Gigabyte GA-X58-USB3 Reviewgotdamojo06 - January 30, 2011
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If you are reading this review, then most likely you know exactly what the BIOS of your motherboard is used for; however, if you don't, then you are going to want to read this section pretty carefully as it does explain what each screen you may encounter is and what it does to your system. There are two main reasons for going into the BIOS, the first is to setup your computer to make sure you have your hard drives booting in the order you wish. The other main reason that someone may find themselves in the BIOS is to overclock their computer, as overclocking through the BIOS will give you the most stable overclock as opposed to overclocking through the operating system.
The first screen when navigating the BIOS is the BIOS Main Screen. From here you are going to be able to navigate to the other screens where you can change any of the settings you may want to. At the bottom of the main screen is a list of functions that you can do such as press Esc to quit, F8 to enter Q-Flash, arrow keys to move around, F10 to save and exit, F11 to save CMOS to BIOS, and F12 to load CMOS to BIOS. The first menu that I want to take a look at is the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.). This screen is where you are going to go to begin overclocking your system. When you go in this screen, you are going to see more sub menus, as well as some current status of your system at the bottom of the screen such as your BIOS Version, the current BCLK, CPU Frequency, Memory Frequency, Total Memory Size, CPU Temperature, Vcore and DRAM Voltages. To see more detailed current status you are going to enter the first submenu called M.I.T. Current Status. When you select into the Advanced Frequency Settings menu, you are going to see the first section of where you are going to tweak settings to overclock different aspects of your system.
The first value that you can change is your CPU Clock Ratio (if it is unlocked, you are going to be able to raise it but if not you can only lower the multiplier). You are going to get a pop up when you press enter with the value selected, this is where you are going to be able to key in what value you wish to set, you can see it gives you 12 as a minimum and 21 as a maximum. There is a submenu here that you can go into called Advanced CPU Core Features, this is where you are going to enable or disable Intel Turbo Boost Tech, you are also going to be able to enable all four cores of the processor or select which core you wish to use if you only want one enabled. You can turn off the CPU Multi-Threading technology here as well if you wish to. CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E) is a seating that helps with saving power by lowering the CPU clock speed and voltages during the system halt state to help save power. C3/C6/C7 State Support is another power saving features that once again lowers your CPU clock and voltage settings when different system halt states are active to once again save power, but this feature is more advanced than C1E. CPU Thermal Monitor is the setting that you are going to either enable or disable that will monitor the CPU temperature and when the CPU is overheating, the CPU clock speeds and voltages will be reduced to protect the chip. CPU EIST Function is a setting that is going to control the Intel SpeedStep feature, which is going to lower your CPU clock speeds and voltages during lower CPU usage to reduce not only power but heat production. The final setting on this page is the BI-Directional PROCHOT; when this setting is enabled the CPU or chipset will be able to detect that overheating is occurring and will send a signal will be sent to lower the CPU performance to decrease heat production. If the setting is disabled, that will only allow the CPU to detect whether an overheating is occurring. Press the ESC button to back out of this submenu and get back to the Advanced Frequency Settings page. You are also going to be able to change your QPI Clock Ratio. The options are Auto, x36, x44, x48, and Slow Mode as your choices. When you choose which one you want, the QPI Link Speed will automatically update on this screen to let you know what your new selection will adjust it to. The Uncore Clock Ratio is the next setting you are going to be able to change. Your choices are from between Auto and x12 to x48. You are going to want to keep your Uncore Frequency around 2x of your memory speeds. The Base Clock, or BCLK as many people refer to it, is where you are going to get into the fun part of overclocking. This multiplied by your multiplier is going to specify your CPU Frequency (ex. 133 x 20 = 2.66 GHz). You are going to be able to change the BCLK anywhere from 100MHz and 600MHz.
The System Memory Multiplier is the setting that you are going to change to get your memory speeds. The options are Auto, 6x, 8x, 10x, 12x, 14x, 16x, and 18x. The Advanced Clock Control is for more seasoned overclockers and enables achievement of a stable overclock when you are looking to gain every last single MHz. The first setting is the CPU Clock Drive. This setting allows adjustment of the amplitude of the CPU and Chipset Clock. The settings available are 700mV, 800mV, 900mV, and 1000mV with 800mV being the default setting. The PCI Express Clock Drive allows the user to set the amplitude of the PCI Express and Chipset clock, with the same options as the CPU Clock Drive (however, 900mV being the default setting). You can set the CPU Clock Skew towards the bottom, which allows you to set the CPU clock prior to the Chipset clock. The IOH Clock Skew allows the user to set the North Bridge clock prior to the CPU clock. Both of these settings have values between 0ps and 750ps, in multiples of 50ps with a default of 0ps.
