The CPU temperature is measured via the integrated thermal diode that guarantees high precision of readings. There is also a special technology for reducing the noise level called Smart Fan. It slows down the rotation speeds of the CPU and chipset fans when the system temperature is low. Smart Fan is activated in the BIOS and doesn’t require any special software. Unfortunately, the nForce3 150 doesn’t allow using Cool’n’Quiet technology, which would fit in nicely.
The BIOS is based on the Award microcode with some interesting innovations. First, there is the exclusive DualBIOS technology. The BIOS is stored in two flash-memory chips, the main one and the backup. If the main version becomes corrupted, you can restore it from the backup chip. Second, there is that Xpress Recovery utility that can backup and restore the boot partition of the hard disk drive in a hidden HDD area.
The BIOS Setup is arranged according to Gigabyte’s traditions: you have to press Ctrl + F1 keys in order to access memory fine-tuning options. However, even with those advanced settings, we don’t have enough control over the memory subsystem. Some important fine-tuning options are missing, although all basic ones are present: CAS Latency, RAS# to CAS# Delay, RAS# Precharge and Active to Precharge Delay. Like most mainboards reviewed today, this one doesn’t support ECC enabling.
The BIOS Setup also offers an intriguing option called Top Performance that can be Enabled or Disabled. However, when we tried playing with it, we discovered that it simply increases the FSB clock-rate by 5%, that is, we have trivial overclocking here.
CPU configuring and overclocking options are pretty typical. The supported FSB frequency range starts at 200MHz and goes up to 300MHz with 1MHz increment. The Vcore is changeable from 0.8V to 1.55V with 0.025V increment and from 1.55V to 1.7V with 0.05V increment. Thus, the maximum voltage the Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP can send to the CPU is only 0.2V above the nominal. Some hardcore overclockers may find this disappointing. The AGP/PCI frequency is set up independently, from 66MHz to 100MHz. This feature (thanks to the nForce3 150) helps you overclock the processor bus without bothering about your PCI and AGP devices. At the same time, it is impossible to change the CPU clock frequency multiplier, although it is not locked in the currently available Athlon 64 3200+.
The memory voltage can also be adjusted (raised by 0.1V, 0.2V or 0.3V above the nominal) as well as the HyperTransport bus voltage (the same 0.1V, 0.2V, 0.3V above the nominal).
The BIOS can automatically reset the parameters of the CPU and memory if the system cannot go through the POST. This is good, since the GA-K8NNXP, like other mainboards from Gigabyte, doesn’t have a Clear CMOS jumper.
Summing it up, I would say that the Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP is remarkable product with rich features list, which has every chance to find its way into high-end systems. Still, you should keep it in mind that it has only two SerialATA ports, but also two LAN controllers. In conclusion I have to mention that this mainboard is also listed among the recommended ones on the official AMD website.