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

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BIOS and Overclocking - ASUS M2N32 WS Pro

BIOS Details - ASUS M2N32 WS Pro
Simply Layout, Loaded with Options

The ASUS M2N32 WS Pro was outfitted with a Phoenix AwardBIOS Setup Utility.  The menus system was multi layered, in a tree structure.  While this BIOS lacks a single menu with key performance options in one location, the structure of the menu system was laid out in an intuitive way that made it easy to find most of the settings we were looking for.

   

Under the Advanced menu was the JumperFree Configuration screen which offered the bulk of overclocking options available.  The AI Tuning menu defaults to an Auto setting, which allows the system to handle all overclocking options on its own.  The AI Overclock option utilizes specific profiles that overclocks the system either 3, 5, 8 or 10%.  If AI Tuning is set for AI N.O.S., the BIOS overclocks the system on the fly based on system load. This option is also adjustable from 3, 5, 8 or 10%.  When AI Tuning is set to Manual, additional configuration options become available for user specific inputs.

   

CPU Frequency was adjustable from 200-400MHz in 1 MHz increments.  Like the GIGABYTE board, these values could not be keyed in directly.  There were individual clock settings available for each of the two PCI Express x16 slots, ranging from 100-200MHz in 1MHz increments.  The DDR2 Voltage was adjustable from 1.8v up to 2.5v while CPU voltage ranged from .8-1.25v.  The CPU Multiplier ranged from 5x-12x and defaulted to Auto.  Under the Advanced Voltage Control, a nice collection of additional options for VCORE, HT Link and other options became available.

   

To configure the DRAM settings, we need to look under the CPU Configuration Menu.  Here we found exceptionally detailed memory options that were broken down into categories.  Standard Clock and CAS options were available, with Memory Frequency adjustable from 400, 533, 667 and 800MHz, CAS Latency, RAS to CAS and RAS Precharge were all adjustable from 3, 4, 5 and 6 while TRAS ranged from 5-18.  Beyond these settings were three advanced menu choices, Advanced Memory Settings, DRAM Timing Control and Output Driver Control.  In each instance, these menus were loaded with extensive performance options that were simply too numerous to cover.  The bottom row of pictures gives a clear synopsis of what is available.  While it is rare to knock a product for giving an broad selection of performance settings, we have to wonder if perhaps these options are a bit overkill.  After reviewing all of the options available, we have to question the usefulness of so many settings specific to memory performance. 

Overclocking - ASUS M2N32 WS Pro
Top-End Results

Overclocking the M2N32 WS Pro was a bit less graceful than the Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5, however, the outcome was much better.  A strong point for the Gigabyte board is it always intelligently bailed itself out of a bad overclock.  With the ASUS board, we routinely had to power down and do a cold start. 

Max Overclock 4X HT Link
390MHz
Max Overclock 5X HT Link
310MHz

Like with the Gigabyte board, we dropped the CPU multiplier to x5 and locked the memory at DDR2400.  Next, we upped the CPU clock as high as 245MHz before hitting any instability whatsoever.  From there, all we has to do was set our DDR2 memory to 2v manually and we managed to peak at 390MHz with no other adjustments, although the HT link did throttle itself down to 4x.  At this speed, however, we gained no performance advantages with our CPU, since raising the multiplier even one notch, to x6, resulted in the system not posting. 

Next, we locked the HT Link at x5 and tried for the highest CPU clock again.  This time we managed a peak clock speed of 310MHz.  Next, we raised the multiplier as high as possible, resulting in a top setting of 9x.  This resulted in a peak CPU speed of 2.79GHz over the stock Athlon X2 4600+'s 2.4GHz. 

In one final test, the HT Link was set to Auto and the CPU multiplier raised to its default x12.  Next, the CPU frequency was raised to see the maximum CPU speed achievable in this configuration.  In the end, the test bed topped out at a CPU clock of 230MHz, pushing the CPU to 2.76GHz, in the ballpark of the maximum speeds we've seen with this processor.

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

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