DFI LAN Party PRO875B - Page 6

..:: DFI LANParty PRO875B BIOS ::..

For the BIOS, DFI has opted to go with the usual streamlined layout that we have seen in previous motherboards featuring a Phoenix BIOS. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of those usual 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. Take care to also notice the “Genie BIOS” and “CMOS Reloaded” menus. We’ll be covering these two menus in more depth a little later on, however the “Genie BIOS” portion is the overclocking menu, whilst the “CMOS Reloaded” menu is where the user can backup and load custom BIOS configurations.

We’ll start things off today with the Advanced Chipset Features window. When we enter into this menu, we’ll find that DFI has offered the user several capabilities dealing not only with the standard memory timing adjustments, but also with the bandwidth level and internal settings of the MCH. The standard timing selections are for the CAS Latency, Active to Precharge Delay, RAS# to CAS# Delay, and of course, the RAS# Precharge. We are very familiar with each of these settings, and DFI offers a nice assortment of settings to cope with all speeds of memory. Below these, we find the setting to select from three different DRAM clocks, mainly used for overclocking with RAM that can’t handle high speeds. Lastly, we come across an option that caters to the overclocking crowed, that being that the user has the ability to select the level of memory bandwidth to allow for further overclocking. For all of our tests, we selected the highest system bandwidth setting for optimal performance. There are several Low, Medium, and High settings available, with HPS3 being the highest.

The Integrated Peripherals window should, as always, be self explanatory for what it is responsible for. Within this window, the user can configure the IRQ & I/O Address settings 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 USB 2.0 / 1.1, Infrared / SIR, SATA RAID Controller, Onboard Sound, LAN Controller, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, and the Game / Midi Port as well. Within the Intel OnChip IDE Device submenu, we can adjust the operating mode of the SATA Controller, along with whether or not to enable some, or all of the IDE channels as well. Another unique feature that can be found within this portion of the BIOS is the ability to adjust the KBC input frequency.

The PC Health Status submenu should be another easily understood one. Here we have the ability to check the system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. DFI has also made two selection settings available to control whether or not the system will boot if a fan is not detected when connected to the CPU fan header on the motherboard, while the other available setting deals with the shutdown temperature of the system should the heatsink be mounted incorrectly or the CPU fan fail with the previous option disabled. As you can see from the image above, DFI allows for monitoring of all the core voltages and fan RPM’s for the system, unlike what we have seen on some other motherboards that skimped on both fan / thermal support, and variety of available monitored items.

Last up, let’s take a good look at the overclocking selections for the PRO875B, along with DFI’s “CMOS Reloaded.” When we first enter the “Genie BIOS” menu, we will find all of the main overclocking options and selections, starting off with the FSB clock, and multiplier. Since we have the pleasure of an ES Pentium 4, we were able to adjust the multiplier for use in our overclocking tests which we will be discussing shortly. DFI offers a wide range of available FSB frequencies, far and beyond what any user would be able to achieve. Next, we find the option for a set AGP/PCI/SATA frequency. For optimal stability, we chose to leave these set at their stock clock speeds of 66MHz / 33MHz / 100Mhz for testing purposes. Moving on down the menu, we next find the various “Over Voltage” settings for the PRO875B. DFI has not let down the overclocking crowd here as they have offered VCore settings all the way up to 1.975V, VDimm up to 2.9V, and AGP voltages up to 1.8V. With settings such as these, DFI has positioned the PRO875B against the enthusiast motherboard competition very well indeed.

DFI’s CMOS Reloaded is a useful feature as it allows the end user to save a given BIOS setup and gives them the ability to restore those settings automatically at any point. This is good for those users who look to attain the highest level of performance for intensive applications, but when needed are looking for pure stability. These users could save both a BIOS tuned for performance, and another tuned for stability. This is very similar to Gigabyte’s Dual BIOS feature, although this is done without the need of an extra BIOS chip / work on the end users part.

..:: DFI LANParty PRO875B Overclocking ::..

As far as FSB overclocking goes, we were very pleased with the highest stable speeds that we achieved with the DFI PRO875B. This motherboard was the first in quite some time to let us achieve a FSB of roughly 1150MHz. We were actually able to get the board to nearly 1200MHz FSB, but the system was far from stable at this point, even with higher voltages. The image above was taken with the highest stable setting that we could achieve. We left this system under heavy stress testing for quite some time to determine the nature of the stability, and from our tests, this is the high water mark for the PRO875B’s overclocking. This level of overclocking is very competitive against the best i875P and i865PE motherboards that we have ever worked with, and in many cases beats out many of those other motherboards, a feat that is not easy to match. Overall, the BIOS and Overclocking capabilities of the PRO875B are some of the best that we have seen in quite some time.