Leadtek K7NCR18D-Pro - Page 7

..:: System BIOS ::..

Leadtek has opted to go with a slightly more conservative BIOS in terms of some settings, while it offers others that are not readily found on other motherboards. The BIOS offers a fair amount of overclocking options, however it does not allow for the adjustment of the multiplier, surely something overclockers will frown upon. Leadtek attempts to make up for it in other areas dedicated to tweaking and overclocking, but the one major thing all overclockers look for is missing. 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, X-BIOS II, and all of the Default Settings, etc. We’ll, as always, be primarily interested today in the Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, Advanced Chipset Features, and of course we can’t forget the X-BIOS II menu as it is for overclocking after all.

The Advanced Chipset Features menu is home to the memory timing settings. This is where you’ll be doing the bulk of your tweaking and overclocking. Within this window, the user has the ability to adjust the CAS Latency Time, Act to Precharge Delay, RAS to CAS Delay, and the RAS Precharge. The CAS Latency Time can be set to as low as 2.0 for optimal performance. Each of the other main memory timings can be set anywhere between 1 and 8. This window also houses several other option of interest, such as the AGP aperture size, and more importantly, the AGP frequency. Here, you can choose to overclock your AGP frequency all the way to 100MHz, although that probably wouldn’t be a smart choice. This also allows for a set AGP frequency even when overclocking the FSB. The memory can be set at various intervals from 100% to 200%. The wisest choice here would be to set the frequency to “Auto” to allow for optimal performance.

The Integrated Peripherals menu should as always be self explanatory for what it is responsible for. Within this window, the user can configure the IRQ 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 Controller, Onboard Sound, NVIDIALAN Controller, 3Com LAN Controller, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, the Game / Midi Port, and IEEE1394a support as well. Needless to say, if you want to enable or disable any feature of the K7NCR18D-Pro, 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 CPU temperature reaches or exceeds the preset warning temperature, the shutdown temperature, and the option to warn the user if no fan is connected to the main fan header on startup. Each of these could help keep your system running safe, so you might want to leave these enabled unless you either don’t plan on using the three-pin power connector on the motherboard, or don’t feel the need to enable them. As you can see, the K7NCR18D-Pro has a tendency to over-volt slightly, although that may come in handy later on.

The last menu we’ll be taking a look at today looks far more appealing than it really is. I was eager to take a look at the available settings as soon as I saw “Overclocking” in the main menu. Well, when you do enter into the X-BIOS II menu, you’ll only notice two settings. One allows you to adjust the processor core voltage in .025V increments. Now, the good point about this is, Leadtek allows you to throw up to 2.00V at that AthlonXP. The bad part is, what use is it if you don’t allow for adjustment of the multiplier? Unless you’re using a heavy duty heatsink or water-cooling, setting the core voltage to 2.00V would be far from an intelligent choice. I would much rather see a multiplier adjustment than voltages up to 2.00V. Some might agree, some may disagree, that is just my opinion. The only other setting in the X-BIOS II menu would be for the AGP voltage. Here you can set the AGP voltage to +.1 or +.2V.

Now, you may have a better idea as to why I stated that this BIOS is conservative in some aspects, while very open in others. We see that Leadtek allows for core voltages all the way up to 2.00V, yet they don’t allow for multiplier adjustment. Why? Sure, the extra voltage will help you tack on a few more MHz, however the performance that could be achieved in lowering the multiplier and raising the FSB far surpasses anything you’ll get without a multiplier adjustment option. Not to mention, throwing a large amount of voltage at your processor is far from a wise decision if you don’t know what you’re doing. Unless your using a real heatsink or water cooling, and I know the overclockers out there know what I’m talking about, you’d be foolish to run your processor at such a high voltage. Then we also have to take into account the fact that the chip has an electrical limit to overclocking. All in all, the Leadtek K7NCR18D-Pro comes along with a good set of memory tweaking options, although the BIOS falls short when it comes to overclocking.