Busting into the BIOS
Micro ATX motherboards rarely offer a wealth of tweaking options, but the G45M has a few surprises up its sleeve.
FSB: 200-800MHz in 1MHz
PCI: 37.3, 42MHz
|Bus multipliers||FSB/DRAM: 1/1.25, 1/1.5, 1/1.67, 1/2, 1/1, 1/1.2|
CPU: 0.96-2.0475 in
DRAM: 1.8-2.9V in 0.05V increments
North bridge: 1.1-1.6V in 0.025V increments
FSB: 1.2-1.55 in 0.025V increments
South bridge: 1.5-1.8V in 0.1V increments
|Monitoring||Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring|
|Fan speed control||CPU|
Although CPU multiplier control isn't provided, front-side bus speeds are available between 200 and 800MHz in 1MHz increments. The BIOS also serves up a full suite of bus dividers to keep the system's memory in check.
The selection of voltage options is even more impressive. Users can push the CPU voltage up to 2.0475V and the memory up to 2.9Vhigher values than we've seen on some enthusiast-oriented ATX motherboards. Heck, you can even tweak chipset and front-side bus voltages.
Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that MSI has included a full selection of memory timing controls in the BIOS. You don't get access to every timing under the sun, but most users probably won't mess with more than the CAS latency, RAS to CAS delay, RAS precharge, cycle time, and command rate.
Robust fan speed controls don't seem to be a priority for motherboard makers, who appear fixated on providing far more extensive overclocking and timing controls than the vast majority of folks actually need. Fortunately, the G45M's fan speed controls are pretty decent. Temperature-based fan speed control is limited to the CPU fan header, but users can easily set a target temperature between 40 and 70° Celsius in 5° increments. Control is also provided over the minimum fan speed, which can be set between 0 and 87.5% in 12.5% increments. Overall, then, this budget offering serves up more granular fan speed control than you get on most high-end motherboards.
While we're discussing the BIOS, I should note that the G45's Blu-ray decode capabilities are only unlocked if the chipset's Protected Audio/Video Path is set to "Lite" mode. This option should be available in the BIOS under a "PAVP mode" setting, but it wasn't present in the initial release that accompanied the G45M-FIDR, severely hampering Blu-ray playback. The option has been added in a subsequent beta BIOS for the FIDR, and it works. However, the fact that such an important feature was left out in the first place is a little alarming.
Specifics on specifications
As usual, we've consolidated all of the motherboard's vital specifications in a handy chart. Enjoy.
|CPU support||LGA775-based Celeron, Pentium 4/D, Core 2 processors|
|North bridge||Intel G45 Express|
|South bridge||Intel ICH10R|
1 PCI Express x16
1 PCI Express x1
2 32-bit/33MHz PCI
4 240-pin DIMM
Maximum of 16GB of DDR2-667/800 SDRAM
1 channel ATA/133 via JMicron JMB368
6 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 support
|Audio||8-channel HD audio via Realtek ALC888 codec|
1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
4 USB 2.0 with headers for 6 more
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Realtek RTL8111C
1 1394a Firewire via JMicron JMB381 with header for 1 more
1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1 analog rear out
1 analog surround out
1 analog line in
1 analog mic in