ASUS Turbo Key II: Free performance in two flicks

Nick Holland
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AMD launched its 890FX and 880G chipsets this week along with its 6-cored CPUs. ASUS has gone one better on its motherboards and sort of combined the two. AMD’s 6-core CPUs have introduced dynamic overclocking that makes the CPU respond by adding extra frequency to cores being used, when a few are left asleep. The problem is, you need to buy a new CPU to get it.

ASUS has opted for a more consumer friendly approach, by enabling the same technology on all Black Edition CPUs - past and present – no matter how many cores they have. This combined with the core unlocking technology means you can buy a Phenom II X2 555 BE and have it automatically unlock the four cores, PLUS give them Turbo in just two finger strokes:

Asus Turbo Key II

ASUS Turbo Key II and Core Unlocker Switches

Here, and Here.

It’s different to Auto Tuning or other ASUS OC tools, because they permanently seek to increase the CPU core clock, even when the system is idle. So while it’s great to get your work done quicker and your games run smoother, that wastes a lot of power at other times. Turbo Key II and CPU Unlocker functions can be used in conjunction with the AMD Cool’n'Quiet modes to moderate the power use when the CPU is idle.

In terms of performance potential though, the Turbo Key II results speak volumes:

Standard CPU

Cinebench 10 xCPU: 7060

Handbrake x264 1.5GB 720p to iPhone compression: 19 minutes

STALKER – Call of Pripyat DirectX 11 Benchmark (Ultra Setting): 128.1 FPS

CPU Core Unlocker Enabled

Cinebench 10 xCPU: 13279

Handbrake x264 1.5GB 720p to iPhone compression: 14 minutes

STALKER – Call of Pripyat DirectX 11 Benchmark (Ultra Setting): 136.9 FPS

CPU Core Unlocker + Turbo Key II Enabled

Cinebench 10 xCPU: 14301

Handbrake x264 1.5GB 720p to iPhone compression: 13 minutes

STALKER – Call of Pripyat DirectX 11 Benchmark (Ultra Setting): 144.6 FPS

Test Setup: Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition, ASUS M4A79TD Pro, 4GB DDR3 1600MHz, ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB, Windows 7 x64.

With the Core Unlocker switch enabled, there’s an 88 percent performance increase in 3D rendering, 36 percent performance increase in video encoding and a 9 percent increase in gaming performance. Add onto that Turbo Key II and there’s another 8 percent, 8 percent and 6per cent additional performance unlocked, completely free.

Nothing else was changed in the system, it was merely shut down and the switches flicked. Now if that isn’t a lesson in awesome engineering for user friendly, highly accessible technology that hands out freebies, I don’t know what is!

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  • Anon

    I read a conflicting article that says Turbo Key 2 actually degrades performance. Unsure whether to open up my case to disable it or not.

  • Nick

    Do you have a link to the said article?

    Test it for yourself! Download Cinebench here: and test it first with TurboKey II off, then on, and let me know the result!

    What are your system specs?

  • Back to School PC Build Guide | How to Guides –

    [...] simple Core Unlocker switch, giving even better value to your build. Combined with the Turbo Key II we’ve also previously covered the benefits of, it’s an obvious choice for an extra, reliable performance boost at very little [...]