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Motherboards => MSI Intel boards => Topic started by: Bernhard on 30-September-11, 22:00:28

Title: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Bernhard on 30-September-11, 22:00:28
So where do we start this time ?
After having set up my new Z68A-GD65 (G3) board, which went without a hitch I must add, I went through a couple of beta BIOS versions to test and see what the restricted multi was all about.
The .N34 beta BIOS eventually had no more multi restriction, but was by no means perfect. Even with the minor issues that still exist, my board is solid and performs up to expectations, maybe even better than what I expected after now having run some comprehensive tests. But more about that later.
First the hardware:
MSI Z68-GD65 (G3)
Arctic Cooling Freezer 13
Crucial 2X2GB CT2KIT25664BA1339 first mem kit tested
Corsair CML8GX3M2A1600C9W  1,35V Vengeance  kit currently on the MB
Nvidia 8600GT (currently for testing only)
Seagate 500GB SATA II
Sony Optiarc DVD RW
Corsair CX500 PSU
all mounted on a CM Lab test bench
OS Win 7-64bit
BIOS used for testing V23.3B4 (.N34)

Other hardware used: Fluke model 77 digital multimeter.

One thing that does need mentioning is that the .N34 BIOS applies the correct memory voltage for the Low voltage Vengeance when XMP is enabled. The previous BIOS did not do that and one has to manually adjust it.
Within the BIOS itself, the reported "Current DRAM voltage" in Auto and Manual does not reflect what is applied in "DRAM Voltage" and even that differs from the real voltage. I used a Fluke Digital Multimeter to eventually find the correct voltages and for anyone that wants to apply the correct voltages, here are two tables as tested.

Having used the multimeter to verify the VCore, I found that CPUZ reflects the most accurate reading out of all the applets used. A 1,36 Core voltage in CPUZ was reflected as 1,363V on the multi.

Now let's get to the real reasons for the tests.
In the recent past we had a user on a MSI sister forum that ran memtest 86 and found what he described as reduced base clocks whenever the CPU multiplier was increased by the "Adjust CPU Ratio" function in the BIOS. This led him to believe that although the board is running at an increased core frequency, that the performance would decrease as the BCLK and mem speed in memtest showed this clearly. No real benchmark tests had been done in the OS to either confirm or deny this suspicion, except a remark that it feels considerably slower than the same CPU on another manufacturer's P67.
At this point I must point out that it is not my intention nor the forum's intention to compare manufacturers motherboards for benchmarking. I shall include sample tests performed on that board which should clearly show any performance degradation, if the memtest data is anything to go by.
Having read the post I decided it would be a nice challenge to see if this memtest phenomena actually translates to a real performance reduction once the OS is loaded and benchmarks are performed. I am fortunate that I also happen to have the exact board that the user was referring to and mine has an i7-2600K on it.
First things first. Let's have a look at what the reported memtest issue is all about

This first screenshot shows the values that were monitored to be inconsistent with what is set in the BIOS. My first screenshot was taken with the BCLK at 100 (99.8) and the DDR3-1600 modules.


The second screenshot was taken with my 1333 memory installed and my mutiplier set at X45 and still a BCLK of 100 (99.8). You can clearly see  that the BCLK is at 73, the memory is at DDR3-975. I tested various multis from 33 through to 45 and as the multi increased, these reflected values decreased. Below are the results of my tests with the 1333 memory:
@ X33 everything is still normal
@X34 BCLK=96  mem DDR3-1291
@X38 BCLK=86  mem DDR3-1155
@X40 BCLK=82  mem DDR3-1097
@X43 BCLK=76  mem DDR3-1021
@X44 BCLK=74  mem DDR3- 997
@X45 BCLK=73  mem DDR3- 975

I checked this with the DDR3-1600 modules and the behaviour is the same. I only ran the DDR3-1600 up to X42 as it was enough to prove the similar results.
@X33 BCLK=99  mem DDR3-1596
@X36 BCLK=91  mem DDR3-1463
@X39 BCLK=84  mem DDR3-1351
@X42 BCLK=78  mem DDR3-1254

It must be remembered that at all times the memory was set at 1333 and 1600 respectively in the BIOS.
Thus the user's valid assumption that something is amiss with the Z68 board.
Since these values in memtest do tend to lead one to believe an associated performance penalty, it was time to put it to the test in the real world and run some applications that could measure overall memory performance and also the total system performance.
My choice was to use Maxxmem which produces comprehensive theoretical benchmark numbers and the 7ZIP which has a benchmark tool included, also providing a comprehensive system bench in terms of file compression and decompression.
The software used:
Win7-64bit OS
CPU-Z v1.58
Maxxmem v1.95
7Zip v9.2
Both the systems used are running with 2X4GB DDR3-1600 Vengeance timings.
My Z68 has the i5-2500K and the P8P67-Pro has the i7-2600K.
Now before anyone cries foul that the i7-2600K has 8 threads and the 2500K only 4. My choice of 7Zip was done because it's benchmark has the ability to restrict the amount of threads for testing. So within the 7ZIP benchmark I used only 1 thread throughout all the tests to ensure a fair comparison.
I quote the following from the Help file.
The benchmark shows a rating in MIPS (million instructions per second). The rating value is calculated from the measured speed, and it is normalized with results of Intel Core 2 CPU with multi-threading option switched off. So if you have modern CPU from Intel or AMD, rating values in single-thread mode must be close to real CPU frequency.
The focus is on the Z68 tests and only X45 was used to do a performance comparison between the Z68 and P67 platform.

