VIA VPSD P4PB 400 - Page 6

..:: System BIOS ::..

For the P4PB 400, VIA has chosen to opt with a very nicely outfitted Award BIOS. Much like what we experienced with our P4PA, the P4PB 400ís BIOS brings with it a very nice amount of tweaking and overclocking options. When you enter the BIOS, youíll come across all of those usual options such as Standard CMOS Features, Advanced CMOS 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. We are primarily interested in the Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, and Frequency / Voltage Control windows, and will be covering these specific areas.

The Advanced Chipset Features window does not contain an extravagant amount of tweaking options. Within this window, the user has the ability to adjust the AGP Aperture Size, AGP Mode, AGP Driving Control, and the CPU to PCI POST Write options. As you can see, I chose to go with a 128M Aperture, 4X AGP Mode, Auto, and Enabled for all of our tests here today. The real tweaking happens later on in the Frequency / Voltage Control window.

The Integrated Peripherals window should 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, such as the Serial Ports. This can be done by entering the SuperIO Device window. Here, we can also enable or disable the two IDE channels, along with the IDE Prefetch option. You can select either PCI or AGP for the Display Card Priority option, depending on the type of graphics card you plan on using with the P4PB 400. Lastly, we also have the ability to enable or disabled USB Keyboard Support, the Onboard Audio, and the Onboard Modem.

Hereís yet another window that should be self explanatory simply because of its name, PC Health Status. Within this window, we can take a look at the system voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. It is important to note that within this window there is no safeguard temperature for the processor like we have seen on a few other boards. Although the Pentium 4 can handle the extra heat by down-clocking itself, it would be nice to see a shutdown temperature option added to this window.

The last window we come across is the single most important window as far as tweaking and overclocking goes. When we enter the Frequency / Voltage Control window, we come across several options to select from for our DRAM, FSB, and Voltage settings. The selectable settings are arranged in the following order; DRAM Clock, DRAM Timing, SDRAM CAS Latency, Bank Interleave, Trp, Tras, Trcd, DRAM Command Rate, DRAM Burst Len, and AGP Voltage. Following in this order, our tests were run using the following settings; 166MHz, Manual, 2, 4, 2, 5, 2, 1T, 8, 1.5V. The DRAM Clock options include 100MHz, 133MHz, 166MHz, and 200MHz. One available option I have not seen in quite some time falls under the CAS Latency area. VIA has included the option to go with a CAS Latency of as low as 1.5! Below this selection of tweaking options, we come across four more options, CPU VCore select, DRAM Voltage, CPU Clock, and Spread Spectrum. The P4PB 400 BIOS allows the adjustment of the CPU VCore in .025V increments from 1.1V all the way to 1.8V. The available voltages for the DRAM are 2.5V, 2.6V, 2.7V, and 2.8V. Lastly, we have the CPU Clock which is adjustable in 1MHz increments. Clearly from the BIOS, the P4PB 400 is meant for the high performance crowd and system tweakers looking to get every last ounce of performance out of their system.