MSI K9A2 Platinum AMD 790FX Motherboard
BIOS Features and Overclocking
The K9A2 Platinum comes outfitted with an American Megatrends, Inc BIOS that has ample features and offers maximum system control. The thrust of the performance settings are located under the Cell Menu, where CPU, Memory, Voltages and other key items can be manipulated. Atop the menu is the D.O.T. profiles where the system can be set to overclock 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, or 15% automatically. Additionally, this setting can be left disabled and the settings can be manually configured to the user's liking.
The CPU Frequency could be keyed in from 200 up to an unrealistic 600MHz. The HyperTransport link offered multiplier settings from 1x-13x with a frequency range of 200-2600MHz with our CPU. The CPU ratio was typical, bottoming out at 4.5x and topping out at the CPU maximum, in this case 13x.
Memory Timings could be left on Auto or configured manually as well. CAS Latency ranged from 3-7 while TRCD and TRP both ranged from 3-6 CLK. tRTP could be set for 2-4 CLK or 3-5 CLK and TRAS offered options from 5-18 CLK in 1 CLK increments. There is also a Memory divider which ranged from 1:1 (400MHz), 1:1.33 (533MHz), 1:1.66 (667MHz) or 1:2 (800MHz).
Rounding out the advanced settings are voltage controls for CPU and Memory. CPU voltages can be set from a minimum of 1.334v to a maximum of 1.607v. Memory also offered decent voltage options, ranging from 1.8v to a top setting of 3.10v.
Next, we put some of these settings to the test to see how well the system could overclock. To eliminate our CPU or memory as a weak point, the CPU multiplier was dropped to 5x and the memory set to a ratio of 1:1 (400MHz). We then raised the CPU frequency until instability was detected. We managed to hit 330MHz and boot into Windows without issue. However, when we exceeded 330MHz the system would not boot into Windows and 340MHz caused the system to not post at all. When this occurred, we rebooted the system while holding down the insert key in an attempt to recover the failed overclock. Upon booting, we received a warning message stating that the previous performance of overclocking failed and the system was restored to the defaults and to press any key other than delete to enter Setup. Apparantly, when the defaults are restored, USB support stops, so our USB keyboard would not respond and pressing a key did nothing. The only way we could circumvent this message was to remove power and manually reset the bios. This proved rather annoying and we hope a future BIOS update will correct this issue so overclockers will be able to recover their system without having to open up their case to do so.