|Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME P45 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 05 August 2008|
Page 5 of 17
GA-EP45T-EXTREME BIOS (Part 1)
If you're a true hardcore overclocking enthusiast, then chances are good that you'll be mighty concerned about the motherboards BIOS. For years now, I have found the BIOS to be the one factor that manufacturers overlook on their products. All of the heatsinks, heat-pipes, and fan will not offer nearly the control over any decent overclock to the same degree as a well designed BIOS will. For just as many years, I have also been keeping track of who incorporates the good designs, and who doesn't. This experience has made me become very picky about how I like to have the BIOS presented. I recall a previous review where another manufacturer made the entire background pink, and another made it completely yellow. Blue works for me, despite its closeness to the BSOD.
So once you get past the enormous retail box Gigabyte packages theGA-EP45T-EXTREME in, you'll be ready to subject this "extreme" edition motherboard to some seriously harsh overclocking workloads. The very first thing that I advise any hardware enthusiast or overclocker to do is visit the manufacturers website and download the latest BIOS before you ever begin loading the Operating System. The BIOS we used for our configuration was version named "ep45tex.f3b" and was flashed via a USB flash drive before we ever complete our first POST. After successfully uploading the new version "F3" BIOS, we reset the system and began the fun.
Like any good system builder, the first thing I do is set the date and time. After that, it's straight into the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker (MIT) section of this Award BIOS. In the image below, which was created with composite sections of the entire MIT page, you can see how far Gigabyte has come with their BIOS programming... and this is just the main MIT page.
Most of the familiar variables are present and accounted for. Enabling CPU Host Clock Control allows the enthusiast to set their own CPU clock crystal multiplier. along with adjusting the Front Side Bus frequency. You can adjust the PCI Express frequency is you desire, but I suggest keeping it nailed down at 100 MHz since over/under-clocking has shown no positive benefits. Gigabyte includes eXtreme Memory Profile (XMP) functionality on the GA-EP45T-EXTREME motherboard, which I found to be functional in theory but not necessarily in practice. My biggest past complaint with Gigabyte motherboards is the lack of exact voltage specifications for the system memory; also a problem that is now solved with this product release.
Overclocking the CPU was as easy as making a few clicks here and there followed by a restart. It wasn't until I moved on to overclock the RAM that I experienced my first difficulties. In fact, after a whole lot of time spent on the subject, I found it almost impossible to overclock any number of the dozen or more DDR3 system memory kits I had at my disposal. If it wasn't a tricky combination of system memory multipliers matched to obscure MCH frequency latch preferences, it was the unfamiliar DRAM voltage variables. At the end of a long week filled with trail and error, I finally found myself capable of getting at least one memory kit to operate at the 1800 MHz it was designed for.
For now, I will credit my lack of advanced overclocking ability and experience as the primary reason I experienced so many road-blocks with overclocking system memory on this motherboard. If all I had to understand was this single MIT page, I might have been fine. Gigabyte offers several advanced sub-menus from the main GA-EP45T-EXTREME Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker page, which are illustrated in the next section. The faint at heart need not continue, because some of these settings are suitable for extremely advanced overclocking only.