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In a Pentium M system, the BIOS settings are almost irrelevant.
The extremely low heat output means that a quiet constant speed fan can be used
on the CPU heatsink without worrying about things overheating under load. Likewise,
there is little point in underclocking or undervolting, especially considering
that the Pentium M's power consumption at idle drops
below a single watt when SpeedStep is enabled.
AOpen is seems to be gambling on this point, as no adjustment of the CPU voltage
is possible. This has been a point of complaint for overclockers, but silencers
are unlikely to miss it. That aside, the usual range of FSB and multiplier adjustment
is available, along with basic voltage controls for some of the onboard peripherals.
The fan controller is a bit more advanced: Three options are given:
- Full Speed
- Smart Control, which allows a thermal target to be set
- Fixed Speed, which controls the speed of the fan as a percentage of the
fan's maximum speed
These options can be set independently for the "system fan" (actually,
the northbridge fan) and the CPU fan. The Smart Control mode also functions
as a way of disabling the fan speed alarm that inevitably goes off if a fan
is undervolted or even worse externally controlled. Each fan can
be set to maintain a target temperature appropriate for the thermal sensor that
controls it. The range of adjustment is as follows:
- CPU Fan: Disabled, or 25~70°C in five degree increments
- System Fan: Disabled, or 30~40°C in five degree increments
Three fan control modes offer plenty of choice.
Target temperature for the CPU can range up to a toasty 70°C (this is
the target we chose).
In addition to the thermal protection offered by the fan, there are a number
of other options selectable in the BIOS. SpeedStep can be enabled or disabled
by choosing to enable "Thermal Monitor 1" (CPU throttling) or "Thermal
Monitor 2" (SpeedStep). A CPU Warning temperature can also be set to trigger
an alarm and automatic throttling if the CPU exceeds a certain temperature.
A warning alarm can be set to go off if the CPU exceeds a certain temperature.
The FSB allows more overclocking that is reasonably attainable.
The multiplier (not CPU Bus Frequency as the title might suggest) can also
be adjusted, but only downwards.
True to its status as a home theater board, there is also an option that allows
the exact TV format that is output by the board. A total of 20 different formats
are supported, all variants of NTSC, PAL and SECAM. Most users will just want
to leave this on auto, but users with multi-format televisions may want to tweak
this option to use the best format for their source. There is also some potential
for rough-and-ready standards conversion by connecting the TV out directly into
a capture card that can read the appropriate format.
All these standards plus 13 more are supported.
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