|Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME P45 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 05 August 2008|
Page 6 of 17
GA-EP45T-EXTREME BIOS (Part 2)
To the very best of my memory, Gigabyte has always released stable BIOS programming. Nevertheless, there has also always been just one area that never quite captures the crown: fine tuning for overclocking. Clearly, with the images you've seen so far, this is not a problem the GA-EP45T-EXTREME P45 motherboard needs to be concerned with. For once, I actually had to look up the definitions for particular settings - on a Gigabyte BIOS. Go figure.
Prior to the Intel 915 series and the Core 2 Duo, I didn't have a lot of experience with overclocking on a Gigabyte motherboard. Since that time almost three years ago I have seen at least ten other Gigabyte product releases and combed through the BIOS architecture for almost fifty motherboards (as a system builder). The very first thing I could discern is that the GA-EP45T-EXTREME motherboard BIOS is nothing at all like the GA-X48T-DQ6 X48 Motherboard I recently reviewed. The P45 is supposed to reside beneath the X48 series, at least in terms of Intel's designated pecking order. But these two products share very little in common.
In addition to the standard DRAM latency timings available for a range of setting adjustments, the advanced precharge and static adjustments are also available. For most basic overclocking, these are best left with the default [Auto] setting. However if your overclocking requires a lab coat and goggles, then it's a good thing that Gigabyte didn't leave you unsupported.
Let me come right out and admit to you, the enthusiast reader, that the Advanced Timing Control menu you see above is exactly as it remained (and still remains) on the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME P45 motherboard. I wrote an entire article encompassing the DDR3 RAM System Memory Technology, yet nearly one-third of the terms used in the advanced settings were unfamiliar to me.
Making things a little more scary (for me), I stumbled across the Advanced Clock Control page. For most purposes, these settings can remain at the pre-defined defaults. However, if you're serious about tweaking your hardware, this is an area I expect you'll visit (and probably understand better than I did).
Throughout my testing of the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME BIOS, I didn't see a single problem that would prevent the average hardware enthusiast or overclocker from tweaking the component settings to exactly the position they required (except for system memory, which still remains a complicated project). There was a little concern for voltage stability on the EP45T, because looking at the PC Health Status section determined the current operating voltage of the hardware actually several steps different than the actual settings. This will give you a reliable idea of where your voltage is supposed to be compared to how far you'll stretch it.
Although the BIOS version I received is still very immature and at a release-day level, the overclock results I was able to attain were considerably good and completely stable. When compared against slightly older products such as the ASUS P5K3 Deluxe Intel P35 motherboard (utilizing the tenth version of that BIOS), the GA-EP45T-EXTREME could exceed CPU overclocks but was not able to match RAM overclocking results. While the results were similar, DDR3 speeds that could be reached with the P5K3 would give MemTest errors on the EP45T-EXTREME. Again, I attribute this entirely on my lack of experience with ultra-advanced overclock settings, and possibly an immature BIOS.
So now you know what to expect for the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-EXTREME, and I think that calling the configuration variables "extreme" is actually playing it down. Next we take a look at the rest of this P45 motherboard in our closer look section.