You can overclock your memory or set your memory settings by goiing back to the MIT screen and selecting the Advanced Memory Settings menu. The first option is the Extreme Memory Profile - this is an option you may choose to use to have the factory default timings and other settings loaded for you based on what kind of memory you have installed in your system. If it is set to disabled, you set the settings manually. The System Memory Multiplier on this screen again, even though you can set it under the Advanced Frequency Settings screen. As you can see, the options are all the same as the previous screen. The next setting on this screen is the Performance enhance. There are three options here: Standard, which lets the system operate at its basic performance level; Turbo, which lets the system operate at good performance level; Extreme, which lets the system operate at its best performance level. The DRAM timing Selectable setting enables the user to adjust the memory settings at three levels: Auto, Quick, or Expert. Auto will lock the manual adjustments to be made, Quick will allow your basic memory timings, and Expert will unlock all of your timings to be changed. You can clock into Channel A/B/C Timing settings, which are where you are going to be able to adjust all of your RAM timings and the Channel A/B/C Turnaround settings, which provide access to the Turnaround settings.
By selecting the Advanced voltage Settings from the MIT screen, a screen appears that allows you to change all of the different voltage settings of your system. Default values for all settings on this page are Auto; directly to the left of all of the changeable values are what the default settings are. The first setting on this page is the Load-Line Calibration. This setting allows the user to compensate for the vdroop. The second setting is your CPU Vcore. This is your CPU core voltage. Dynamic Vcore is only adjustable when your CPU Vcore is set to normal and allows you to add a little bit of Vcore to your stock CPU Vcore. You are going to get QPI/VTT, CPU PLL, PCIE, QPI LL, IOH Core, ICH I/O, ICH Core, DRAM Voltage, DRAM Termination, CH-A/B/C Data VRef, and CH-A/B/C Address VRef settings that you can control. Back on the Main MIT screen, the final menu is the Miscellaneous Settings. Here you only have two settings that can be changed - Isochronous Support and Virtualization Technology. Isochronous Support will be able to determine whether to enable specific streams within the CPU and chipset. The default setting is Enabled, with the only other option as disabled. Virtualization Technology will enable to disable Intel Virtualization Technology, which will allow a system to run multiple operating systems and applications in independent platforms.
The standard CMOS Features screen allows the user to change the date and time, as well as view the different hard drives and optical drives which may be installed. You are also going to see the Halt On option here. This setting is going to allow you to determine if the system will stop for any errors, no errors, or all errors except for a keyboard error. If you click into a hard drive you have installed in your system to manually set it, you are going to get the IDE Channel Slave option as well as the Access Mode settings. You will also see the Capacity of the drive as well as some other features of the drive listed such as the Cylinder, Head, Precomp, Landing Zone, and Sector. The advanced BIOS Features is where you are going to be able to set the Hard Disk Boot Priority, as well as the First, Second, and Third Boot Devices. On this screen you can enable or disable the Quick Boot feature, or set the Password Check. You can also change the HDD SMART Capabilities, limit CPUID Max to 3, No-Execute Memory Protect, Delay for HDD (in seconds), Full Screen Logo Show, Backup BIOS Image to HDD, as well as set which video card is going to get your Initial Display if you have more than one card installed.
The integrated Peripherals screen is where you are going to be able to enable or disable different features of the motherboard. The Extreme Hard Drive setting is going to enable or disable function of the SATA controllers integrated in the Intel ICH10R chipset. ICH SATA Control Mode is where RAID selection in the BIOS can be dealt with. Other devices to enable or disable are the USB controllers on the board as well as the LAN controller. Clicking into the SMART LAN submenu shows the status of a LAN cable attached to the motherboard. Under the Power Management Setup menu, users can set different power functions such as how the computer is turned on - Power on by Mouse or Keyboard, which would allow the computer to be turned on by a random keyboard button press or mouse click. The PC Health Status screen displays the current Vcore, DRAM voltages, +3.3V, +5V and +12V status of your power supply, System Temperature, CPU Temperature, and MCH temperature. Your CPU Fans, System Fan2, Power Fan, and System Fan1 speeds are going to be listed on this page as well. You can also set your CPU Warning temperature.
Back on the Main BIOS screen, on the right hand side of the screen you are going to have listed your Load Fail-Safe Defaults, Load Optimized Defaults, Set Supervisor Password, Set User Password, Save & Exit Setup, and Exit without saving. Any one of these menus will pop up with a red popup asking you for an input if you wish to carry out the command you are attempting to select. For the passwords, you will get a text input box where you can set the password that you may want installed on the motherboard. The Supervisor password is what is going to be required to go into the BIOS and the User password will need to be typed in before the system can pass the POST screen.
Now that we know what the BIOS looks like and where all the settings are located, it's time to get to our testing setup, lineup of different benchmarks, and overclocking.