BIOS Options & Overclocking
An AWARD BIOS is used for controlling the EP45-UD3P. The MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) menu is the very first section that you'll see, even though it contains the most advanced options available. Immediately following M.I.T. are the Standard, Advanced, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management, and PC Health sections. There is also an extra section at the end for Security Chip Configuration that is to be used with the TPM functionality.
Standard CMOS Features are used to configure the system date and time, drive types, and define the types of errors that will prevent the system from booting. Advanced BIOS Features determine the boot order, toggling advanced CPU features, and setting the primary graphics adapter. Power Management allows the user to set all of the power saving features while Health Status displays information about detected system and CPU temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds.
M.I.T. contains a lot of the more advanced tweaks including altering the CPU Clock Ratio or frequency, items typically used when overclocking the system. CPU Host Clock Control must be enabled first in order to change these settings, acting as an initial safety measure for users who might get in over their heads. Along with the CPU, Robust Graphics Booster helps enhance the performance of the graphics card based on the system configuration. Options available here are Auto, Fast, or Turbo which aren't exactly helpful in describing what's being altered here.
C.I.A.2, otherwise known as the CPU Intelligent Accelerator, is designed to automatically adjust CPU speed to maximize system performance. Unlike the obtuse settings for the video, C.I.A. 2 has five presets ranging from 5% at Cruise level to 19% at 'Full Throttle'. DRAM Performance Control has performance-enhancing settings of Standard, Turbo, and Extreme although, again, what is getting enhanced here is not fully explained to the user. However, a full set of DRAM timings are available to the user for manually configuring their memory as they best see fit.
What would a board be these days without offering some sort of "green" options? Gigabyte offers up a Green LAN option - if an onboard LAN port is enabled, the system will dynamically detect if LAN cables are connected or not. If not, that controller will then be disabled and powered down. Finally, Smart LAN runs diagnostics which can detect a cabling issue and report approximately the distance to the fault. It also display the current transmission speed for those interested.
Using Easy Tune 6, we were able to quickly and easily choose from the three preset options: 2.8 GHz on a 400 MHz FSB, 3.01GHz (425MHz FSB), or 3.15 GHz (450 MHz FSB). The memory dividers and CPU Core Voltage are adjusted accordingly to make things run correctly. Simply clicking the buttons got us the overclocks desired without any problems at all. The system ran stable at each speed without any other assistance from us.
Switching over to manual testing, M.I.T. has all of the typical options we wanted to use to get speeds even higher. CPU Frequency can be entered in directly anywhere within the range of 100 MHz to 1200 MHz. The System Memory Multiplier may have a fancy name, but its the section where memory dividers can be found, although the process is made all the more confusing by using letter codes for frequencies that are then combined with a multiplier. Thus 2.0A might mean 2x a 266MHz FSB or 533 MHz RAM. Voltage options are plenty, with CPU VCore, CPU Termination, CPU PLL, CPU Reference, MCH Core, MCH Reference, MCH/DRAM Reference, ICH I/O, ICH Core, DRAM Voltage, DRAM Termination, Channel A Reference and Channel B Reference listing out the individual choices here.
Since Easy Tune 6 previously had easily gotten us to a 450 MHz FSB, we used that speed as our starting point and continued from there. Once we chose a multiplier that would keep our memory speeds under 1150, we started to raise the FSB a few MHz at a time. CPU and Memory speeds are dynamically updated on screen to give you an idea of what you're shooting for. We managed to quickly get into the low 500 MHz range with a few voltage tweaks for the CPU and MCH. When an overclocking attempt did fail, we typically had an easy time of getting back into the system, as it reset the clocks to original specs, with a warning that the overclock had failed. We were then allowed to continue modifying the system to try an increase stability, or reduce speeds if necessary.
540 MHz appeared to be the ceiling point where we could no longer attain a stable system, so we backtracked a few steps arriving at a 537 MHz FSB, 3.76 GHz for the CPU which just so happens to be the highest speed we've achieved with the particular processor. Another run of 3DMark's CPU Module gave us results that were 57% greater than the original scores at default speeds.