Intel X48 Motherboard Round-up: ASUS, ECS, & Intel

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ECS BIOS & Overclocking Options



Many users will feel right at home with the American Megatrends, Inc. (AMI) BIOS that ECS uses for the X48T-A.  With the usual headings of Standard CMOS, Advanced Chipset, and PC Health Status we won't spend a huge amount of time going over areas that we've covered numerous times in the past.  However, we will take a bit longer peek into the M.I.B. which stands for the Motherboard Intelligent BIOS where we found the user options for tweaking system performance as well as a few overclocking tools.


The standard blue screens ECS uses are all so familiar.  'Standard CMOS Setup' gave us a vertical representation of all kinds of drives installed, including SATA and eSATA, IDE, and even the mode of floppy drive we have connected.  'Advanced Setup' offers a few more, well, advanced topics typically involving CPU-related features, such as Intel Speedstep, a power-saving method that can be applied, or the boot order of our drives.  Unbefitting an enthusiast-marked board, the 'Advanced Chipset Setup' offers very little in the way of options.

'Integrated Peripherals' is completely straightforward and true to its name allows the user to enable or disable each of the integrated components.  Without native support for IDE devices in the ICH9/R Southbridge, one should make sure to enable the on-chip SATA2 controller (actually, the JMICRON JMB361 controller) for IDE mode to provide this functionality.  Finally, 'PC Health Status' features system and fan speeds, temperature, and voltages as well as a Smart FAN sub-section allowing the user to customize the way the fans are utilized based on CPU or System temperatures.

Overclocking the ECS X48T-A
Like bringing a knife to a gunfight


Entering the M.I.B. part of the BIOS, we were immediately struck by the sheer number of options not present.  By enabling the CPU Overclocking function we expected that more options might become available, and it does, but only by adding CPU and PCIe Frequency inputs.  Voltage options are almost nil: CPU Voltage can be set between 1.1V and 1.6V in 0.05V steps and memory voltage between 1.5V and 2.1V in 0.10V steps.  That's basically it.

DRAM Frequency can also be determined here, using pre-established ratio dividers.  The current timings are displayed and ECS does allow for a full range of timings to be entered by disabling the SPD configuration and opening up a full range of new options.  This includes the main four typically used as well as an additional five used more for overclocking adjustments and the Command Rate.  Oddly, even after using the dividers to set the speed, we often noticed that the memory speeds seemed higher than the desired speeds we had selected in the BIOS.  Without a large range of voltage options, we knew that overclocking the X48T-A could be difficult.

  We didn't make it very far, roughly 375MHz, when we had to first start raising the CPU's voltage.  Raising speeds once again quickly led us back into the BIOS to raise the voltage even higher.  Errors started with BSODs, then to Windows not even launching or missing files, black screens and failed POSTs.  After 3-4 failed POSTs, the system would usually recover, but every now and then the POST screen would simply show nothing at all and required us to power down the system, wait a few minutes, and try again.  At one point, we ran the CPU Voltage as high as 1.55V to try and get a working system, to no avail.  The overall results were not very promising.  Our best attempt only got us to a 383MHz FSB - a mere 50MHz over default speeds  

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