MSI 845 Ultra-AR - Page 6

..:: System BIOS ::..

The American Megatrends BIOS is rather nice, providing some allowance for system tweaking. Intel boards rarely ever allow the amount of tweaking that can be seen on AMD boards as they do not want to sacrifice the stability Intel systems are known for. In the main window there are the normal options seen in every BIOS. We’ll take a look at the three most important windows, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, and the Hardware Monitor area.

The Advanced Chipset Feature window is home to the DRAM configuration. Within this window the user can select the DRAM frequency with options of Auto, 200MHz, and 266MHz. The DRAM Timings can also be set for the CAS Latency, RAS Precharge, RAS to CAS Delay, and the Precharge Delay. This window is also home to the AGP Aperture Size selection.

The Integrated Peripherals section, while normally unimportant, is home to many possible settings the user will want to enable, or disable. Within this window, the end user can choose to turn off the onboard Promise RAID Controller, Onboard Audio, USB, Serials Ports, etc. This window is often overlooked in many reviews, however it is important. If the end user doesn’t plan on using the RAID Controllers, why should they be forced to wait during boot for the system to attempt to detect and connected drives? This window can also be a lifesaver if the user runs across an IRQ problem and needs to free up one for use. All they’d need to do is disable a Serial Port, or something of that matter thus allowing them to manually configure an IRQ to the necessary slot.

The last window we’ll take a look at is the all important window for you overclockers out there. Within the Hardware Monitoring window, the user can adjust the Front Side Bus, DDR voltage, AGP voltage, and the VCore. The FSB can be adjusted in 1MHz increments. Keep in mind there is a 1:4 ratio for the bus speed. If you raise it to 110, you’re actually running at a 440MHz (110 x 4) FSB. The DDR voltage can only be raised to 2.6V which is a bit of a disappointment. I’d like to see this raised to at least 2.7V or 2.8V for better overclocking. The AGP voltage can also be raised .1V to a maximum of 1.6V. The VCore can be adjusted in .025V increments between 1.5V and 1.65V. The board however will run at a much lower voltage than selected in the BIOS. As you can see above, the VCore is actually only running at about 1.4V while in the BIOS it is still set to the default speed of 1.5V. This doesn’t seem like much, but overclockers out there will want every last bit of juice they can get to pump through their P4.

..:: Overclocking ::..

Using a DDR voltage of 2.6V, AGP voltage of 1.6V, and a VCore of 1.65V (Actually 1.6V) I was able to up the FSB to a cool 112 MHz before I noticed any instabilities. I also feel I should mention what a royal pain in the ass (pardon my bad English) this board wad to overclock. Every time the system would restart, it would fail when testing the VGA BIOS, or when it went to assign resources to ISA devices. Thanks to the D-Bracket I was able to determine what the errors were, but I was unable to fix them. Even with multiple BIOS’ and video cards, this issue still remained. If you plan on overclocking, I’d recommend staying away from this board until I can find out why this is happening from MSI.