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BIOS and Overclocking

The BIOS of MSI K8N Diamond is based on the microcode from Award-Phoenix and differs but slightly from the BIOSes of similar products. There are all the necessary options in the BIOS Setup to configure the mainboard and its integrated controllers. We’d like to note that there are no options to set the SLI mode: everything is set on the hardware level (by the SLI Switch card) with the help of the driver.

Let’s get right to the overclocking-related options which are located on a separate page in the BIOS Setup (its name, Cell Menu, must have been called in honor of the CoreCell chip that’s responsible for overclocking and monitoring on the mainboard).

Here you can do the following:

  • The frequency of the clock generator can be adjusted from 200 to 400MHz with 1MHz increment. The BIOS Setup also allows reducing this frequency to 190MHz;
  • The frequency of the PCI Express bus can be independently adjusted from 100 to 145MHz with 1MHz increment;
  • The CPU frequency multiplier can be reduced below the default; the minimal value is 4x;
  • The frequency multiplier of the HyperTransport bus can be set to 1x, 1.5x, 2x, 2.5x, 3x, 4x, and 5x. The width of the bus can be set to 8 or 16 bits in any direction;
  • The CPU voltage can be varied in the 0.825-1.55V range with 0.025V increment. There’s another parameter in the BIOS Setup that allows increasing the voltage by 3.3%, 5.0% or 8.3%;
  • The memory voltage can be selected manually: from 2.5 to 2.85V with 0.05V increment;
  • The chipset voltage can be increased from the default 1.5V to 1.85V with 0.05V increment.

This is overall a sufficient menu of options. The mainboard even permits to considerably lift up the voltage on the memory and the chipset, which can be useful during extreme overclocking. The CPU voltage range is somewhat narrow, however. The maximum core voltage you can set is 1.68V – overclockers might think it is too low.

We should also note that the BIOS Setup of the MSI K8N Diamond, as well as BIOSes of other mainboards of this manufacturer, features Dynamic Overclocking Technology (D.O.T.). The point of this D.O.T. is in increasing the frequency of the clock generator above the default when the CPU load is 100 percent. The user can set up the value of this overclocking to 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11% of the default frequency of the clock generator (200MHz).

As for the memory timings, there is hardly any board out there to compete with MSI K8N Diamond in this respect. The BIOS Setup allows configuring the basic timings Tcl, Trcd, Tras, Trp, but also controlling the 1T/2T Memory Timings mode and adjusting a number of secondary parameters of the memory subsystem. The memory-related settings are found on a separate page in the BIOS Setup where you can also select the memory frequency from a wide range of values: 100, 120, 133, 140, 150, 166, 180 and 200MHz.

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