In a prior article, we took an initial look over the Intel 2400 series of CPUs running on the new Intel W790 mainboard range. I came away having seen the potential of the chips, although feeling that the performance on offer was underwhelming when considering the sort of all-core intensive workloads found when using DAW software.
At the time of testing, I noted that the CPU range was in part due to its large physical dimensions, highly efficient at spreading the heat generated when under load. Running at the standard CPU settings, even the 24 core would happily max out at around 50 degrees during the toughest of stress loading. In fact, during the first run of testing, I did take a quick diversion into overclocking and although there appeared to be overhead, I experienced system shutdowns when running under load. I spent some time with it, before deciding that the answer might be to revisit this again on a later BIOS revision or to take a further look after the supporting hardware options had increased.
It was only later that a conversation brought up an inconspicuous ASUS entry where whilst there is limited documentation, it could have a major impact on how you may choose to run one of these systems.
Found hidden away in the BIOS under the AI Tweaker section is a setting simply labelled as "Water-Cooled OC Preset", located in amongst the CPU Core Ratio sub-menu options. I did notice this on the first run whilst attempting my own overclocking, but the lack of further info on what it entailed along with the water cooling notes and lacking a suitable AIO, meant that I left it alone at the time.
Coming back for this further examination, raises the question still of what exactly does it do? The answer we find is that it applies an ASUS pre-defined overclock specific to the model of chip that you have inserted into the mainboard.
This will vary depending on the chip model, for example with the 2495X we saw it jump from 3.3GHz max all core to a 4.4GHz all core under this setting at full load. The 2475X ended up at 4.5GHz and the 2465X saw a healthy 4.6GHz across all of its 16 cores.
So, a quick and easy change in the BIOS prompted another further question, would the Noctua air cooler that I still had fitted from the original testing be able to keep up with a profile specified for a water cooler setup?
Yes, remarkably well. Even with all 24 cores running at 4.4GHz on a fully loaded 2495X, we would see the chip sitting around the 65 - 70 degree range, with no problematic spikes beyond this range.
During this initial testing on the new settings, there were however some unexpected results once I started the first set of DAWBench testing. Much like my early forays into manual overclocking, once a sizable load was applied it would often result in the machine swiftly shutting down. I had questioned my own settings during the original testing run, or perhaps the need for a further BIOS update but here with a sanctioned ASUS profile it meant it was time to dig a bit deeper.
The 850W PSU I used for the stock testing looked to offer more than enough to cover all of the CPUs here, as well as the ASUS W790 ACE mainboard and Quadro 4000 GPU I had completing the setup. The symptoms at hand however did suggest that it could be power related, so I switched to a 1K PSU which lasted longer in testing, before cutting out at the end of an occasional fully loaded test run.
One more time we switched it up again and saw success with 1200W and greater models. The temperatures across the hardware all look well within working ranges and so it seems that the profile here can just be a little demanding when you place it under load. Something likely to be tweaked out on later BIOS revisions as the profiles are refined, but worth observing with a sturdy PSU and a healthy amount of power overhead should you be looking to build this kind of setup yourself.
So, the key question is, how does this equate to in practical terms?
We see the results move more in the direction that we expected to see when going into the original testing, with the 2495X taking the top result now in both tests. With all 3 chips boosting to well over 4GHz across all of the available cores now, it does help to bring them more in line with our needs in the studio. The gains are more pronounced in the CPU-focused DSP results, but there's still extra performance to be found with the more general VI test as well.
Due to a lack of available board options this early in the release cycle, it's not clear at the time of writing if other mainboard manufacturers will follow suit or if this will prove to be a largely ASUS-based experiment. What is apparent however is that with the right supporting kit, there's a lot of potential performance available which is something that ASUS seems keen to help unlock here.
These are still ultimately workstation-grade solutions, with the cost association that brings when considering both the chips themselves and the supporting hardware. Even with the gains on offer, this workstation CPU range sits far above the performance-to-value curve offered by the more mainstream processors, likely keeping it out of the running for the average studio setup. However, for the users who otherwise require the expansive memory support or PCIe handling capabilities that come with the platform, this could help to bring another key benefit to those already considering the platform.
As we've examined previously there's a large spread of hardware options out there these days, all with their own pros and con's. If you would like help with planning out your own dream studio setup, contact us here at Scan to discuss the options with your next DAW setup.
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