MSI Eclipse SLI Reviewccokeman - December 22, 2008
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The Cell Menu section of the BIOS is where you can adjust the performance parameters and overclock your CPU and system memory. There are plenty of options to choose from to gain additional performance through overclocking your installed hardware. Voltages, skew settings memory timings and more can be found here. If you plan on running your system at stock speeds these settings will remain untouched but for those that like to tinker and push the limits, the settings are there to do so.
At the top of this section you are given a quick snapshot of the current CPU, memory and QPI frequencies. First on the list is the CPU specifications option. This gives a run down of the technical specs of the processor installed into the Eclipse. The one used in this review is the I7 965 Extreme.
The EIST function can be set to either on off or automatic to let the system best decide how this function should work. Intel C-State technology is used to manage the power savings of the Intel Core I7 at idle. When enabled there are several more options that become available to configure the system to maximize the energy savings.
Intel Turbo Boost Technology can be enabled or disabled and configured to deliver a small overclock by adjusting the configuration based on the processor installed. The Core I7 920 and 940 have the multiplier locked at 20 and 22, respectively, but the Turbo Boost technology ups this by one or two depending on CPU loading and to get the maximum benefit in single threaded applications. This dynamic clock control offers a nice little performance boost when enabled.
QPI Link Speed and Frequency are both adjustable. The Link speed can be set to full speed or slow mode and the QPI Link Speed is dependent on the CPU installed. The Core I7 965 Extreme has a maximum of 6.400GT
Memory Z gives you the SPD information on the DIMMs installed in the system as well as giving you the option to view the XMP profile information. Advanced DRAM Configuration is where you can manually configure the system memory timings to maximize the performance of the system memory to get the most from your system. The Memory ratio sets the multiplier for the memory. To calculate the final memory speed you would multiply this number times two, times the Bclock frequency to get the final speed. In this case the multiplier is 5 x 2 x the Bclock of 133, giving us a memory speed of 1333MHz.
The Clock Gen tuner allows you to set the the amplitude and skew settings for the CPU and the IOH or X58 chipset. These are settings that you can use to fine tune your overclock to get those last few MHz.
Moving to the voltage options you can see that there are quite a few that can be adjusted. Instead of inputting the requested voltage, MSI has made it so that you must increase the voltage above the base voltage for the components. While this system works, you must know the base voltage level so that you do not overvolt a component. The voltages are color coded as you increase the offset voltage but it is still best to know the base voltage. Voltage on the CPU can be increased to a maximum of +630mv, the QPI up to an offset of +630mv.The PLL volts and Dram voltages do give the actual voltage with the maximum possible of 2.43 volts on the PLL and 2.77 volts on the sytem memory. Quite a large increase over the Intel specified maximum of 1.65 volts. Under the memory voltage is a long list of DDR reference voltages, these allow you to adjust a voltage offset by memory module in case you have a single module that may benefit from additional voltage. Both the north and southbridges can be overvolted. The IOH can be pushed to a max of 1.73 volts with the ICH adjustable to 2.13 volts. All of these voltages are quite a bit out of spec but to get the most from your components, you have to push the limits sometimes.
Now let's see what the Eclipse has to offer in the way of performance when compared to one of its peers as well as the previous generation's top performers.