Articles: Mainboards

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Then come two sections with almost standard functionality: “Power Management Setup” and “PnP/PCI Configurations”, so we won’t dwell on them here.

We have already mentioned that “PC Health Status” section can’t offer us satisfactory voltage control tools. The argument that it used to be even worse before, is barely encouraging, we really want to have full access to all parameters here and now. However, this section does have a few advantages worth mentioning. We can control the rotation speed of all four fans that can be connected to the board. But most importantly, Gigabyte mainboards can adjust the rotation speed of any fans! To adjust the rotation speed of a four-pin processor fan depending on the CPU temperature you should set the “CPU Smart FAN Mode” parameter to “PWM”, and for three-pin fans – to “Voltage”. At this time Gigabyte mainboards are almost the only mainboards out there that support this, although there are still a lot of fans with three-pin connectors out there these days.

Unfortunately, we have to slightly spoil the impression here. By default, Gigabyte mainboards offer very aggressive fan rotation speed management. As a result, the processor fan doesn’t rotate at all most of the time. Quiet system is great, but the board reports much lower quad-core processor temperature for some reason, and it is the temperature readings that determine the fan rotation speed. As a result, if you enabled “CPU Smart FAN Control”, the fan stops and never rotates again. In this case the mainboard cooling system heats up a lot and an additional heatsink will certainly be a good thing to have. You should better resort to software adjustment and Gigabyte EasyTune6 utility can offer you the tools to do it. I wish it could be possible to set the desired CPU temperature intervals with the corresponding fan rotation speeds.

So, we have checked out all major BIOS Setup sections, but that is not all Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard has to offer. By pressing F11 you can save all BIOS settings in one of the 8 available profiles and name it accordingly. You can load the desired profile later: just access the list by pressing F12. The current settings are saved automatically after each successful system start, so you can always go back to one of the recent configurations, even if you haven’t saved it. Unfortunately, you will lose all your profiles if you reflash the BIOS.

By the way, if you used Clear CMOS button or jumper, but didn’t access the BIOS to adjust the settings, the board will display the following menu, similar to what you will see by pressing F12. This way you will be able to select the desired profile even without entering the BIOS.

By pressing F9 you get system info report:

You can also press F8 in the main menu to open Q-Flash utility for reflashing the BIOS. You can update the BISO using various media, but the base BIOS version is available on the DVD disk bundled with the board.

However, you don’t really need to access the BIOS to launch this utility. When you start the system, you see a start-up image reminding you of the major functional keys: “End” – Q-Flash launch, “F12” – boot menu, etc.

If you disabled the startup image, you will see the POST (Power-On Self-Test) progress, but the functional keys are still working.

I have to mention one more issue I uncovered that is closely connected with a great advantage: the board very carefully monitors startup POST. If the booting is interrupted for some reason, the board would automatically restart in safe mode, but all the BIOS settings will be saved.  Clear CMOS button on the back panel is extremely convenient, but I didn’t have to use it even once throughout the entire test session. The downside is that the user is not informed about transition to safe mode; the board doesn’t stop, and continues loading the OS as if nothing happened. Only when you access “MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.)” BIOS section you will receive a late message:

Of course, if you disabled the startup image, you may notice that processor frequency is lower and have just enough time to press “Del” to enter the BIOS. During the test session I ended up telling by sounds if it was a successful start or the parameters have been reset. However, it could be much more convenient if Gigabyte mainboards behaved a little more correctly and informed the user of their actions, like the other manufacturers’ solutions.

So, the BIOS of Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard designed by human beings is not totally ideal. However, it still has more advantages than drawbacks, offers a pleasing variety of options and is very convenient to work with. Now it is high time we checked out how well the board can overclock CPUs.

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