First the Maxxmem results:

This already indicates that the perceived performance penalty deduced from memtest 86 has no influence on real world performance. As the multi is increased the memory performance increases proportionally.

Now let's have a look at the 7ZIP benchmark tests. These tests were all done with one core, unless otherwise specified and all used a default dictionary size of 32mb.


This one came as a bit of a surprise. You can see that the Z68 actually outperforms the P67 with it's 2600K when both are running 4 threads.
Once all 8 threads are used, then everything is as per expectation.

A sample overview of the values as reflected within the benchmark applications.

And below a snapshot of my Z68 on the bench test. I know it looks like a mess, but when you are doing testing, nothing beats an open bench.

In closing, I believe that memtest 86 needs some work to be compatible with the Z68 chipset as it is clear from the tests that there is no real world performance loss.

Furthermore I invite other users of Z68 boards to do their own tests on MSI boards and post them for comparative purposes, especially those users that still have a BIOS causing them to have the mysterious throttling.
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Froggy Gremlin on 30-September-11, 22:34:50
In closing, I believe that memtest 86 needs some work to be compatible with the Z68 chipset as it is clear from the tests that there is no real world performance loss.
Excellent testing work Bernhard. Kind of all points to a bugged third party utility.
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Undefined on 01-October-11, 22:33:03
Quite some extensive testing!

Just something to note though, maybe its for another topic, but I just want to make mention of this:
Why does the voltage reading differ from bios to application and applications to applications?
As far as I understand the architecture, the MB has a power management circuitry that takes care of the voltages of the system.

So this means that the voltages that are measured comes from the same source...?
Anyway here are some my thoughts:
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Ex Forum User 3 on 01-October-11, 22:45:03
Good old Fluke, never fails ;-))
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Nelly. on 03-October-11, 18:44:39
I have the same issues with memtest86 v4.20, I have sent a copy of my cpuz dump to the following Memtest86-Official-forum:

They will hopefully eventually fix the issues as seen in the current version of memtest86.
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: PCZ on 16-October-11, 11:16:38
You see that behaviour in memtest 4.2 on p67 boards as well.
Not just MSI but all makes of boards with sandybridge chipsets.

Memtest 4.2 assumes a default clock speed and divides by the multi.
Thats how come the higher you set the multi the lower memtest thinks your BCLK is.

They will fix it eventually,

I am surprised anybody would fail to recognise this as a bug, and believe it indicated an actual BCLK.
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: SonDa5 on 13-December-11, 21:30:06
I think the problem is with the BIOS.

I have tried a few different BIOS flavors for Z68 GD65 G3 and each has bugs.  1 would not allow RAM voltage adjustments.  The most recent one at MSI support WEB site is buggy in that the speed of DDR3 isn't accurate.

I set my DDR3 speed at 1866 and set my CPU adjustment to 10030 to try to get my memory at correct speed and it over shot it a bit.  It is buggy.

Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Jack on 13-December-11, 21:36:36
I think the problem is with the BIOS.

Well, read this thread and you will find out that what you "think" is wrong.  All evidence points to memtest86+ not showing the right numbers.  In case you have actually evidence that disproves the tests results mentioned in this topic, then there is no real point in joining the discussion.

Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: SonDa5 on 13-December-11, 21:42:21
I did read the thread and I tried a few different BIOS versions which each have distinct memory issues. 

These tests clearly show that the BIOS used doesn't work right when selecting voltage settings.  The multi meter voltage results prove the BIOS has problems setting desired voltage.  That problem alone has nothing to do with Memtest86+.

Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Jack on 13-December-11, 22:18:54
That problem alone has nothing to do with Memtest86+.

None of your problems have anything to do with the (impossible) number mess that Memtest86+ displays. So, whether or not you have memory issues is one thing, however, the only important question in this topic is whether or not whatever problems you have are connected to the information in this topic.
Title: Re: Z68 and memtest 86 mystery
Post by: Bernhard on 14-December-11, 07:11:22
SonDa5 this thread is about memtest86 and the fact that it incorrectly reports BCLK and mem speeds on Sandy Bridge boards as you have observed yourself. Nothing to do with the BIOS.
The test that we conducted were done to show that whatever was reported in memtest86 was not a true reflection of the real BCLK and mem speeds once the system was running in the OS. It further concluded that it did not have any performance impact.
My own voltage observations on my board were added within this thread for the sake of completeness of the testing.
If you have particular bugs with your board, then kindly start a thread in the appropriate section of the forum about your problems and your test results.
You started by assuming a problem of some sort with your board, based on memtest86 observations. This was sufficiently answered within this thread.
You are now using someone else's test results to come to some kind of conclusion on whatever perceived problems you have. Do your own tests if you want to prove a point and then take those as a starting point to substantiate your generalised statements.