eVGA X58 3X SLI ReviewZertz - March 8, 2009
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Let's now take a look at the most interesting part of the BIOS, the "Frequency/Voltage Control" sub-menu. This is where the overclocker will want to spend most of his time to get the most out of this eVGA motherboard.
Starting at the top, "Dummy O.C." can be enabled for those who are not keen to fiddle with frequency and voltage settings but still want to get a taste of overclocking. The second option is for the people at the exact opposite, "Extreme Cooling" can be disabled or set to mode 1, for temperatures below 0 Celsius but above -50C or 2 for temperatures below -50C. "CPU Clock Ratio" and "CPU Host Frequency" are self explanatory, they let you choose the processor's multiplier, between 12 and 20, and base clock speed, between 133 MHz and a totally overkill 500.
Before delving into the three sub-menus right above, let's finish the main menu. Those familiar with socket 775 motherboards will be at home with the "MCH Strap" setting. Just as with Core 2, this option changes the northbridge's internal timings. "CPU Uncore Frequency", like its name implies, represents what's inside the processor, but isn't the core itself or level 1 and 2 cache. This means level 3 cache and the memory controller. Stock speed is 2.13 GHz, but fortunately it can clock much higher than that, although 8 GHz might be a bit much. Spread Spectrum should be left disabled unless you're having trouble with EMI, electromagnetic interferences, which you most likely aren't. The PCI-Express clock can be increased as well, it can sometimes help with overclocking video cards, but setting it too high will compromise stability. At the bottom of the page are the handy save and load profile which allow you to save up to eight different configurations.
This is the place to be for tweaking memory. While "Memory Control Setting" can be left disabled and let the motherboard take care of everything, it's much more fun to enable it. First thing you want to set is the memory frequency. The number being shown here is based on a 133 MHz base clock, so eVGA also displays the actual divider so you can do the math yourself. Plenty of ratios can be selected, starting from 2:6, 800 MHz, up to 2:30, 4000 MHz. Then, there are a plethora of timings and sub-timings to be adjusted. Most of us will probably just tweak the first six, but eVGA has made a ton of timings available for tweaking if you're seeking for every last bit of performance.
This is the tricky part. First of all, VDroop Control. This can be set at "With VDroop", which doesn't compensate for load current draw so core voltage will drop when the processor is under load. The other choice, "Without VDroop" will calibrate the power regulators so voltage remains the same while the system is either idle or loaded. Next up is VCore, extreme overclockers will be happy to know it can be set up to 2.3V and normal people will appreciate the 62.5mV increments. CPU VTT has a default value of 1.1V on the eVGA board and can be increased in 10mV steps, this is the integrated memory controller's voltage so it has a huge role when overclocking memory or running high base clocks. Third in line is CPU PPL, which is the main clock generator, this one can be left at the default 1.8V as increasing it doesn't provide any benefits.
DIMM Voltage is quite obvious and can adjusted in 25mV increments and up to 3.075V for those who aren't faint of heart, or maybe just crazy. I couldn't find much use for "DIMM DQ Vref" and, thus, ended up leaving at 0mV all the time. Right under is QPI PLL VCore which is quite a bit more important. This is the main voltage used to unlock higher base clock frequency, 1.4V was required to hit 200 MHz, although it can vary between boards and processors.
Next up is the IOH VCore, this one needs to be increased in order to reach high base clocks, mine took 1.45V past 210 MHz. The next two, IOH/ICH I/O Voltage and ICH VCore didn't lead to any improvements in frequency past their stock settings. Lastly, PWM Frequency can be set to either 800, 933 or 1066 KHz and is said to help in reaching high clocks, but I couldn't notice much of difference. The main thing it does is make the voltage regulators hotter than they already are.
This is the place to disable Intel's power saving technology, SpeedStep, as well as Turbo Mode and a few others. You can also disable HyperThreading and only leave a single core enabled which can help achieve very high overclocks. Lastly, QPI can be set in either fast or slow mode, the latter sometimes enabling higher clocks.
That's it for eVGA's BIOS. Let's move on to what you've been waiting for - overclocking.