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ASUS P5K3 Deluxe: BIOS & Overclocking

The P5K3 Deluxe uses a heavily modified AMI BIOS with the same general layout as many other ASUS boards in the past. Like many other AMI BIOS menus, this one is easy to navigate and well laid out although it may not be immediatelyfamiliar to someone who has not used an ASUS board recently. From within the BIOS, users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's various integrated peripherals, and can monitor fan speeds, voltages and clock speeds.

ASUS P5K3 Deluxe: Exploring the BIOS
Overclocking Options Galore

As expected from a premium motherboard, the P5K3 Deluxe's BIOS is highly configurable and offers a vast array of options. The various menus were well laid out and easy to understand. The BIOS is also internally documented and highlighting just about any option in the BIOS will display a corresponding explanation on the info bar located on the right side of the screen. However, we experienced some lag in certain menus like the 'hardware monitor' and the 'ai net 2' menu.

Two special features offered by the P5K3's BIOS are OC profiles and the EZ Flash 2 utility. The OC profiles feature allows you save your overclocking settings into profiles which you can then load at a later date. The EZ flash 2 utility allows you to flash the BIOS without requiring a bootable floppy disk. The BIOS can be flashed from an BIOS image saved on a floppy drive or USB memory stick from the EZ Flash 2 menu.

While these options are quiet useful, the real fun is in the 'Advanced' menu. Inside, you'll find just about every voltage, frequency, multiplier, ratio and timing setting you'll need to push your CPU, memory and motherboard beyond their manufacturer recommended limits. Before you can get to all the manual controls, you first need to select the AI Overclocking mode you would like to work in. There are four modes to choose from; they are Manual, Auto, Standard and N.O.S. Manual mode allows you to individually tweak the various CPU, FSB and memory settings as you please. Auto mode loads the optimal default settings while Standard loads the standard settings. Finally, N.O.S. mode is the board's automated overclocking feature. In N.O.S. mode, the motherboard intelligently determines the system load and boosts performance while the system is performing particularly demanding tasks. There are four different N.O.S. mode aggressiveness settings; Auto, Standard, Sensitive and Heavy Load.

The P5K3 Deluxe allows the user to manipulate the CPU multiplier, although you are limited to decreasing the multiplier unless you have an unlocked processor. The front side bus frequency can be adjusted in 1 MHz increments, from 200MHz to as high as 800MHz. PCI-E express frequency can be adjusted from 100MHz to 150MHz in 1Mhz increments.

Particularly interesting is the ability to manually set the FSB strap to the north bridge. The settings available are 200MHz, 266MHz, 333MHz and Auto. In auto mode, the FSB strap will be set depending on the selected FSB frequency and the DRAM frequency. In turn, the DRAM frequencies available are determined by the FSB strap and the FSB frequency.

The BIOS offers thorough voltage adjustments. The CPU voltage can be adjusted between 1.1V and 1.7V, in 0.0125V intervals. Memory voltages can be set as high as 2.25V and as low as 1.5V, in 0.05V intervals. The north bridge can be fed 1.25V, 1.40V, 1.55V or 1.70V, while the south bridge voltage can be either 1.05V or 1.20V. The FSB termination voltage can also be adjusted between 1.2V and 1.5V in 0.1V intervals.

Overall, we found the P5K3 Deluxe' BIOS to be excellent. There is an abundant selection of overclocking options and the voltage adjustments are very generous. The menus are well laid out and it only took a couple moments to figure out where everything was.

ASUS P5K3 Deluxe : Overclocking
Overclocker's dream
We took a Core 2 E6850 processor and set out to see if the P5K3 Deluxe's extensive BIOS settings could amount to equally impressive overclocking results. We loaded the BIOS' optimized defaults, and then increased the FSB as far as we could go without having to increase voltages to achieve stability.

We dropped the E6850's multiplier as low as we could to 6 from its stock setting of 9 in order to make sure that our processor wasn't holding us back. Then we overclocked the FSB frequency as high as it would go without compromising system stability or increasing voltages. We ultimately achieved a FSB overclock of 535MHz (2140MHz effective). This is the highest speed our system was able to handle with perfect stability. We were able to boot into Windows at slightly higher frequencies but we weren't able to stay there very long since our system was terribly unstable . Overall, the P5K3 Deluxe is a great overclocker. The FSB overclock it was able to achieve is excellent and it makes the P5K3 Deluxe an excellent overclocking platform which is virtually free of FSB restrictions which can hamper your processor overclock.

Tags:  Intel, Asus, Gigabyte, Pre, XP, son, express, AR, COM

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