abit KV7 - Page 6

..:: Abit KV7 System BIOS ::..

For the KV7’s BIOS, Abit has opted to go with their well-loved SoftMenu III features. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of those usual options such as SoftMenu III Setup, Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, PC Health Status, and all of the Default Settings, etc. We’ll be primarily interested today in the Integrated Peripherals, PC Health Status, Advanced Chipset Features, and of course we can’t forget the most important menu, SoftMenu III Setup.

..:: Advanced Chipset Features ::..

The Advanced Chipset Features menu itself is broken up into three primary submenus, all dealing with specific settings for the KV7. The menu that you’ll likely be most interested in, since it is home to the main memory settings, would be the DRAM Clock/Drive submenu. Once we enter this submenu, we find all of the various memory timings that we would expect in an Abit BIOS. At the top of this list, we find that the user has the ability to adjust the memory operating frequency independently from the FSB. Now, if you’re familiar with how VIA FastStream64 works, you’ll know that you would want to run the FSB and DRAM at identical frequencies for maximum performance. That way you need not worry about any clock domain latencies, among several other issues that plague asynchronous DRAM setups.

The next items we come across all deal with the various timings for the DRAM. As always, here Abit allows for adjustment of the CAS Latency Time, Active to Precharge, Active to CMD, Precharge to Active, and Bank Interleave. The CAS Latency Time can be set to as low as 2.0 for maximum performance. Below these settings, we also find that Abit allows for adjustment of the DRAM Burst Length, DRAM Command Rate, DDR400 tWTR timing, and the DQS Input and Output Delay.

Located in the AGP & P2P Bridge Control submenu, the user can adjust the AGP Aperture Size, Transfer Rate, along with several other settings such as enabling Fast Writes. For advanced users, this menu also allows for adjustment of the various AGP Driving settings. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll want to leave these set to Auto for your own good.

..:: Integrated Peripherals ::..

Much like what we just saw with the Advanced Chipset Features menu, the Integrated Peripherals window is also broken up into three different submenus, all dealing with certain specific areas of the motherboard. Within these various submenus, the user can configure the IRQ settings of the integrated peripherals, along with enabling or disabling the ones that they wish to use or not to use for that matter. Within this menu, we can enable or disable several items such as the USB Controller, Onboard Sound, LAN Controller, LAN Boot ROM, SATA RAID, Serial Ports, Parallel Port, and more.

..:: PC Health Status ::..

The next menu within the KV7’s BIOS that we’ll be concerned with is that of the PC Health Status menu. Here we have the ability to check the system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. We can also select from several options dealing with fan and temperature readings. Those include whether or not to enable the CPU warning temperature alert, the system shutdown temperature, and the shutdown feature for the system if the CPU fan happens to fail. There is also an option for the FanEQ speed control based upon system temperatures. Each of these could help keep your system running cool and safe so you might want to enable these options, unless you don’t plan on using the CPU fan three-pin power connector on the motherboard.

..:: SoftMenu III Controls ::..

Abit is well known for their SoftMenu III Technology, although in some eyes it is growing old. Within this menu, you have the ability to custom both the processor and DRAM voltages, along with being able to select a preset processor speed grade, or manually entering in the speed you wish to run at. The DRAM voltage can be set between 2.5v and 2.8v in .5v increments, while the core voltage can be adjusted all the way to 2.325v in .025v increments! Unless you’re using some serious cooling, I wouldn’t suggest even trying to attain such core voltages. Sadly, as we are used to seeing with VIA based solutions, we can also see that the BIOS does not employ some preset AGP / PCI bus frequency ratios. These are very important for overclocking as they can allow you to hold your PCI bus frequency in a safe zone while you can get the maximum performance and speed out of your system, yet these are not common features on VIA motherboards. There are four selectable CPU:DRAM ratios, or “Multiplier Factors,” that are available, 3:2:1, 4:2:1, 5:2:1, and of course 6:2:1.

..:: Abit KV7 Overclocking Performance ::..

Next up, let’s cover our overclocking experiences with the Abit KV7. As we all know oh so well, Abit base themselves on the fact that their boards are made for overclockers, and are designed by overclockers. In order to achieve the highest possible FSB, we decided to lower the multiplier on our Barton 3200+ down to 9.0x, a point low enough to add sufficient FSB speed without closing in on the top MHz capability of the CPU. Heading into this, I didn’t expect to attain a real jaw dropping overclock, especially since the KT600 chipset doesn’t feature a set PCI / AGP frequency. When the dust settled, I was able to reach roughly 231MHz on the FSB, with an effective PCI frequency of a little under 39MHz. This is just about where I expected to see the board make it, although with Chris’ findings on the KT600 chipset I was hoping for a little more. Overall the KV7 offers some good overclocking capabilities on the cheap, something many of you looking to upgrade might want to take a good look at.