NF4 Ultra Shoot-Out: Abit vs. MSI vs. ECS
ECS KN1 Extreme: BIOS & Overclocking
ECS' KN1 Extreme, like the other boards showcased here, is equipped with a Phoenix / Award BIOS derivative, that's been customized to support all of the board's integrated peripherals. And keep in mind, that thanks to the included "Top Hat" flash accessory, flashing to new versions is safe and easy, because a backup is always available. Recovering from a bad flash is only a matter of installing the Top Hat accessory and re-starting the system.
The standard BIOS screens above will look familiar to you all by this point in the article. The screen shots above represent all of the standard options necessary to enable, disable, or tweak all of the KN1 Extreme's on-board peripherals, set the time and date, boot order, etc. There are also some overclocking tools available on this board, but they are not as complete or as well organized as the competition's.
The KN1 Extreme's overclocking tools are spread out in two menus, the Power Management Setup and the Advanced Chipset Features menus. In the Power Management Setup menu, users will find the options to enable Coon'n'Quiet and to alter the processor's multiplier (Labeled "Hammer Fid Control"). And in the Advanced Chipset Features menu you'll find the HT clock, voltage, and memory tweaking tools. With the KN1 Extreme, user's can raise the CPU voltage by up to .375v, and the memory voltage can be maxed out at an impressive 3.11v. But that's it; no other voltage options are available. HyperTransport clock speeds can be altered by changing the multiplier, or by increasing/decreasing the CPU frequency option, but this is another relatively weak point for this board. The KN1 Extreme only supports HT feed frequencies of up to 250MHz, in 1MHz increments. There are also a few options available to tweak memory timings, but noticeable missing is a setting to enable or disable a 1T/2T command rate manually. We should also note that ECS also includes a copy of NVIDIA's nTune utility for users who prefer to tweak their systems through Windows.
With the limited overclocking options available on the KN1 Extreme, we weren't expecting much in this area. By following the same procedures outlined earlier (lowering CPU multiplier, lowering HT multiplier, and raising the CPU and Memory voltages), we were able to hit 240MHz without any issues. Anything higher than that caused instability and errors during the POST. Hopefully, future BIOS revisions will unlock a few more overclocking tools, like a PCI Express frequency selector and chipset voltage options.