Gigabyte BIOS Update Utility B
y far the best update utility I've used to date. BIOS versions can be flashed directly from an FTP server or downloaded to your PC and flashed from a bin file (I prefer the latter to minimize the number of things that can go wrong during the flash process). Asus has a similar feature, however; with Asus BIOS Update you cannot replace a current BIOS version with any previous BIOS version. Nor can you download a previous BIOS and flash from file. Expecting such features may seem trivial until you realize the role of the BIOS in the Enthusiast world. One only need look to motherboard makers themselves whom now invest substantial resources to host the latest drivers, BIOS versions and provide the software to access and utilize these files from the Desktop. These resources benefit both the End-User who is always looking for better performance and the motherboard maker whom can release products earlier knowing updates will follow. Examining the Award BIOS options I've concentrated on just two particular areas related to overclocking. First, PC Health
Most BIOS PC-Health screens are considered "passive" although most now have fan/temp monitoring and adjustment options. Whenever I install a new system or simply re-boot to BIOS this is the first screen I check to ensure system stability. Insofar as desktop versions of this software, in most cases these programs gather data from the same sources although the formula on which their based may vary. For those apprehensive about desktop freeware/shareware reliability, I won't try to convince you otherwise.
We've come a long way since thermistors were mounted in sockets when most CPU's lacked their own thermal protection. CIRCA socket-A motherboard makers had to rely on their own versions of overheat protection. Soltek gave us ABS and ABS II for Anti Burn Shield. As processors demanded and dissipated more wattage chip-makers began incorporating internal thermal diodes. Albeit to serve Thermal Throttling type functions or to protect the CPU internal thermal diodes gave us much more accurate data. With internal thermal diodes the industry took a large step forward only to take several steps back when it was discovered there were multiple internal diodes in some processors those at the hottest area of the core for shutdown and those feeding temperature software were located in much cooler regions of the die. Today if I were to chose which was more accurate, data displayed in BIOS or data accessed using programs such Core Temp
. I would probably choose Core Temp. Beyond the PC-Health screen the only other screen we'll examine is Award's MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T)
The screenshot above exemplifies the M.I.T. screen in it's "default" state. As is evident from the screenshot and thumbnails above there are just a few options for RAM, PCIe slot Graphics enhancement and a feature known as C.I.A.2. (CPU Intelligent Accelerator II) intended to replace manual overclocking by offering several options for the User to choose from (as is evident clicking on the thumbnail). More comprehensive then simply changing the FSB speed or increasing Vcore, the utility claims to make several adjustments to insure a stable overclock, so long as the hardware is capable of such changes. Next we access an advanced features screen by depressing Ctrl
simultaneously which reveals an array of manual memory settings among other adjustments.
The BIOS isn't simply a set of instructions for the hardware in your system, it is the catalyst by which we effect change between software and hardware. I found the P965-DS3 Rev. 1.0 BIOS to be troublesome. It's been reported she won't hold her manual timings and I found this out immediately upon booting the system up for the first time. I experienced power-down/on states repeatedly before it would take and any changes I made in the M.I.T. sections al reverted to n Auto state. For example simply attempting to manually adjust the memory to the 4.0+ divisor and run the CPU at 266FSB (for a memory speed of 1067MHz) failed.
Ultimately I tried five different memory brands to no avail and while I was able to get the Mushkin XP8500 to run at 1067MHz it wasn't stable even with a 266FSB. Increasing DDR2 voltage had no effect; the only solution was to try he 3.0 divisor or DDR2 800MHz speed. After trying all BIOS versions from F5 ~ F12 there was little difference and none of the anomalies were ever resolved completely. Inn the final analysis I was stuck at 425FSB which was stable, but I felt there must be more headroom. My E6400 has some serious potential and has clocked to 470FSB on the P5W DH, and ran through most benchmarks at default speed at 450FSB! Then I began experimenting with Gigabyte's Easy Tune, which gave me the title of this article. EasyTune 5
Gigabyte introduced EasyTune over seven years ago being the first board maker to bundle a Windows overclocking utility with their motherboards. As far back as the GA-6BX people were discovering the benefits of this utility, although most chose to overclock through the BIOS where they could make multiple changes ensuing stability. EasyTune has come along way as is evident in screenshot above and thumbnails below.
Above we have the PC-Health feature displaying, Vcore, 3.3V, 12.0V and CPU VID. The thumbnails below represent fan speeds, warning indicators, temperatures for CPU and System. The most important aspect of the EasyTune utility for our purposes will be the Overclocking screen and in particular the Advanced Mode, seen below.
processor speed shown above is 3200MHz with the Original
CPU speed being 2934MHz. In actuality both processor speeds shown were based on the same 8x400FSB setting, however; the Original
processor speed slowed due to my lapse in forgetting to disable all C-State / P-State features, such as C1E, EIST and TM2. Overclocker's have an aversion to certain C-State / P-States many having an allergic reaction similar to Bee-Sting victims. Doctors only know this as "premature stoppage syndrome." Although these safety stop-gaps do serve a purpose and enabling the right feature will extend the life of your CPU, Overclocker’s see these as obstacle. There are ways you can still use these features and still enjoy a healthy overclock. For example try Disabling TM2, EIST and Enabling C1E. This will allow uninterrupted execution to 100% LOAD, and then reduce speed during "sleep" states. To summarize this section on EasyTune-5 this utility allowed me to take this system from a slightly nervous 425FSB to a rock-solid 430FSB and then 450FSB.
Next we examine our test system and methods ->