Exploring the BIOS and Overclocking
Both the Asus Blitz Formula and Blitz Extreme are equipped with an AMI BIOS derivative that is very complete and relatively easy to navigate. From within the BIOS users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's integrated peripherals, and monitor voltages and clock speeds. The Blitz boards also have a very complete set of memory timing options that offer excellent flexibility for fine tuning memory performance.
The Blitz boards' standard BIOS menu screens don't reveal anything out of the ordinary, but they will give you a "feel" for the general layout and organization of the options. Each individual screen has a host of menus that tunnel deeper and deeper as the options get more complex.
Overall, other than the color scheme, they are very similar to the BIOS derivatives used on most other high-end motherboards today, but navigating through Asus' BIOS menus does take some getting used to if you've never experienced them before.
Both of the Blitz boards' have easily some of the more tweaker-friendly BIOS offerings available, regardless of the platform. And it's withing the "Extreme Tweaker" section of the BIOS that overclockers will find what they're looking for.
From within the "Extreme Tweaker" section of the BIOS, users have the ability to alter clock frequencies and voltages for virtually every major on-board component. The CPU and PCI Express frequencies can be altered in 1MHz increments, and the CPU multiplier and memory ratio can also be manipulated manually. We should note that the Blitz Extreme officially supports a 1333MHz DDR3 memory speed, which is how we tested teh board; the Formula has the ability to run its DDR2 RAM at speeds higher than DDR2-800 as well. There are also extensive voltage options for the CPU, Memory, chipset, and PLL.
With all of the overclocking tools available on the Blitz boards, we had high expectations for their overclockability and were not disappointed. To overclock each board, we dropped our CPU multiplier to 6, and lowered the memory speed as well. Then we raised the CPU voltage to 1.4v and gave the memory, chipset, and PLL all a .1v bump for good measure. All tests were conducted in an open-air environments with stock air-cooling. With these basic tweaks made via each board's BIOS we were able to hit a stable 500MHz FSB (2GHz quad-pumped) with each board. When equipped with the latest BIOS files available on Asus site, both the Blitz Extreme and Blitz Formula are able to acheive excellent overclocking results.
While we were overclocking, we also hooked up a Zalman Reserator liquid-cooler to the Blitz Extreme board's cooling apparatus to see if it had any impact. We were not able to hit a higher front side bus frequency, but the chipset's temperature was brought way down. As you can see in the picture, the base of the heatsink only hit 33'C (the BIOS reported a Northbridge temperature of 41'C). We think having the ability to liquid-cool the chipset on these boards is a welcome addition, but the stock cooling apparatus does a great job even with air-cooling alone.