Optimized vs. Cheating: Z390 Motherboard BCLK Comparison

There’s a fine line between optimizing a platform and pulling tricks to unfairly achieve higher scores. We discuss BCLK differences in Z390 motherboards today.
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Article: https://www.gamersnexus.net/guides/3385-cheating-or-optimized-z390-motherboard-bclk-comparison

We tested several Z390 motherboards for this content, including those linked below. Between them, the MSI Godlike Z390 motherboard and ASUS motherboard were the only two that exhibited any peculiar behavior with regard to base clock, and it was MSI’s that exhibited the most consistently peculiar behavior.

The Z390 motherboard differences & comparison features these boards:

– ASUS Z390 Maximus XI Hero (Amazon: http://geni.us/QBAZm)
– ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate (Amazon: http://geni.us/W5QtWaG)
– MSI Z390 MEG Godlike (Amazon: http://geni.us/AFCa6)
– EVGA Z390 FTW (EVGA: http://geni.us/Qwxu9)
– Gigabyte Z390 Master (Amazon: http://geni.us/AUPM)

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Editorial, Testing: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman


Fraser Filice says:

If a motherboard manufacturer can provide a better out of the box experience, thats a good thing. We already preferentially buy pre-overclocked GPUs with beefier coolers. Its on the manufacturers to balance the increased speed from the overclock with the system stability to ensure that the overall experience is in fact better.

Nathan Warden says:

I’m fine with it if, and only if, it’s clearly disclosed on the packaging/website/etc. But, if they’re saying (or leading the customer to believe) that their “board” is faster when they’re really just pre-OCing the CPU then that’s false advertising and is illegal 🙂

John Racoon says:

No imho they should leave the base clock as it is and leave the decision for the end user to decide(buyer of the product) or simply make two versions on base clock and pre overclocked…

Schmidt says:

I think it’s fine if they pre OC the boards but ONLY if they make it clear, right down to the SKU they use, like with GPUs where every model has an OC variant with “OC” somewhere in the title, SKU, box etc. Saying it’s “optimized” would also not be good enough. I think there has to be a line between marketing speak where you can call anything “optimized” if you feel like it (which every mobo vendor does) and something that has an actual OC preconfigured. It would be cool though if vendors actually did it the right way, like with GPUs from earlier gens, where you could buy the same model in a stock and OC variant and get very different results (like actually OC’ing something and get noticeable improvements and paying for it with higher temps). It would also be pretty cool to see what kind of “OC race” this could lead to, with vendors doing their best to get the highest scores in an honest competition where the best components and OC wins the game.

Dev Doc says:

It would be fine as long as the bios indicated the speed was 100 MHz. I would think the clock gen was inaccurate and consider returning the product if it read 100 but actual was 100.8 MHz.

Eddie says:

I don’t really care i don’t mind it being pre overclocked as i do it rarely but i would like to know why it happens like you explained here.

Dreyk Blue says:

as long as they tell us it’s pre oc it’s fine, if they sneak in a pre oc in to make their product look better in comparison to other manufacturers well then, they just lost a customer

Comp Wiz2007 says:

Been avoiding MSI, BioStar and ASrock for years after consistantly failed or flaky motherboards from customers trying to save a buck..

Rush_Gaming says:

I think it should be 100.00 unless otherwise changed because it’s just a bit misleading to not tell the consumers that the board is OCing their chip

Antonio Arroyas says:

I think they should be all set to stock with the option for auto. At the end of the day, the features offered by the MB should be what makes the difference, not these underhanded tactics. It would be interesting to see what Intel’s view on this issue is.

ricky tang says:

The small details matter. Thanks for the insight.
I pre-ordered a shirt. Keep on rocking on.

