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The feature list for the BIOS is worth an article of its own.
Not surprisingly, it is geared towards overclockers, and
almost every voltage and clock speed can be tweaked. For any Athlon 64 board these days, Cool 'n' Quiet support is a given. For a silencer,
there are only two additional features that really matter:
- Undervolting and underclocking potential.
- Good quality fan control.
In addition to the basic do-it-yourself and "revert to stock" settings,
there are several other options for "automated" overclocking and dynamic
frequency control. Unfortunately, all of these are geared towards raising frequencies
and voltages, not reducing them, so they are of limited use to silencers.
Five different overclocking modes are available.
The enormous range of possible configurations make navigating
the BIOS a bit of a nightmare, especially since options appear and disappear
(or become selectable) based on what other options are selected. Even with everything
set to manual, it still took a few tries to discover how to change the processor
voltage. The key: Voltage can only be changed when Cool 'n' Quiet is disabled.
If you can find the proper settings, the full range of processor
voltages, multipliers, and HTT bus speeds can be tinkered with, as well as a
few that are best left alone. The following adjustments are possible:
- Processor Voltage: 1.000 ~ 1.5625 V in 0.0125 V increments
- FSB: 200 ~ 400 MHz, in 1 MHz increments
- Processor Multiplier: 5x ~ Processor maximum, in 0.5x increments
Underclocking is possible only by lowering the multiplier; the FSB cannot be
lowered below the stock value of 200 MHz.
A full range of voltage adjustment, from low...
Fan control on the A8N32-SLI Deluxe is very simple. There are two options:
Enabled and Disabled. That's all you get. No trigger temperatures, maximum speeds,
or even a manual mode that lets you set the speeds to a constant value. Even
worse, it is far from clear which headers are controlled, and only three of
the six (!) fan headers on the board show up in the BIOS. For casual users,
Q-Fan may provide a quick and dirty way to regulate fan speed, but there's not
enough here to satisfy the tinkerers or quiet lovers.
This is the extent of the fan control options.
One final feature is so unusual that it bears mentioning just for the novelty.
The Marvell ethernet port comes with the ability to check for cable faults,
and the utility to do this is included in the BIOS itself. It can even be set
to do a check whenever the system boots, so the user will be notified immediately
if there is a problem. It can even identify how far down the cable the problem
This feature has been a part of Marvell's software package for some time, but
this is the first time we've seen it integrated into the BIOS itself. As mentioned
before, this feature is available only on the Marvell-controlled port; the utility
will not find faults on cables plugged into the nVidia controller. However, Windows XP automatically signals when an ethernet port is unplugged.
Built-in checking for ethernet cable faults.
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