BIOS and Overclocking
Once the board is powered on, you'll see a flash of red light. Normally a bad sign, Abit has equipped the back of the A8N 32X with a series of red LED lights which backlight the motherboard when installed in the case, which is actually quite neat. After you see the red lights, the BIOS screen pops up. At first, it looks like an ordinary Award BIOS, until you enter the menu and see an interesting sub-menu, the uGuru menu.
uGuru works in conjunction with the IC on the top of the motherboard to provide real-time voltage monitoring and speed alterations. From this one menu, you can modify and monitor settings regarding your processor, memory, and fan speeds. The motherboard allows HTT link speeds up to 400 MHz (1,600 MHz HTT), and is set to be (very) slightly overclocked at 202 MHz HTT speeds compared to the recommended 200 MHz. vCore can also be set between 1.35V to 1.75V, DDR voltage between 2.5V to 3.2V. Unlike similar platforms, you cannot manually adjust the nForce4 chipset voltage levels.
uGuru allows you to set profiles based on different clock speeds and voltage levels. For example, you could set a Turbo/Overclocked profile for when you need a little extra "umph" when gaming. Or you could set a low-noise profile when you need to concentrate on work, requiring silence but not tons of speed. It's nice in concept, but I doubt many will make full use of the profiling system. Most will find a balanced profile between speed and noise and stick with it. uGuru has a set profile by default for "Turbo" mode which kicks up the FSB to 216 MHz FSB and vCore to 1.4V.
uGuru also has a software side, which allows the same functionality through a Windows based interface. The software works just as intended, although we found in our testing that it was a bit buggy. Often times, our uGuru chip would detect all of our core voltages as 0.00V, which would trigger an automatic system shutdown. Since uGuru loaded on Windows system startup, this got us in an endless reboot loop until we went into the BIOS and disabled the ability for uGuru to shut down the system. We're also not quite fond of Abit's "bubbly" interface for this application.
All in all, the board does appear to be a solid overclocker. We were able to get our processors running at 250 MHz HTT link speed, allowing our 2000 MHz dual-core Opteron processor to hit speeds of 2500 MHz with very little work. Hardcore overclockers, however, will find the rival Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard more welcoming for hardcore tweaking, as this board provides 2-3x the amount of BIOS tweaking options as the A8N 32X does.