Articles: Mainboards

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The Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 mainboard was tested with the BIOS version F6b dating back to October 30, 2007.

The interface of our mainboard’s BIOS Setup is quite traditional. The BIOS is based on Award 6.00PG microcode used in most contemporary mainboards. However, we should give due credit to Gigabyte engineers who managed not only to structure all settings in a very smart manner, but also introduced a few very useful utilities into the BIOS itself. Moreover, Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 mainboard supports Dual BIOS technology that implies the existence of a spare Flash memory chip with a BIOS copy onboard, which saves the day if the main BIOS dies.

Almost all the options dealing with the main system parameters configuration are gathered together in a separate BIOS section called MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.). This particular section will be especially interesting to overclocking fans.

Here you can set the processor clock multiplier and FSB frequency that can vary between 100 and 700MHz with 1MHz increment. Also, you can configure the dynamic CPU overclocking tools that adjust the processor frequency depending on its current workload – C.I.A.2.

BIOS Setup of our mainboard also offers automatic graphics card overclocking technology called Robust Graphics Booster.

The memory subsystem frequency on our board can be set with dividers – juts like on solutions based on previous generation Intel chipsets. Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 offers a full range of FSB:Mem coefficients supported by Intel X38 chipset. Note that FSB Strap frequency is set together with the divider, it is present as a remark to each divider in the corresponding menu section. It is very nice to see the current and new memory frequency right next to FSB:Mem setting spot, as it makes memory configuring much easier.

Note that the new Intel X38 chipset unlike Intel 975X doesn’t have any reducing memory frequency dividers. That is why the memory frequency in Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 based systems cannot be lower than FSB frequency. You should keep it in mind when assembling a platform for overclocking needs.

Next to the DDR2 SDRAM frequency settings there is a menu item called Performance Enhance. It allows you to choose from three available options: Standard, Turbo and Extreme. This setting used to affect the memory subsystem performance significantly on Gigabyte mainboards based on Intel P35 chipset: it adjusted the Performance Level. However, things are different on Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6: it looks like this setting has no effect at all here. At least, not in the currently available BIOS versions.

The fact that Gigabyte changed its attitude to computer users can be seen not only from the changes in the chipset cooling system design. It also found its way into the mainboard BIOS that has no hidden areas on GA-X38-DQ6. All configuration options are available immediately including memory timings that used to be hidden in the previous mainboard models.

The list of adjustable parameters with their supported ranges is given in the table below:

When being configured, the mainboard displays the current parameter values and allows setting the above listed parameters as Auto, which makes the configuration process easier for inexperienced users.

However, if the mainboard wouldn’t boot after you adjusted its settings, it will automatically reset all BIOS settings to defaults. Unfortunately, though, you will get no warning about this measure, the mainboard would just continue booting with non-optimized settings.

As for the voltage adjustment, our mainboard offers the following options:

All voltages except processor Vcore are adjusted as relative values. The actual numbers can only be set for the processor core voltage. There is a very convenient information string showing the actual default voltage for your system CPU right next to the Vcore adjustment field.

BIOS allows increasing the chipset North Bridge and memory voltages by additional 10% for extreme overclocking needs. There you will also find CPU GTL Reference Voltage adjustment options that are very useful during quad-core processor overclocking.

Lowering of actual processor Vcore is a pretty widespread problem that didn’t miss Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 mainboard, too. This unpleasant effect becomes especially visible in case of overclocked quad-core processors. Our measurements performed for Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor working at 3.6GHz showed that in idle mode the processor Vcore turns out about 0.04V lower than the BIOS setting. And in case of full CPU utilization is simply starts varying back and forth. Moreover, the maximum Vdroop may sometimes hit 0.074V. The voltage drop is not as dramatic with dual-core CPUs, however, you shouldn’t disregard this effect during overclocking.

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