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

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Intel BIOS & Overclocking Options


Getting to the BIOS for the DX48BT2 requires pressing 'F2', and of the three BIOSes it seems the most straightforward--but first impressions can be deceiving.  Across the top are sections labeled Main, Advanced, Performance, etc.  And all seems to be in proper order...


Main, at the very least, offers little surprises as it displays information regarding the CPU, Bus Speed, and memory characteristics.  Advanced goes a step further, with configuration options galore regarding boot order, peripherals enabled, even configuring which PCI-e slot to use first.  The first item down, however, is labeled Boot Configuration, which one might immediately connect to boot drive order but actually has more to do with fan control and numlock key status instead.  The order of your drives is handled later, under the less imaginative but more direct 'Boot' tab from the main menu.  Strangely, "Floppy Drive" appears as one of the device types, even though Intel has done away with floppy drive support on this board. 

Hardware monitoring is a section of the BIOS that, while being labeled correctly, is too literal for our tastes.  By this we mean that all you can do on this page is monitor fan speeds, temperatures, and voltages.  There are no options to set up alarms or do anything else but check to see that things are within spec.  Overall, it's a very streamlined assortment of screens with the sole exception of Performance, which we will cover next.

Overclocking the Intel DX48BT2
Picking us up by our bootstraps


Under the Performance menu, users will find all of the overclocking-related options.   By default, everything is disabled which basically means the system is running at its default speeds.  Each override needs to be enabled in order to unlock the tools and the user has to accept a long winded warning about the dangers of "altering clock frequency and/or voltages".

Once unlocked, the processor multiplier can be modified as well as the host clock frequency.  Dialing in the speed desired instantly updates the processor speed below, giving the user an idea of what kind of overclock they will be looking at before saving their changes.   Voltage options fall somewhere in between what is available on the ASUS and ECS boards;  not as expansive as that seen for the Rampage Formula but more than ECS.  Here are the ranges:

CPU Voltage Override:
CPU Voltage Offset:
FSB Voltage Override:
MCH/ICH Voltage Override:
Memory Voltage:
1.2875V-1.60V (0.0125V steps)
"bumps" CPU Voltage .003V
1.10V-1.50V (0.025V steps)
1.25V-1.70V (0.025V steps)
1.50V-2.50V (0.025V steps)

Memory timings and speeds also come into play when overclocking the DX48BT2, and memory configuration allowed us to change the frequency using dividers based on the FSB.  Thus, entering in a value for the frequency here will not necessarily be the true value after rebooting, and this time there is no dynamic update on screen to give you a helping hand.

When an overclocking attempt fails, the system repeatedly and quickly shuts down and reboots repeatedly in a never-ending cycle.  Sometimes this process will get you back into Windows, but only then do you realize that default values have been applied.  Other times it simply requires clearing the CMOS and starting over.  As this process wore on us, it became a bit of a chore to overclock this board.

  Like the others, we were able to get to around a 370-375 MHz FSB without any adjustments, but here we had to raise the VCore to 1.4V to get back into Windows.  We continued on as high as 400MHz at this configuration.  However, at this speed, we could never gain any real stability with application crashes, BSODs, and the rest crippling any attempt to get anything done.  Unfortunately, no manner of voltage bumps to the CPU, FSB, and/or MCH/ICH or other tricks would right the ship, and after a long and arduous run at trying different speeds and voltages, we eventually settled at a 398MHz FSB with 1.4125V for the CPU.

Oddly, our problems didn't end there.  Even after reverting the settings to their defaults, we had issues rebooting the system.  Possibly this stemmed from some left over heat issues, as the Northbridge was startlingly hot to the touch, but eventually we were able to get back into Windows and use the system normally.

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