nForce 4 SLI Motherboard Round-Up
DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR: BIOS & Overclocking
DFI did an great job configuring with the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR's BIOS. They've incorporated all of the tools necessary to tweak performance and overclock a system, along with a plethora of custom features that make it extremely easy to experiment with different configurations and recover from aggressive overclocks.
The standard BIOS menus are where you'll find all of the common tools necessary to enable, disable or tweak all of the NF4 SLI-DR's on-board peripherals. Most of these menus look just like any other motherboard that is equipped with a similar BIOS. It's in the "Genie BIOS Setting" and in the "CMOS Reloaded" sections that you'll find all of the options that make the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR's a cut above the rest.
As we looked through the "Genie BIOS Settings" menu, it was clear DFI wanted to cater to hardcore overclockers when they were designing this board. In the "Genie BIOS settings" section, users have the ability to set the CPU core VID voltage as high as 1.55, and then bump that voltage an additional 4% - 36%. Users are also able to adjust the Front Side Bus speed from 200MHz to 456MHz, in 1MHz increments, and can alter the PCI Express clock speed in 1MHz increments. The Northbridge voltage can be raised up to 1.8v, the HT voltage can be set to any voltage between 1.2v and 1.5v (.1v increments) and the memory voltage, in the board's default configuration, can be raised up to 3.2v in .1v increments. Swap the jumper block on the upper corner of the board, and extreme memory voltages as high as 4v are made available. The NF4 SLI-DR also has the ability to alter the CPU multiplier (4x-25x) when using an FX CPU, but lower multipliers are available for all Cool'n'Quiet enabled Athlon 64s.
The "CMOS Reloaded" menu is home to another very useful BIOS feature. With CMOS Reloaded, users can store different BIOS configurations, and load them by simply selecting them from a menu. You could have one configuration set up to underclock and undervolt your CPU to keep the system running quietly, and another set up with tweaked memory timings and an overclocked CPU for a hardcore gaming session. With CMOS reloaded, there is no need to set each option manually every time you want to change your configuration.
To test the LANParty NF4 SLI-DR's overclocking prowess, we bumped the CPU voltage to 1.7v and the memory voltage to 2.9v and gave all of the other peripherals a .2v bump, as well. Then we dropped the multiplier and lowered the speed of the HT link and raised the processor's bus speed until the test system was no longer stable. In the end, we hit an impressive maximum stable bus speed of 341MHz. The NF4 SLI-DR booted with higher bus speeds, but we couldn't stabilize Windows until we dropped things back down to 341MHz. We should also note that this board fully supports NVIDIA's nTune hardware monitoring and tweaking utility, should you prefer to overclock your system using a Windows based application.