Intel P965 Showdown - Abit vs. GIGABYTE
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DQ6: BIOS and Overclocking
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 uses an Award BIOS that is very comprehensive and packed with features. Like many other Award BIOS', this one is easy to navigate and well laid out. 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.
The GA-965P-DQ6's BIOS is an overclocker's dream. Contained within the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) menu is just about every option you would need to push your system to its limits. Like certain other Gigabyte motherboards, many of the more advanced options are not initially available. These hidden options can be accessed from the M.I.T. after pressing CTRL+F1 in the main menu.
The GA-965P-DQ6 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 100 MHz to as high as 700 MHz. PCI-E express frequency can also be adjusted, from 90 MHz to 150 MHz. The memory multiplier has seven settings to allow the memory to run at an assortment of frequencies and detailed DRAM timing adjustments are also available.
The BIOS also offers thorough voltage adjustments. The CPU voltage can be adjusted from as low as 0.6875V to as high as 2.375V, in 0.00625V intervals. DIMM, PCI-E, FSB and MCH voltages can also be increased. An additional 0.775V can be added to the DIMM voltage at 0.025V intervals, while PCI-E, FSB and MCH voltages can all be increased by as much as 0.35V in 0.05V intervals.
In addition to the comprehensive set of manual settings, the M.I.T. menu also offers three different automated settings. Memory performance and graphics card bandwidth can both be toggled between normal, fast and turbo settings. The GA-965P-DQ6 has a built-in automated CPU overclocking feature called CPU Intelligent Accelerator 2 (C.I.A.2) that can be accessed from within the M.I.T. The C.I.A.2 utility is designed to detect CPU loading during computer use and automatically adjust the CPU's speed to maximize system performance. The C.I.A.2 has five levels of aggressiveness; cruise, sports, racing, turbo and full thrust.
We took a Core 2 E6400 processor and set out to see if the GA-965P-DQ6's impressive settings could amount to equally impressive overclocking results. We loaded the BIOS' optimized defaults, then increased the FSB as far as we could go. The frequency of our Corsair TWIN2X1024-8500 modules were kept as close to their rated speed of 1066MHz as possible by adjusting the BIOS' memory multiplier settings.
Ultimately, we were able to take our E6400 CPU to 3.12 GHz, by raising the FSB to 390 MHz and running our RAM at 1037 MHz. This is the highest speed our system was able to handle with perfect stability. Tempted by curiosity, we then took our E6400 to 3.6 GHz on stock cooling with a FSB of 450 MHz and a 0.15V increase. Although we were able to boot into windows at this speed, we weren't able to stay there very long since our system was terribly unstable.
Considering the E6400's rated speed of 2.13GHz, our stable overclock of 3.12 GHz on stock cooling and voltages is very impressive. I am sure that a much higher stable overclock could have been achieved with more potent cooling, but that is out of the scope of this article.