Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra - Page 6

..:: BIOS & Overclocking ::..

For the BIOS, Gigabyte has opted to go with the usual streamlined layout that we have seen in previous 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, Frequency / Voltage Control, and all of the Default Settings, etc. Take care to also notice the “Top Performance” option in the BIOS. We decided to test this option out and we did see a small gain in performance with this option enabled. We’ll be primarily interested today in the Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, and of course the Frequency / Voltage Control.

We’ll start things off today with the Advanced Chipset Features window. In order to access this window, the user must press ctrl + F1 when they are in the BIOS and this will come up as an available selection. When we enter this window, we find that this will be the system tweaker’s home when it comes to RAM timings. Here we can adjust all of the well known RAM timings, along with several others that are less familiar in nature. The settings in the above image are those that were used for our benchmarking purposes in case you’re interested. We found these settings to provide the most stability and highest performance available.

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 submenu, we can enable or disable several items such as the USB 2.0 / 1.1 support, IEEE1394 support, ATA/133 RAID Controller, SATA RAID Controller, Onboard Sound, LAN Controller, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, and the Game / Midi Port as well. Needless to say, if you want to enable or disable any feature of the GA-7VAXP Ultra, this is the place to do it.

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. We can also select from several options. Those include whether or not to enable the alert when the case has been opened, the CPU warning temperature, and the fail warnings of the three system fans. Each of these could help keep your system running cool and safe so you might want to leave these enabled unless you don’t plan on using the three-pin power connectors on the motherboard as I do.

The Frequency / Voltage Control submenu is home to the overclockers and frequency tweakers. Within this menu, you can adjust the front side bus speed from anywhere between 133MHz to 165MHz. Yes you read that right. This item of note alone will deter many users away from the GA-7VAXP Ultra merely because it’s lack of support for any real front side bus overclocking. The setting may only go up to 165MHz, but rest assured if you’re using a 333MHz FSB AthlonXP, you’ll get a little over 333MHz for your internal clock. I would have preferred to see Gigabyte allow for higher internal frequencies to accompany some of the tweakers out there. We can also see that there is not a fixed PCI / AGP frequency so this could be one reason as to why Gigabyte chose not to add in the higher front side bus speeds. Within this window, we also can adjust the DRAM Clock for DDR266, DDR333, or DDR400. You can only use two of the DIMM’s if you plan on utilizing DDR400, although I did successfully run some tests on the system with all three DIMM’s full. Be assured that this was only for testing purposes and should not be done in your system! The system did have sporadic instability during these tests so obviously you should only fill two DIMM’s with DDR400 enabled. The voltage controls allow for adjustment of the CPU voltage in +5%, +7.5%, and +10%. The AGP over voltage can be set to +.1V, +.2V, or +.3V.

The last menu of importance is one which could be a lifesaver. When you enter into the system BIOS by pressing the delete key during POST, you then proceed to press F8 once you’re in the BIOS to access the Dual BIOS / Q-Flash menu as can be seen above. Here we can select which BIOS we would like to boot from, and whether or not we’d like to flash a new BIOS to one of the chips for testing / overclocking fun. We also see that we have an option of Auto Recovery, one which you’ll want to leave enabled at all times, along with whether or not to halt the system if it detects a BIOS defect. The Dual BIOS feature of Gigabyte motherboards is one I have come to love as it can make life much easier when tweaking the system using different BIOS’ and can really save you if you happen to flash your BIOS during a raging thunderstorm, hurricane, tornado, etc. Overall the system BIOS for the GA-7VAXP is fairly well done, although I’d prefer to see some more front side bus tweaking options be available to really obtain peak performance.