Derek Wood says:

I agree with your line of thinking. I do not believe there is anything wrong with the pre-overclocking your product, but it needs to be disclosed prior to release

nothing isnt As it seem says:

Can’t really call it over locked either, it’s more like extremely optimized for mai application

Alexander Walker says:

BCLK should be set at 100.00 out of box… Unless explicitly listed as a “CPU Pre-OC Board.”
RAM is listed as OC’d compared to Intel/AMD supported memory speeds, same with the GPU market. They all list they are overclocked, so consumers know what they’re getting.

la lamen says:

Its completely fine if they overclock, but it must be stated on the box!

Tomáš Klouda says:

This was originally started by ASUS long time ago. They started doing exactly this, pre-overclocking their base clocks. I have seen even 103MHz base clock on one ASUS board if I remember correctly (Pentium 3 or 4 board I think).
Then they also came with the MCE, which was another shady practice to make their boards seem faster.
And now, when MCE enabled by default seems to be finally gone, some of the manufacturers are obviously trying to use this ages old trick again. THAT’S BAD!

The launch of Z390 with “9th gen” core seems to be especially bad in this regard of setting fair baseline on all boards.

It is still mystery, why some reviewers are getting so different numbers as Steve from Hadware Unboxed pointed out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGHiRrQ2AAo and this guy even tried to replicate those weird result https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvNjO_UewLw, without succeeding much.
To me, it seems to point the way, that some boards actually do not have VRMs strong enough to support Intel’s 210W package power limit, so they actually limit the power draw of these new exceptionally power hungry CPUs, which inevitably have big impact on performance. This is not completely board manufacturers fault though, as Intel is announcing these CPUs as being 95W parts, while letting them go up to 210W in reality.

I do love having all sorts of OC features like MCE on motherboards, but I strongly think, these should be clearly presented as OC features for enthusiasts and disabled by default!

Bendy52 says:

In the Godlike situation which i guess is the most expensive among all the boards, its ok for such a small increase. i mean who would buy Godlike and be afraid of 0.50 mhz on the cpu.

Bagdadsky_Hornik says:

I definitely think EVERY BOARD should be defaulted to a “spec”. If it is 100 and board tells you it is 100, then there is no debate if it should be 99,7 od 100,8, *it MUST be exactly 100*. They can equip a board with preOC profile in bios, but not in default.

MrSn3akr says:

I think the BCLK should be 100 dead on.. The hidden expense to a consumer of 25% more power draw is a bit cheeky i think.

256shadesofgrey says:

Default should be default. It’s ok to have an “optimized” mode, but it should be a conscious decision by the user to activate it.

Brantley Deines says:

I think they should all be set to 100 bclk, but if at the very minimum they don’t want to to that it should at least be properly reported in bios

Leon Reynauld says:

i think pre-overclocking is fine, there are many people who just buy all components, get someone to assemble it and dont ever go into the bios, so this would benefit them.

there is also the case where people dont know how to achieve a stable overclock and go to wild with the numbers, this would at least give them a nice stable overclock without doing anything.

Henry X says:

Base clock affects everything, the motherboard box should have a huge label “voids warranty of all other components”. Will we get refunds by the motherboard vendor in the unlikely event that any of our components fail ?

Joe Smith says:

I for one am fine with it being pre-overclocked as long as it is properly displayed in BIOS. If the board comes running at a default of 100.80 that is fine as long as it is shown as being 100.80, same goes for higher or lower defaults.

Ryo Mario says:

IMO all AIB’s should keep every component reference speed by default and adding an obvious option to overclock it, for example I had a RX 560 from Sapphire for a couple of weeks and played State of Decay 2 and I noticed some “artifacts” sometimes more like flashing light bulbs where they shouldn’t be, after a while I noticed this in the game’s main menu so I did some research and found out that the RX 560 from Sapphire came with a 1300Mhz on the GPU where as the reference RX 560 has 1275Mhz on the GPU, so I downclocked the card to 1275Mhz and the artifacts disappeared. ( the card wasn’t overheating it hovered around 70c )

TheVerrm says:

For me it’s fine to have 1-2 ‘pre-OCed’ models but it should be clearly stated and with ability to disable this OC in bios. There is nothing really wrong in such application for enthusiast community.

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