nForce 4 SLI Motherboard Round-Up
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI: BIOS & Overclocking
Gigabyte's K8NXP-SLI is equipped with a Phoenix / Award BIOS derivative, that's been customized to support all of the board's on-board features and integrated peripherals. And thanks to Gigabyte's Dual-BIOS feature, flashing to new BIOS versions will always be safe and easy. A flash utility is built right into the BIOS, and because a backup is always available, recovering from a bad flash only requires a few keystrokes.
The K8NXP-SLI's standard BIOS screens look similar to most other enthusiast-class motherboards currently available. The Integrated Peripherals menu, however, has more options than most because each individual peripheral on this board can be manually enabled or disabled. We should note about the K8NXP-SLI's BIOS is that you mush press "CTRL+F1" to access all of the menus. If you don't, a limited version of the BIOS is shown. We found this to be somewhat confusing at first, but it'll probably help to keep some less experienced users from getting into trouble.
The MB Intelligent Tweaker menu, or M.I.T, is where all of the K8NSP-SLI's overclocking tools can be found. Using the M.I.T. menu, users can alter their processor's multiplier (4x-20x) with supported processors and select any processor bus speed between 200MHz and 400MHz, in 1MHz increments. The PCI Express clock speed can also be dialed in manually up to 150MHz, in 1MHz increments, or locked at the specified 100MHz. Processor, memory, chipset and HyperTransport voltages are also user configurable. CPU voltages up to 1.75v are available in .025v increments, and +.1v, +.2, and +.3v options are available for the chipset and the HyperTransport link. Memory voltages can be increased by +.1v or +.2v.
Overclocking with the Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI yielded some decent results. To overclock with the K8NXP-SLI, we cranked our CPU voltage up to 1.7v, dropped the multiplier, and lowered the speed of the HT link to 3x. Then we raised the memory, chipset, and HyperTransport voltages by .2v on this board, and set out to find the highest stable processor bus speed. The K8NXP-SLI fared well, hitting a maximum stable bus speed of 283MHz. Windows XP would actually boot at speeds higher than this, but some applications would crash to the desktop until we brought the speed back down. Users who'd rather overclock their system using a Windows application, can also alter voltages and the bus speed using Gigabyte's proprietary Easy Tune 5 application, which is included on the driver CD, and available for download from Gigabyte's web site.