Single page Print

The Micro ATX boards common with integrated graphics chipsets can get by being a little light on BIOS options because they're mainstream products targeted at folks who generally don't fiddle with clock speeds, multipliers, or memory timings. But the 790GX is supposed to be a performance product, so its BIOS has to measure up.

Bus speeds CPU base clock: 200-500MHz in 1MHz increments
PCIe: 100-200MHz in 1MHz increments
HT: 200-2600MHz in 200MHz increments
GPU: 200-2000MHz in 1MHz increments
Bus multipliers CPU: 5-25X in 0.5X increments
Memory controller: 5-16X in 1X increments
DRAM: 2, 2.66, 3.33, 4, 5.33
Voltages CPU: +/-0.6V in 0.025V increments
CPU NB: +/-0.6V in 0.025V increments
DRAM: +0.05-0.55V in 0.05V increments
NB: -0.2-+0.3V in 0.025V increments
SB: +0.1-0.3V in 0.1V increments
Sideport: +0.1-0.3V in 0.1V increments
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
Fan speed control CPU, system

Gigabyte consolidates the bulk of the DS4H's tweaking and overclocking options on a single page. Unlike most Gigabyte BIOSes, these options aren't gated by a secret Ctrl+F1 handshake. The only options that appear to be hiding this time around are those associated with Advanced Clock Calibration, which should probably be left on auto anyway.

The rest of the BIOS stacks up as one might expect. CPU base clock options are available up to 500MHz, although you're much better off overclocking with a Black Edition processor that supports upwards multiplier manipulation. Control over the Phenom core multiplier is available in 0.5X steps, and users can adjust the processor's north bridge multiplier in 1X steps. Integrated graphics core overclocking is also supported, if you're into that sort of thing. To me, though, that makes about as much sense as strapping a nitrous kit to a Toyota Yaris.

Processor overclocking is a much better use of your time, and the DS4H will let you crank CPU voltages by up to 0.6V. You can also drop the core voltage by 0.6V if underclocking is more your style, and the BIOS yields similar control over the CPU's north bridge voltage. DRAM voltages scale up by up to 0.55V, too, and users can tweak not only the voltage of the chipset's north and south bridge elements, but of the board's sideport memory, as well.

Access to all the usual memory timings is included, as one might expect, and Gigabyte even kicks in a measure of automatic fan speed control. Users can choose between three- and four-pin processor fan modes, and temperature-based fan speed control extends to the board's system fan header. Unfortunately, the BIOS doesn't yield much actual control over the automatic fan speed, er, control. We'd like to see Gigabyte offer the ability to set target processor and system temperatures and to specifically define fan voltage settings.

A new OverDrive utility
AMD is ushering in the 790GX with a new version of its OverDrive tweaking utility. This app gets a menacing all-black skin and it has been updated to bring ACC controls to Windows.

OverDrive can be used to tweak system voltages and multipliers without dipping into the BIOS. Users can even set independent multipliers for each Phenom CPU core, should some cores be more comfortable at higher speeds than others. ACC can be enabled on this page, too, although doing so requires a reboot.

In addition to plenty of overclocking options, OverDrive also serves up a full suite of memory timing controls that should let you tune to your heart's content. There are more timing options here than even most enthusiasts would know what to do with.

OverDrive isn't just a tweaking and overclocking app, either. AMD has built in a hardware monitoring tools that allows you to keep tabs on each Phenom core alongside a suite of GPU and motherboard variables.

Specifics on specifications
As ever, we've whipped up a handy quick-reference specifications chart on the Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H for your viewing pleasure.

CPU support Socket AM2/AM2+ Phenom, Athlon X2 processors
North bridge AMD 790GX
South bridge AMD SB750
Interconnect PCI Express 2.0 (16MB/s)
Expansion slots 2 PCI Express x16
3 PCI Express x1
2 32-bit/33MHz PCI
Memory 4 240-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 8GB of DDR2-533/667/800/1067 SDRAM
Storage I/O Floppy disk
1 channel ATA/133
6 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 support
Audio 8-channel HD audio via Realtek ALC889A codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
USB 2.0 with headers for 8 more
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Realtek RTL8111C
1 1394a Firewire via Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 with headers for 2 more
1 DVI out
1 VGA out
1 HDMI out

1 front out
1 analog bass/center out
1 analog rear out
1 analog surround out
1 analog line in
1 analog mic in
1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF out