Gigabyte GA-8IEXP - Page 6

..:: System BIOS ::..

For the BIOS, Gigabyte has opted to go with a more streamlined layout than 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 CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS 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 Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, Frequency / Voltage Control, and of course the Dual BIOS menus.

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 Controller, IEEE1394 Support, RAID Controller, Onboard Sound, LAN Controller, LAN Boot ROM, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, Game / Midi Port, Smart Card Interface, and lastly the MS / SDI Interface as well. Needless to say, if you want to enable or disable any feature of the GA-8IEXP, 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 tweakers. Within this menu, you can adjust the Front Side Bus speed from anywhere between 100MHz and 355MHz. I seriously doubt you’ll ever get even remotely close to the 355MHz mark, but hey it’s still interesting to see now isn’t it? We can also set a fixed PCI and AGP Frequency all the way from 33MHz / 66MHz to 50MHz / 100MHz. If you prefer to go with the latter you need to step away from the system very very slowly and proceed to never return until you’ve learned why that wouldn’t be the smartest idea heh. We can also adjust the Host to DRAM clock ration of 2.0 or 2.6 respectively. As far as voltages go, we can adjust the vcore from 1.50V to 1.725V in .025V increments, we can adjust the DRAM voltage to +.1V, +.2V, or +.3V as is the same for the AGP over voltage. All in all a nice selection of overclocking options, although I’d prefer to see the vcore settings be a little higher, more like a maximum of 1.85V.

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-8IEXP is fairly well done, although I’d prefer to see some more tweaking options be available for the memory timings and things of that sort to really obtain peak performance.