The BIOS & Overclocking
In typical ASUS fashion, the BIOS on the A8N32 SLI Deluxe has just about every tweakable bell or whistle you could ask for. Well actually, it has all any performance enthusiast could ask for and then some. Let's take a look.
The standard issue configuration and overclocking features are present, of course, along with what we think is one of the more important features: ASUS C.P.R. or "CPU Parameter Recall", in the event you set up a non-bootable configuration. If it is detected that the CPU locked up, timings will be set back to default parameters on the next boot attempt. This feature is also accompanied by a large selection of DRAM and CPU voltage settings, in .125V increments. Standard 1MHz CPU timings are present, as well as a full assortment of multiplier options for both CPU and DRAM.
There is, however, a very unique BIOS menu option called "DDR DRAM Skew," which basically is driven from an on-board PLL from ICS that allows programmable advance or delay of the DRAM clock skew in 150ps (picosecond) increments. Frankly, we're not sure exactly how useful this feature is, in that DDR DRAM timing has very tight skew and jitter characteristics that must be met to ensure stable performance at any speed. However, perhaps this setting, when trying to stabilize things in extreme overclocking scenarios, will have some sort of normalizing affect on the clock signal. We played a bit with this setting and weren't definitively able to determine if it bought us any more DRAM timing margin while overclocking. Still, more control is a good thing, and we plan on exploring this feature a bit more in the weeks ahead.
Overclocking and Health Monitoring utilies such as ASUS PC Probe and AI Booster are part of every ASUS board bundle and are offered on the all-in-one driver CD that comes with the A8N32SLI Deluxe. PC Probe II is a basic utility for monitoring system temps, fan speeds, and voltages, while AI Booster facilitates real-time dynamic overclocking depending on processor workload.
You'll notice in the screen shot above that our motherboard temp, which is typically a reading taken from the PWM circuit on the motherboard, is showing a somewhat toasty 44oC. Although this was taken with an open-air bench setup, it also was a reading we got while overclocking our Athlon 64 FX-57 processor to over 3GHz. Regardless, with the nature of the fanless heat pipe design of this motherboard, we do recommend a well-ventilated case.
Of course, our well-ventilated HotHardware test bench is a perfect environment for overclocking, so we dialed up the ever-capable BIOS menu options of the A8N32 SLI Deluxe and like others before it in its lineage, the board was as smooth as silk under pressure.
In the end we were able to realize a 260MHz system bus driven to the Athlon 64 FX-57 processor we used for testing. We then backed down the CPU multiplier to 12X and hit a top clock speed of 3.12GHz. This tops the speed that we were recently able to hit with the ASUS' A8N SLI Premium back in July of this year by about 20MHz. This was nothing earth shattering for the A8N32 SLI Deluxe, in terms of capabilities over its predecessor, but pretty darn spiffy nonetheless.