BIOS and Overclocking: ASUS M2A-VM HDMI
The ASUS M2A-VM HDMI comes with a Phoenix AwardBIOS derivative loaded on an 8MB Flash ROM. The BIOS is relatively well equipped, with adequate performance settings and advanced overclocking capabilities. The sizeable ROM allows the system to maintain two profiles that can easily be toggled. Additionally, the integrated EZ Flash 2 makes it easy to flash the BIOS from a file on CD or the hard drive.
Under the Advanced section we find the bulk of the performance options. When we drill down to the JumperFree Configuration screen, a concise list of options is unveiled. Here is where the DDR2 Voltage can be set from 1.80v-2.10v in .10 increments and the CPU Voltage can be set from .800v up to 1.55v. The CPU Multiplier option can be set from 5x through 13x while CPU Frequency can be keyed in directly from 200MHz to a top setting of 400MHz.
When we move over to the Chipset screen, we find options mainly focused on memory. Here the DRAM Configuration window offers the choice to set the DDR2 speed from DDR400, 533, 667, 800 and Auto. The LDT Bus can also be set to Auto as well as 200MHz through 1GHz. The Frame Buffer for the integrated graphics can be set for either 32, 64, 128 or 256MB of shared system memory.
For a status of critical system functions, the Hardware Monitor offers a one-stop view of key system voltages as well as CPU temperature, Motherboard temperature and various fan speeds. A CPU Fan Speed Warning can be enabled to signal if the CPU fan is running below the threshold set or if it isn't working at all, saving you from damaging your CPU. The range can go from 800, 1200 or 1600 RPM or it can be disabled altogether.
With DDR2 voltage options a bit low for our taste and basic voltage settings, we opted to test the overclocking waters with the M2A-VM HDMI, but didn't aim our sights very high. For starters, we dropped the CPU multiplier to 5X and lowered the DDR2 to 400MHz and started raising the HT frequency in a quest for the highest stable speed. In the end, we topped out at 232MHz. However, once we set our multiplier to x11, the board wouldn't boot into Windows. So, instead, we opted to find the highest we could go with a stock multiplier and managed to take our Athlon X2 5200+ from a stock speed of 2.6GHz up to 2.92GHz with an HT frequency of 225MHz.