Gigabyte GA-7VT600-L - Page 6

..:: Gigabyte GA-7VT600-L System BIOS ::..

Our motherboard was originally shipped with the initial F5 BIOS release for the 7VT600-L. However, the images shown here to describe the 7VT600-L motherboard's BIOS was successfully flashed to the latest F6 release using Gigabyte's software based @BIOS update method described in the user manual. This release was also used for all of our benchmarking and overclocking tests.

After pressing the delete key during POST, you will come to the main menu of the Award BIOS. If you start to configure your hardware now, you will quickly realize that the tweaking options located within these sub-menus are almost non-existent on the 7VT600-L.

However, if you press the Ctrl+F1 key combination when you are within the main menu of the Award BIOS, you can enable a couple of extra sub-menus as well as a plethora of tweaking options within each sub-menu. These are the hidden BIOS features and settings (which we talked about earlier) that are nowhere to be found in the user manual. I'm not sure why Gigabyte has decided to hide them, but the images below are taken with these hidden BIOS features and settings enabled.

The image above is the advanced chipset features sub-menu. You will not able to access it without pressing the Ctrl+F1 key combination. As you can see, this is a critical section of the BIOS for tweaking numerous memory timings and for controlling AGP settings. The fast command setting can be set to either normal, fast or ultra, but selecting the ultra setting resulted in an unstable environment when running 3D applications with our hardware.

The next sub-menu is to disable or enable the integrated peripherals that are on the 7VT600-L motherboard. This section is self explanatory, but for an example, if you wish to use an Audigy 2 sound card, all you have to do is select the AC97 audio feature and set it to disabled. The next section in the BIOS controls the power management. These features are usually included in every motherboard's BIOS, so there is really nothing special here to report.

The PC health status sub-menu is where you can monitor voltages, temperatures and fan speeds within your system. For some unknown reason, the 7VT600-L is providing our 2500+ processor an unnecessary amount of extra voltage, if this reading is indeed correct. The processor's temperature is a bit higher than we are used to seeing while operating at a default clock speed. Hopefully this voltage problem can be fixed in a future BIOS update.

The next sub-menu is where you can change the frequency and voltages of certain components if you plan on overclocking. However, if you change the FSB frequency, you will inadvertently affect the PCI/AGP clocks. Not being able to lock the PCI/AGP clocks is the unfortunate limitation found on all VIA chipset motherboards and not just the Gigabyte 7VT600-L. The processor's FSB options are available up to 250MHz which is the equivalent of a 500MHz DDR FSB. By selecting the cpu overvoltage control, you can feed an extra 10% of voltage to the processor's default voltage. If you need more voltage for the video card or for the memory, an extra 0.3 volts are available for each of these components as well.

Gigabyte's top performance option becomes available after pressing the Ctrl+F1 key combination. This feature automatically selects the most aggressive, yet stable settings for your particular hardware as the motherboard sees fit. When we tested out this feature, the 7VT600-L set our 333MHz FSB processor to 340MHz. This feature would be handy to the novice user that is afraid to play around with the some of the more advanced settings within the BIOS.

..:: Gigabyte GA-7VT600-L System BIOS ::..

Let us now take a look at how well the Gigabyte 7VT600-L motherboard can handle some overclocking. With the layout and design of the 7VT600-L, it is obvious that heavy duty cooling methods will not likely be used with this motherboard, but to keep the playing field level for all of my reviews, I am going to use the air conditioner once again. Armed with a Thermaltake Volcano9 heatsink with the fan at the highest RPM setting, a dab of Arctic Silver 3 grease and an air conditioner blowing cold air directly into the test system, how far can the 7VT600-L go?

Amazing! The Gigabyte 7VT600-L was able to overclock our 2500+ processor to 2.188GHz on a 398MHz DDR FSB with the PCI bus running at 39MHz. This overclock is by far the best FSB result I have ever been able to achieve on a VIA chipset based motherboard. All of my previous overclocking attempts have ended up crashing Windows with a 39MHz PCI clock. Raising the processor's voltage, the AGP voltage, memory voltage, or decreasing the memory timings could not help produce a higher FSB overclock.