NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI for AMD Round Up: GIGABYTE, MSI and ASUS

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BIOS and Overclocking - GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5


Ample Choices, Awkward Layout

In terms of the overall feature set of the GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5's BIOS, we found that GIGABYTE covered the bases nicely.  One issue that was a major annoyance however, was that the Advanced Chipset Features were hidden and could only be revealed by pressing Ctrl-F1 together.  What the logic is behind this escapes us.  It is understandable to do this with overclocking options, but the Advanced Chipset feature mainly houses a plethora of advanced memory settings.  While not an earth shattering design flaw, this configuration did prove to be a bit of a nuisance during the overclocking phase of this review.


When looking for the most important performance settings in the BIOS, the bulk of these options were located in the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) menu.  Here the CPU frequency could be adjusted from 100 to 500MHz in increments of 2MHz while the Northbridge to Southbridge clock ranged from 200 to 500MHz, starting off as .5MHz increments up to 210MHz, then it jumped to 1MHz stepping up to 230MHz and 2MHz increments on up.  Both the PCIE Clock (NB) and PCIE Clock (SB) ranged from 100-200MHz in 1MHz increments.  Additionally, the CPU clock ratio ranged from 5 to 12X.


Shifting focus to voltage options, the BIOS offered DDRII Overvoltage options of +.1v through +.7v.  Southbridge Chipset/PCIE, CPU HT-Link, HT-Link and Northbridge Chipset/PCIE voltage were all adjustable from +.1, +.2 and +.3v.  CPU Voltage Control ranged from .8v through 1.55v in increments of .0250v. 


Aside from the Ctrl-F1 issue, we also found it tedious that certain fields could not be keyed in directly.  When adjusting the CPU Frequency, for example, it took forever to scroll through the available choices using the up/down arrows, two MHz at a time.  Ideally, all fields should have the option to be scrolled or directly keyed in at any time but again these are minor gripes with what we found to be a very comprehensive BIOS. 

Overclocking - GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5
It Could Be Better, But it's Not Bad

Overclocking the Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5 was a bit of a challenge, but in the end, our results were decent. With the CPU multiplier set to x5 and the memory locked at 400MHz, we raised the CPU clock in 5MHz increments until the system would not post.  By reducing the memory and CPU speeds, we can be sure that any failure to overclock was not due to thresholds being exceeded with the memory or CPU. 

Max Overclock 4X HT Link
Max Overclock 5X HT Link

The highest CPU clock we hit was 280MHz with the HT Link set at x5.  Next, the multiplier was raised to see what peak CPU speed could achieved.  Ultimately, the maximum multiplier setting was x10, raising our 2.4GHz AMD Athlon X2 4600+ to a top speed of 2.8GHz, which equates to a 16.66% increase overall. 

Next, we dropped the HT Link to x4 and managed to tack on a modest 14MHz, raising our results to 294MHz.  No combination of voltage/frequency adjustments yielded any results higher than these final readings.  Additionally, raising the CPU multiplier to x6 with this setting resulted in a failed overclock.

Rounding out the overclocking segment, with the HT Link set to Auto and the multiplier set to its default 12x, the CPU clock was raised.  The top speed recorded with this particular board was a CPU clock of 234MHz, pushing the CPU speed to 2.81GHz, a gain of 17.08% over stock clock speeds.

Tags:  Nvidia, AMD, Asus, MSI, nforce, Gigabyte, sli, MS, force, id, AM, and

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