Articles: Mainboards

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Memory Overrides page from the Performance section looks very nice at first glance. It allows changing memory frequency, timings, voltage and offers the whole bunch of informational parameters at the bottom of the page: total memory capacity, operational mode and even frequency and timings recorded in the modules SPD for each memory module installed.

However, the functionality of this section may receive a lot of complaints from overclockers. First of all, because there is no Auto setting for every timing. You can either set all of them to Auto, or have to adjust all of them manually. But this is not the biggest issue.

The memory frequency in systems with Intel processors depends on the FSB frequency. In our case the memory frequency is set with two parameters: Reference Frequency and Memory Frequency. Reference Frequency determines the bus speed: 200, 266, 333 or 400MHz. The dividers for the Memory Frequency parameter will change depending on the selected value and the memory speed will be set at 800, 1066, 1333 or 1600MHz. We have four basic FSB frequencies and four resulting memory frequencies, i.e. we have 16 memory dividers that can be used, right? Wrong. Because far not all available dividers are operational.

Intel DX38BT mainboard was among the first solutions on then new Intel X38 Express chipset that we managed to get our hands on. I failed to overclock CPUs on that board and then I spent quite a bit of time trying to get the memory to work at 1600MHz, when the CPU was running at its nominal bus speed of 266MHz. The board did I fact allow setting 1600MHz for any FSB frequency, including 266MHz. Only after I had worked with ASUS Maximus Extreme mainboard on the same chipset I realized that I was shooting for something completely impossible.

ASUS mainboard also allowed setting the memory at 1600MHz, but it raised the FSB speed to 400MHz in this case, and at lower bus frequencies this option simply disappeared at all. Moreover, when the memory frequency changes, you receive a warning that the mainboard may be running unstably with lower memory frequency settings. It certainly indicates that ASUS had significant experience with developing overclocker mainboards and cares about users, which unfortunately is not the case with Intel boards yet.

The problems discovered in the Memory Overrides section do not end with numerous non-operational memory dividers. Suppose that at 200MHz FSB the memory divider for 1600MHz memory frequency does work. How do we find out the resulting memory frequency if we overclock the processor by changing the bus frequency at the same time? As the FSB frequency increases, so does the memory frequency. This section lacks Estimated Memory Speed information field displaying the resulting memory frequency, otherwise, you have to calculate it yourself.

However, I did find this parameter. Although it was located in the very first Main section for some reason. If you go back to that page, you will see that the CPU frequency was 4GHz. You remember that we set the FSB at 500MHz and the multiplier at x8 a little earlier, don’t you?

At this bus speed and memory divider (200/1600) its frequency will reach 4000MHz, as reported by the System Memory Speed Override parameter. We didn’t have to calculate anything. The only inconvenience is that we get the resulting CPU frequency in Processor Overrides section, right where we set it, while the resulting memory frequency is reported outside the Memory Overrides page in the Main section. So, you have to leave the Memory Overrides age and go to Main, and then go back if you need to make any changes. Pretty inconvenient, no one actually needs this info in the Main section. So, looks like the developers didn’t put any thought in it from the overclocker standpoint: here are the dividers, and here are the voltages – now help yourselves.

Scarce functions in the Hardware Monitoring section and non-optimal structure of the Memory Overrides make a very poor impression of the Intel DX48BT2’s BIOS. However, things are not as bad as they may seem. The mainboard boasts advanced Security options and pretty decent Power section, where you can manage the operation of power-saving technologies.

So, little by little we get to the Boot section, which actually contains parameters for boot-up devices management, unlike the Boot Configuration page of the Advanced section:

Disregard the Floppy Drive item, as there is no floppy on this board. However, note that there is a highly important Boot USB Devices First parameter, which a lot of contemporary mainboards still lack these days. It allows booting the system from a USB Flash Drive n matter what device order is selected by the Boot Device Priority parameter. Very useful feature.

It seemed there cannot be anything interesting in the Exit section. It does contain the options for exiting the BIOS Setup with or without saving the changes – exactly what you would expect to see there. However, there are two more useful options called Save Custom Defaults and Load Custom Defaults. They allow saving and then loading desired BIOS settings. You can create only one profile and unfortunately, there is no way to provide it with a detailed and clear description. However, it is good to have at least something like that.

Again, this is not the end yet, although we have already gone through pretty much all the BIOS Setup sections. There is one more hidden page called Maintenance. When we talked about the PCB of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard, we mentioned a configuration jumper. The thing is that Intel DX48BT2 doesn’t have the traditional Clear CMOS jumper. If the configuration jumper is in its default position, the board would boot normally and you can access the BIOS by pressing F2. If you remove the jumper, the mainboard switches to BIOS restoring mode, which will be very helpful if the last BIOS reflashing failed or was interrupted. If you switch the jumper, the mainboard will access the BIOS upon boot-up and get you to the Maintenance page right away.

It is pretty convenient. If the board cannot boot as a result of over-overclocking, we don’t have to reset all parameters. Just switch the configuration jumper to boot the board is safe mode after saving all the settings that can now be corrected. Really, Clear CMOS is an anachronism, which should be eliminated already.

So, at this point we can conclude that the BIOS of Intel DX48BT2 mainboard doesn’t look common, its organization is not always clear and logical, however, all basic overclocking options are there, so it is time we checked them out in practice.

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