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BIOS And Overclocking

X48 Motherboard Comparison
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BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
FSB Frequency 200 - 800 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier Adjustment Yes
DRAM Frequency FSB clock x 1.0, 1.2, 1.33, 1.5, 1.60, 1.66, 2.0
PCIe Clock 100 - 200 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU Vcore 1.3000 - 2.0750 Volts (0.0125 Volts)
CPU FSB Voltage 1.20 - 1.44 Volts (Eight Steps)
Northbridge (MCH) 1.25 - 1.83 Volts (Eleven Steps)
Southbridge (ICH) 1.50 - 1.80 Volts (Eight Steps)
DRAM Voltage 1.50 - 2.75 Volts (26 Steps)
CAS Latency Range
tCAS: 5-11; tRCD: 3-15; tRP: 3-15; tRAS: 9-30

MSI provides a wide range of frequency adjustments, and just about every other setting the X48 Platinum might need to reach its full overclocking potential. This begins with a CPU FSB clock setting that goes up to 800 MHz (FSB-3200), which is at least 150 MHz higher than even the world's greatest overclockers could hope to reach. Less enthusiastic overclockers might instead choose one of the company's Dynamic Overclocking Technology (D.O.T.) settings of 1%, 3%, or 5%, which changes the FSB dynamically (as the name implies) under high CPU workload.

The full range of DRAM multipliers is available regardless of FSB clock, but the BIOS doesn't show any indication of which bootstrap is being applied.

Scrolling down the menu reveals CPU core, memory, FSB, MCH (X48 Express Northbridge), ICH (ICH9R Southbridge), CPU reference, and memory reference voltage settings.

The CPU core voltage limit of 2.075 volts is somewhat lower than those of some competitors, but still high enough to take most Core 2 series processors to their Liquid Nitrogen-cooled limits. The only relatively restrictive voltage range is the FSB limit of 1.44 V.

Adjusting DRAM timings requires opening a separate menu.

The X48 Platinum's latency values are fairly comprehensive, and each selection is broad enough for most types of memory. Unlike models from Asus and Gigabyte, though, the MSI X48 Platinum BIOS makes it impossible to manually set some values while leaving others in "automatic" configuration. To reach high memory speeds at moderate CAS, RAS to CAS delay, RAS Precharge, and RAS Activate to Precharge settings, we had to manually set tRFC to a higher value. The problem with not having an "automatic" setting for individual timings is that most builders don't know which tRFC values are appropriate.

The X48 Platinum supported the highest FSB of today's comparison: 542 MHz (FSB-2168) with our Core 2 Duo E6850 at 1.60 V core, 1.44 V FSB, and 1.52 V northbridge. Using the CPU's stock 9x multiplier we also reached a 4019 MHz clock speed.

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