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BIOS

During our discussion of the mainboard design and its features we have already mentioned several times that it is pretty ordinary that is why it belongs to the mainstream price segment. However, it doesn’t mean that ASUS P5Q Pro will not suit for computer enthusiasts. It is not surprising that hardware manufacturers stuff their high-end solutions with all sorts of useless extras trying to drive hardcore computer users’ attention to their most expensive products. However, experienced overclockers will not let these marketing tricks mislead them and very often go for much less pricy solutions.

This is the case with ASUS P5Q Pro. The board is not so “loaded” like ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe, for instance, however, it offers all the necessary BIOS functionality for successful CPU overclocking. Moreover, another proof that P5Q Pro has been recognized by the overclocking community is existence of numerous alternative BIOS versions improved and enhanced by the board owners independently. For example, here you can download unofficial BIOS versions with extended support for new processors and improved memory stability.

We picked a BIOS version like that for our tests of ASUS P5Q Pro. It was modified BIOS version 1104 created by Kentxxx. Note that this BIOS version seems to have no visual differences from the official one that is why everything we will say about it in our review may also refer to the official BIOS version 1104.

ASUS P5Q Pro BIOS is based on AMI micro-code and has traditional Setup interface. Most settings dealing with the system performance are gathered in Ai Tweaker section:

There are options for manual adjustment of the processor clock frequency multiplier and FSB frequency that can vary from 200MHz to 800MHz. Then you can adjust PCI Express bus frequency in the interval from 100MHz to 180MHz. the memory frequency is not so flexible, because Intel P45 Express chipset sued for ASUS P5Q Pro clocks the memory using FSB-related dividers. The list of supported dividers is the same for all latest Intel chipsets and depends on FSB Strap that can also be adjusted in the BIOS Setup. Note that the FSB Strap setting also affects the mainboard stability when we overclock by raising the FSB frequency. Overclocking is evidently most successful when FSB Strap is set at 333MHz or 400MHz, the former setting being preferable from our experience.

The ASUS P5Q Pro BIOS offers extensive list of settings for memory timings configuring. However, the Command Rate option is still missing. Instead there is a new option called Mem. Oc Charger. When activated it changes the mainboard settings to ensure best memory overclocking result. However, do not expect any wonders: insignificant improvement from enabling this parameter can only be seen on selected memory modules, while in majority of cases it will even worse the overall system stability.

I would like to pay special attention to a modified Transaction Booster option. Now it allows adjusting directly the most important North Bridge setting called Performance Level.

The options for voltage adjustment also look good:

The corresponding part of the section includes the following settings:

Parameter

Supported range

CPU Voltage

0.85V - 2.1V with 0.00625V increment

CPU PLL Voltage

1.5V – 2.78V with 0.02V increment

FSB Termination Voltage

1.1V – 1.9V with 0.02V increment

DRAM Voltage

1.8V – 3.08V with 0.02V increment

NB Core Voltage

1.1V – 2.2V with 0.02V increment

SB Core Voltage

1.1V – 1. with 0.1V increment

PCIE SATA Voltage

1.5V – 1.8V В with 0.1V increment

Note that you can only get access to extremely high CPU core and North Bridge voltage settings only once you reset OV_CPU and OV_NB jumpers on the board.

All voltages may be set to Auto, in this case the board will try find the most optimal parameters for the current processor and memory frequency settings. In other words, by setting Auto you allow the board to increase the voltage on its own if the FSB or memory frequency increase beyond their nominal values. This is great help for inexperienced overclockers. However, if you are into more serious things, then manual adjustment is the way to go. Especially since the board tends to set higher values.

Among the voltage settings I would also like to point out an extremely useful option called Loadline Calibration. Thanks to the special design of the processor voltage regulator circuitry, it minimizes Vdroop effect during overclocking.

However, you will not be able to change CPU GTL Voltage Reference independently for the physical processor cores of quad-core CPUs: only top ASUS P5Q solutions support this option.

Well, let’s take a quick look at the remaining pages of the ASUS P5Q Pro BIOS Setup. Advanced section allows configuring chipset parameters, enabling and disabling integrated controllers and USB ports, and managing processor technologies.

Power section as usual has a hardware monitoring sub-section.

Boot page allows setting the order of boot-up devices and set the startup options.

Tools section contains ASUS” traditional utilities: EZ Flash 2 for reflashing the BIOS and O.C. Profile for saving settings profiles. There are also management options for Drive Xpert and Express gate technologies.

 
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