NI8 SLI: BIOS & Overclocking
Abit also did a good job with the NI8 SLI's BIOS. Almost everything that hardcore overclockers look for in an nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition motherboard is there, along with most of the useful extras found on the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI we looked at earlier in this article.
Just like the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI, and virtually every other motherboard currently available come to think of it, the standard BIOS menus on the NI8 SLI house all of the common tools necessary to enable, disable or tweak all of the board's integrated peripherals. These menus look just like any other motherboard that is equipped with a Phoenix / Award BIOS. But, like the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI, it's in the "uGuru Utility" menu that you'll find all of the real juicy stuff.
As we mentioned earlier, the NI8 SLI's uGuru Utility menu is home to all of the board's overclocking and hardware monitoring tools. The menu is split into two sections, OC Guru and Abit EQ. From the OC Guru menu, users can lock the PCIe clock, alter voltages, and alter Front Side Bus speeds. The CPU voltage can be set as high as 1.8v in .025v increments, and FSB speeds between 100MHz and 325MHz are available in 1MHz increments. The DDR2 memory voltage can be set as high as 2.3v, in .1v increments, and the memory clock is asynchronous and can be set in 1MHz increments as well, up to 1400MHz. We should note that there are no extreme voltage options available, and the chipset voltage cannot be altered at all, so we wouldn't consider the NI8 SLI's BIOS perfect for hardcore overclockers. But it is still quite good. We suspect that with its passively cooled Northbridge, Abit didn't want to give users the ability to raise chipset voltages to high and risk doing permanent damage due to excessive heat.
And on top of the options available in the OC Guru section, the NI8 SLI features all of the same hardware monitoring tools featured on the Fatal1ty AN8 SLI. The list of hardware monitoring options is huge; check out the last few screenshots above and you'll see what we mean.
To overclock with the NI8 SLI, we stuck with good old front side bus overclocking. Armed with the highest-clocked Pentium 4 processor released to date, the 3.8GHz Pentium 4 670J, we slowly raised the FSB frequency until our test system was no longer stable. To assist in our overclocking efforts, we also bumped the CPU core voltage up to 1.525v and the DDR2 memory voltage up to 2.2v. When all was said and done, we were able to raise the front side bus speed to 229MHz (916MHz quad-pumped), for an effective CPU core clock speed of over 4.3GHz. Not too bad at all. We should mention that this was done with the stock Intel cooler, so with more exotic cooling we could possibly have taken things even higher.