Chaintech A865PE - Page 6

..:: A865PE System BIOS ::..

As far as the A864PE’s BIOS goes, Chaintech has opted to go with the traditional Award BIOS layout that we have come across countless times in the past. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of the typical menu options such as Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, PC Health Status, and all of the Default Settings, etc. We’ll be primarily interested today in the Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, and the Frequency / Voltage Control.

The Advanced Chipset Features submenu houses all of the oh-so-important memory timing options. While Chaintech allows for the standard memory timings to be manually adjusted, there are no other tweaking options available that would make the A865PE a standout for tweaking options. Chaintech offers the standard CAS, RAS to CAS, RAS to Precharge, and Precharge timing selections. Some of the more other settings that can be adjusted within this window are the AGP Aperture, along with an option to enable or disable BIOS Flash protection, a nice feature to make sure no “uneventful” problems arise.

Much like what we have seen in our nearly two years of reviewing motherboards, the Integrated Peripherals window is also broken up into an immense listing of certain specific aspects of the motherboard and the peripherals that are built-in. Within this menu, the user has the ability to configure the IRQ settings of several of the integrated peripherals, along with enabling or disabling the ones that they wish to use or not to use for that matter. Within this menu, we can enable or disable several items such as the Onboard USB 2.0 Controller, C-Media AC97’ Audio Codec, Integrated LAN, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, and much more. If you know that you’re going to be utilizing any of the given features offered by the A865PE, this is the portion of the BIOS where you’ll need to look to make sure each of them has been enabled.

The next menu that we will be discussing is that of the PC Health Status menu. The menu houses all of the various displays for system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. As you can see, our 3.20GHz “Prescott” processor is running with the proper VCore of roughly 1.25V - 1.30V, much better than the 1.40V+ readings we have been receiving on some other motherboards in house. You might also notice the high temperature recorded by “Prescott” of 49C or so when idling. We experienced temperatures right around 59C full load with the A865PE as reported by the BIOS. This number falls right in line with other reported temperatures on previously reviewed motherboards. Chaintech also adds an option to select a shutdown temperature for the system. With “Prescott” in use, I have found myself utilizing this feature more often as a “just in case” scenario.

The last menu of importance that we will be addressing today is that of the Frequency / Voltage Control. Within this window, Chaintech has given the end user the capability to adjust the clock multiplier of their processor if it is indeed unlocked. As you can see, since our processor does feature an unlocked clock multiplier, we are allowed to set the multiplier to any of the available settings. Located just below this, we find AGP / PCI frequency selection menu, along with the various voltage adjustment possibilities. The VCore selections vary up to 1.600V, and are in the usual .025V increments. The AGP voltages range form 1.5V to 1.8V, while the DRAM settings range from 2.5V to 2.8V. Each of the aforementioned voltage selections, minus that of the VCore, are each selectable in .1V increments. Overall, the available voltages should be more than enough to please an enthusiast looking to grasp some more performance from their A865PE.

Overall, we were pleased with the BIOS that Chaintech has chosen to utilize with the A865PE. Given that the board isn’t geared towards the real high-end crowd, we can deal with the fact that there are only the usual four memory timing selections available. The voltages that Chaintech supply should be more than enough for both “Prescott” and “Northwood” solutions, although with “Prescott” I noticed a problem that has popped up on several motherboards. I usually undervolt the processor slightly to cut down on heat, and have found that in may cases, the boards will all take whatever selection I set the VCore for, and end up being .05V lower than expected. This is just to serve as a notice for you to watch out for this issue. Otherwise, the BIOS offers all of the necessary items, and is well organized.

..:: A865PE Overclocking ::..

Over the last few weeks, we haven’t been having much luck with our “Prescott” supporting motherboards and their capabilities as far as the topic of overclocking goes. I’m more than happy to say that the Chaintech A865PE is the first motherboard to enter our graces in some time that is fully capable of running at a FSB frequency of roughly 1.10GHz. We have been running the system for some time now at this speed and have not experienced any problems whatsoever. Whether it is heaving gaming, or crunching serious numbers with Folding @ Home, this A865PE has been able to take the 1.10GHz speed without a thought. We attempted to reach 1.20GHz but it just wasn’t going to happen as the system failed to boot. The highest stable FSB frequency we achieved was roughly 1112MHz. Needless to say, the Chaintech A865PE provides more than enough power to overclock anything you throw at it. Mileage will, of course, vary from system to system depending on hardware.