We will definitely dwell on the power-saving abilities of MSI P45 Platinum mainboard during our practical test session, and now let’s move on to the next section called Cell Menu. It contains all overclocking related functionality in a very convenient and illustrative form:
The first two parameters are informational, they report the current CPU and memory frequencies. The new parameter for us is Multi-step OC Booster that also belongs to the RapidBoost Features group. Multi-step overclocking can be performed in two different ways: Mode 1 and Mode 2. In the first case the board starts in nominal mode and speeds up to the set values only when the OS is booting. In the second case the mainboard overclocks only partially during initial boot-up and hits maximum speeds only when OS boots. This way overclockers may avoid any problems caused by over-overclocking at the initial boot-up. As you understand, this multi-step overclocking procedure will not add any stability to the system, but you will still be able to boot the OS and set a few records if the system is destined to fail during POST or a little later.
The next two parameters control processor power-saving technologies. If you disable Intel EIST, you will be able to adjust the CPU clock frequency multiplier and for 45nm CPUs you will also get half-multipliers. Frankly speaking, it is not very convenient that C1E support still has to be enabled/disabled from the CPU Feature sub-section. Adjust CPU FSB Frequency allows increasing the FSB frequency up to 800MHz. The expected CPU frequency resulting from the FSB and multiplier changes will be reported by Adjusted CPU FSB Frequency parameter.
The next group deals with the memory modules operation. Unfortunately, we uncovered the first mistake even before the test session: from the Cell Menu screenshot. FSB/DRAM Ratio parameter is set to Auto, and the informational Adjusted DRAM Frequency parameter reports 1067MHz memory speed. However, in reality the memory works at 800MHz, as you can see from the other informational parameter called Current DRAM Frequency and from Windows diagnostic utilities. At the same time, the board can handle 1067MHz memory frequency, if you select the corresponding memory divider from the list manually:
Enhance Setting parameter appeared only in the last BIOS version 1.3. It is at Auto by default, however you may change it to Enabled or Disabled. According to the explanatory commentary, it will be useful during memory overclocking, especially if it works in dual-channel mode. However, we didn’t detect any visible effect from enabling or disabling this parameter during our practical experiments.
Advance DRAM Configuration leads you to a separate page where you can change the major memory timings:
If you switch Advance Memory Setting to Manual, you will get access to additional timings, separately for each of the channels:
It is very convenient that each parameter may be set to Auto, i.e. we can only change selected timings and leave all others at defaults. It is only a pity there are no current values anywhere to be found. However, the nominal timing settings recorded in the modules SPD can now be viewed with MEMORY-Z parameter.
The board allows reading extensive information on EPP memory modules functionality. However, the modules we used this time do not support this feature, so we won’t be able to learn anything useful here.
By the way, you can check the default timings for all the memory modules at any time and from any BIOS section. Just press F5:
The next group of parameters deals with chipset fine tuning. Auto Disable DRAM/PCI Frequency disables the vacant memory DIMM and PCI slots to reduce the EMI. Adjust PCI Frequency parameter maintains the PCI frequency at its default speed of 33.3MHz. ClockGen Tuner parameter opens an additional menu:
The next parameter group is assigned to processor, memory and chipset voltages. These can be adjusted with variable increments. I wish they also reported the current voltage settings, however, it is good to have high values highlighted in warning red. The supported value intervals are pretty wide:
- CPU Voltage: 0.9675V-1.9175V;
- DRAM Voltage: 1.428V-3.324V;
- MCH Voltage: 0.728V-2.624V;
- VTT FSB Voltage: 0.89V-2.47V;
- ICH Voltage: 0.56V-3.41V.
The very last parameter from the Cell Menu section is Enabled by default. It should eliminate EMI distortions, however, you’d better disable it for the sake of stability during overclocking.
User Settings section allows saving and loading the BIOS settings profiles. Starting with version 1.1 the number of available profiles increased from 2 to 4, although it is still impossible to name them or give a brief description.
So, the BIOS of MSI P45 Platinum can offer us not only basic system configuration options, not only all necessary parameters for successful overclocking, but also a number of unique and rare functions. Among them are the ability to enable/disable power-saving technologies right from the BIOS, multi-step overclocking and ability to check immediately the default timings. There are also a few drawbacks, such as pretty modest monitoring functionality and absence of current default values for the timings and voltages.
Now it is time to check out this board’s potential during our practical experiments.