BIOS options and tweaking software
Barbie also invades the ICFX3200's BIOS with an alarmingly pink splash screen that just about slaps you across the face when the board first boots.
At least it's another pastel pink, so the slap is pretty weak. You can easily disable the splash screen in the BIOS, as well. In fact, that may be one of the easiest things to do. You see, the ICFX3200's BIOS is not for the weak at heart. This is quite possibly the most hardcore set of tweaking and overclocking options we've ever seen available on a motherboard, and that can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on just how much patience you have for fiddling.
Things start out innocently enough, with the BIOS yielding control over the CPU multiplier and providing front-side bus speed options up to 511MHz. You can also adjust the memory bus speed between 133 and 658MHz and even tweak the speed of the north bridge PCI Express links.
Then things get complicated.
On the voltage front, you can crank the CPU up to 1.6V, and then add up to an additional 21.25% with a secondary boost, yielding a maximum CPU voltage of 1.95V. Memory voltages are also available up to 3.01V, conveniently through a single setting. The next set of voltages you might want to manipulate would be those corresponding to the chipset, and there is certainly no shortage of options to choose from. You have a total of five different north bridge voltages at your disposal, plus voltage control for the south bridge and for the board's clock generator
Things get even more interesting when we look at memory tweaking. In addition to the usual array of memory timings, you can dig deep into the memory controller and manipulate settings that even the board's manual suggests be left at their default values.
Curiously, though, this almost obsessive attention to detail hasn't extended to the BIOS's fan speed control section. Sure, you can define high and low temperature targets for three onboard fan headers, but that's about it. For a BIOS that goes to great lengths to give overclockers far more tweaking options than they probably need, it would have been nice if DFI had spent at least some time improving user control over its fan speed options.
Like its fan speed options, DFI's CMOS Reloaded profile management system hasn't changed much over the years. CMOS Reloaded hardly needs an upgrade, though; its ability to save and load up to four BIOS configuration profiles has yet to be matched, especially when you consider that any profile can automatically be invoked during the boot process by holding down a predefined hotkey.
The ICFX3200's BIOS is clearly tailored for hardcore overclockers and savvy tweakers, but if you find it a little intimidating, the board also comes with a copy of AMD's System Manager software.
This System Manager software lets users manipulate a number of system variables from Windows, including the front-side bus, memory, and even PCIe speeds.
System Manager also yields control over system voltages, although not nearly as many as you get through the BIOS. The software also confirms that the AMD RD600 is, in fact, an ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 for Intel.
Memory tweaking is possible with the AMD System Manager, as well. Some timings, such as CAS latency, can only be manipulated through the BIOS. There are plenty of others to play with, though.
Overall, the AMD System Manager is a pretty basic system utility. It's better than nothing, which is what we're used to getting with
ATI AMD chipsets. However, AMD apparently has big plans for its system management software, so they may yet match the functionality already available through Nvidia's excellent nTune system utility.
|HGST packs 1.5TB into 9.5-mm, three-platter Travelstar 5K1500 notebook drive||5|
|Hardware: Shipbreakers trailers highlight back-story, freemium perks||8|
|MSI lifts the curtain on Z87 MPower motherboards||26|
|Samsung's latest 13.3'' notebook screen has a 3200x1800 resolution||64|
|The PC graphics market was kind to Nvidia last quarter||28|
|Gigabyte offers early peek at Z87 motherboards||32|