NF4 Ultra Shoot-Out: Abit vs. MSI vs. ECS
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum: BIOS & Overclocking
MSI's K8N Neo4 Platinum is equipped with a Phoenix / Award BIOS derivative, that's been customized to support all of the K8N's on-board features and integrated peripherals. At first glance, there was nothing that stood out in this board's BIOS, but we foind a few gems hiding in there once we begin to tunnel into the various menus.
As you look throug the standard BIOS menus above, you're not likely to find anything surprising, although all of the common options for tweaking, enabling and disabling all of the K8N Neo4 Platinum's integrated peripherals are there. The K8N Neo4 Platinum's BIOS is very complete and easy to navigate. MSI also does a good job of explaining some of the more obscure options in the column to the right. It is in the Cell Menu where you'll find all of the "enthusiast" features though.
It was in the Cell Menu where we found all of the K8N Neo4 Platinum's overclocking and memory configuration options. MSI's Core Cell chip, which is installed on this board, monitors fan speeds, voltages, and temperatures, and all of the readings are available in the BIOS or from within Windows when running MSI's Core Cell application. Using the data being monitored by the Core Cell chip, the K8N Neo4 can dynamically overclock a processor, but we left that option disabled throughout all of our testing in the name of fair play. Users can also overclock their processors manually using some of the other options available in the Cell Menu. Processor bus speeds can be set to any speed between 190MHz and 400MHz, in 1MHz increments, and the PCI Express clock can be configured to operate at any speed between 100MHz and 145MHz, also in 1MHz increments. Processor multiplier between 4x and 25x (.5 steps) are available. CPU, memory, and chipset voltage adjustments are available, as well. The CPU voltage can be set as high as 1.55v, and then bumped up an additional 3.3%, 6.6%, 9.9% or 13.3%. Memory voltages range from 2.5v - 2.85v, and chipset voltages range from 1.5v - 1.85v, all in .05v increments. Another notable feature is that HT multipliers are selectable in .5x increments. All of the other boards only have whole number multipliers.
To overclock with the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum, we followed the same procedure that we outlined earlier. First, we increased the CPU core voltage to 1.7v, dropped the multiplier, lowered the HT multiplier, increased the memory voltage to 2.9v, and slowly raised the bus speed until the system was no longer stable. The MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum ended up hitting the second highest HT clock speed of the bunch. The maximum stable speed we were able to attain with this board was an impressive 309MHz.