelf life that spanned several processor architectures and model names; Intel Celeron, Pentium 4, Pentium D, Pentium Extreme, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme CPUs. In terms of memory support the Intel P965 used 240 pin DDR2 at standard speeds of DDR-533/667/800, in most consumer boards limited to a maximum capacity of 8GB.
Here’s a diagram that further outlines the functionality and features of the Intel P965 chipset coupled with the ICH8R Southbridge:
With front side bus support for 533/800/1066MHz the Intel P965 arrived on the scene equipped to support Intel’s full catalogue of processors. It supports x16 Lanes of PCIe which could be split to a x8, x8 configuration that would allow for Crossfire GPU setups. SLI would follow once Nvidia opened up support for non-Nvidia / Intel chipsets.
Most Popular Intel P965 Motherboards
If we take a look at the HWBOT database to see which motherboards proved to be popular in the Intel P965 era, there are certainly plenty to choose from. This is not surprising as the platform was around for several years. In terms of ultimate popularity with Overclockers however there is only one contender – the ASUS Republic of Gamers Commando. Interestingly it was the third ROG branded board from ASUS following the success of the ROG Striker and ROG Crosshair offering.
Here’s a breakdown of the top ten motherboards for the Intel P965 platform according to results submitted on HWBOT:
- ASUS Commando – 39.39%
- ASUS P5B Deluxe – 19.32%
- ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP – 12.30%
- ASUS P5B – 5.71%
- DFI Infinity P965-S Dark – 4.05%
- GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 – 3.64%
- GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS4 – 2.66%
- Abit AB9 QuadGT – 2.34%
- GIGABYTE GA-965P-S3 – 1.79%
- GIGABYTE GA-965P-DQ6 – 1.73%
It’s clear to see just how much of a strangle hold ASUS had on the enthusiast motherboard segment at this point in history. The top four boards in terms of P965 submissions are all ASUS, collectively representing 76.72% of all P965-based submissions. The only other brand that makes an impact in the the top ten is GIGABYTE with four models. However these combined represent less than 10% in total. The DFI Infinity P965-S Dark proved to be a flagship for the company, commanding just over 4% of all P965 submissions, while the Abit AB9 QuadGT managed a spot in the top ten with 2.34% of submissions.
Intel P965: Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Quad Q6600
When it comes to really pushing the boundaries of performance using the Intel P965 chipset, we can historically recognize two stand out processors that proved to be most popular with overclockers; the dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 and the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600. In terms of HWBOT users and the chips they were using on the P965 platform, together these two represent around 20%. Looking at submissions, they make up around 16% of all P965 submissions. Let’s look at a few benchmarks involving the P965 chipset and the ASUS ROG Commando.
When it comes to motherboards of this era, much of the work to increase CPU frequency involved pushing what we refer to as the reference clock. The reference clock would essentially be responsible for dictating the FSB (Front Side Bus) which alongside the CPU multiplier, determined the actual clock of your CPU. As with all overclocking, voltage and thermal constraints are the physical limitations that you are dealing with.
The highest reference clock ever achieved on the ASUS ROG Commando was 648 MHz. This was score was submitted by Romanian legend Monstru many years after the launch of the P965 chipset. It was made using an LN2 cooled Wolfdale-based Core 2 Duo E8400 chip. A reference clock of 648 MHz (FSB 2,592MHz) with a x9 multiplier results in a clock speed of 5,831MHz, a massive +94.37%.
You can find the submission from Monstru here: http://hwbot.org/submission/939230_monstru_reference_clock_commando_648_mhz
CPU Frequency might not be a true benchmark in the eyes of many Overclockers today, but in the P965 era it was a very competitive arena for sure. The record for the ASUS Commando was set by Italian Overclocker known as TheKing. His incredible CPU frequency of 8,179.89MHz was submitted in March 2007 and remains a hardware global first place today. He used a ‘Cedar Mill’ Intel Pentium 4 631 with a reference clock of 545.33MHz and a x15 multiplier.
Check out the score from TheKing here: http://hwbot.org/submission/592402_theking_cpu_frequency_pentium_4_631_8179.89_mhz
The third benchmark we are looking at is the classic SuperPi 32M, a benchmark which we can track historically through the ages from the very earliest days of Overclocking, right up to today. The fastest SuperPi 32M score recorded on the HWBOT database for the ASUS ROG Commando stands at 8min 3sec 20ms. This run was completed by Slovenian Overclocker Moonman and was achieved using a Wolfdale-based Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 processor which was cascade phase change cooled to run at 6,173MHz, a massive +85.38% beyond the processor’s stock settings.
Thanks for joining us for the first Motherboard Memory Lane article. Check in for next week when we will examine the Intel P35 platform.