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BIOS and Overclocking

The ASUS N4L-VM DH was tested with the latest version BIOS as of the time of my writing this review (version 303 dated April 25, 2005),

The BIOS of the ASUS N4L-VM DH mainboard is based on AMI’s microcode and has the same setup interface as other AMI-based BIOS Setups. You can configure the system’s main units here, but that’s not very interesting.

We were more curious about the overclocking options provided by the mainboard, but were somewhat disappointed on that point. Positioned by its manufacturer as a multimedia entertainment center, the mainboard lacks a bulk of overclocking-related options in its current BIOS versions.

In fact, the BIOS Setup only allows changing the FSB frequency, but you have no control over the voltage and frequency multiplier of the CPU. And even this adjustment of the FSB frequency doesn’t work too well. The default FSB frequency of Socket 479 Core Duo and Core Solo processors is 166MHz, but the maximum FSB frequency the ASUS N4L-VM DH remains stable at is only 182MHz. The mainboard just refuses to start up at a higher FSB clock rate.

Besides the option of adjusting the FSB frequency, even though in a very limited range, the mainboard allows changing the voltage of the memory modules. Not quite clearly what for, the BIOS Setup can increase this voltage from the default 1.8V to 2.1V. Besides that, you can manually set up the memory timings here. The memory frequency, however, cannot be changed. It is always set up automatically depending on the SPD information written in the installed DDR SDRAM modules.

All of this means that the ASUS N4L-VM DH mainboard isn’t a playground for overclockers. For example, we could only manage to speed up our Core Duo T2600 from its default 2.16GHz to 2.37GHz by increasing the FSB frequency to the maximum of 182MHz.

So, the maximum frequency growth you can achieve on this mainboard is 10% only – not quite what an overclocker would be satisfied with.

Regrettably, Intel’s Viiv platform is not meant for overclocking at all while the manufacturers of mainboards for multimedia computers do not expect such products can attract PC enthusiasts.

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