BIOS and Overclocking
The BIOS of the Chaintech VNF4 Ultra VE is based on the microcode from Award-Phoenix and has the traditional interface thereof. The BIOS Setup program has everything necessary to configure the buses and peripherals.
Besides that, Chaintech implemented a curious technology, which we haven’t seen in mainboards from other manufacturers. The idea behind this technology, which for some reason hasn’t got any loud individual name from Chaintech’s marketing folks, implies that the POST codes are displayed in the top right corner of the screen as the computer is passing the Power-On Self Test. Thus, the BIOS of the reviewed mainboard features a kind of “software POST-controller” with the obvious advantages for the user: you receive a powerful diagnostics tool without having to pay much for its hardware implementation. This solution is inferior to hardware POST controllers in one thing only: you can’t get any POST codes until the graphics card has been initialized. But considering the price of the mainboard we have no desire to criticize the technology for this insignificant drawback.
Now let’s see what Chaintech offers to overclockers:
As the screenshots show, we’ve got the following overclocking-friendly options here:
- The frequency of the clock generator which is used to form the CPU clock rate can be adjusted from 200 to 400MHz with 1MHz increment (or 0.5MHz in the 200-210MHz range);
- The frequency of the PCI Express bus can be varied from 100 to 145MHz with 1MHz increment;
- The CPU multiplier can be reduced below its default, down to 4x;
- The CPU voltage can be adjusted from 1.475 to 1.7V with 0.025V increment (at voltages below 1.55V) or 0.05V (at higher voltages);
- The memory voltage can be set to 2.6, 2.7, 2.8 or 2.9V;
- The chipset voltage can be lifted from 1.55V to 1.75V with 0.1V increment.
This is a normal set of standard options, although advanced overclocker-friendly mainboards usually allow adjusting the voltages in a wider range. As for the memory-related settings, they are all found on a separate page of the BIOS Setup.
Here you can set the frequency of the memory modules as well as the basic timings (Tcl, Trcd, Tras, Trp). For some unknown reason, the BIOS Setup of Chaintech VNF4 Ultra VE offers no tools to adjust such an important parameter as 1T/2T Memory Timings. The mainboard controls this setting automatically, setting the value which it thinks proper. Well, we can’t really say it does anything wrong: the mainboard only chose 2T Memory Timings in our tests when the memory worked under harsher conditions than it was intended for by the nominal mode.
As you know from our earlier reviews, the ability to adjust the frequency multiplier of the HyperTransport bus is important for successful overclocking of a system built on nForce4 Ultra-based mainboard. Chaintech VNF4 Ultra VE has an appropriate setting in its BIOS Setup and even more: this mainboard can control the width of the HyperTransport bus.
Thus, the Chaintech mainboard has every prerequisite necessary for successful overclocking. Let’s see how it behaves in practice. We took an Athlon 64 3800+ processor (its default frequency is 2.4GHz) and reduced its multiplier to 8x. For the memory not to limit our overclocking we dropped its frequency to the values it is guaranteed to support.