Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI - BIOS and Overclocking
Since Abit builds Fatal1ty products with gamers in mind, we expected to see at least decent tweaking options in the BIOS. We weren't disappointed. While it's not the most robust BIOS we've ever seen, this Phoenix AwardBIOS derivative is more than adequate.
When we first entered the BIOS, we were struck by the red screen. It's a nice change from the typical blue BIOSes we are used to. Plus, it adds to the overall Fatal1ty theme quite nicely.
The first option in the BIOS is the SoftMenu Setup, and this happens to be where most of the magic can happen. In the SoftMenu Setup menu, you can adjust the front-side bus (FSB), multiplier, FSB:memory ratio, memory speed, and voltages. All of these settings are essential to achieving a boast-worthy overclock. As you can see in the third shot below, the FSB can be adjusted from 400MHz to 3000MHz (note that FSB is shown as quad data rate or QDR).
The BIOS's voltage control includes the following adjustable voltages: CPU Core, DDR2, DDR2 REF, CPU VTT, and NB (northbridge). The CPU Core voltage can be bumped all the way to 1.7000V, and the DDR2 voltage goes to 2.50V. Those ranges should be adequate for almost every overclocker.
Under the Advanced Chipset Features menu, you can adjust memory timing settings. In addition to the SoftMenu Setup and Advanced Chipset Features, you'll probably want to pay attention to the PC Health Status screen. It allows you to establish some precautionary temperature and fan settings, and it shows you current temperatures and voltages.
Overclocking with the Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI was not as quick and painless as we had hoped it would be. After several hours of trial and error and clearing the CMOS, we were only able to reach an FSB overclock of 330MHz (1320MHz QDR). This was achieved after setting the multiplier to 6x and bumping the northbridge volage to 1.35V. We tried increasing the northbridge voltage and other voltage settings, but we couldn't even get to the POST screen with a FSB higher than 330MHz.
Although you could achieve some nice performance boosts with a 330MHz FSB, we were left disappointed in our test sample since we've seen a lot of talk where this board hits 400MHz or higher. It just goes to show that not every board performs the same, even if it is the exact same model. Overclocking mileage will always vary.