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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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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 15, 2008 3:19 PM
    Help please.Can this board be configured with the first two (SATA) HDs mirrored and the other drives JBOD? Thank you in advance.
  • 0 Hide
    oblivionspell , July 2, 2008 8:26 PM
    Great review, very detailed and informative. But I must say that either you were lucky that your X38 P5E3 Deluxe came with a better-than-average chipset or that I wasn't so lucky and got a malfunctioning one.

    I have an Asus Maximus Formula which is, as you know, the Republic of Gamer's solution for the X38 and recently bought a Patriot Extreme Performance 1150mhz PC2-9600. Whenever I try anything above 1020mhz for the RAM my PC reboots; the higher it is the less time it takes to do it. At 1020mhz it'll only reboot if I run something more demanding like 3dMark06 or any new game, at 1100mhz it'll barely show the Windows loading screen then reboot, above 1120mhz it'll not even load windows and freeze. But in every case it boots up fine.

    The Asus forums are full of users who can't get stability in any way with >=1066mhz ram on X38 boards. A selected few have come to accomplish it however, which leads me to think those were the lucky ones who got the good shipment, like you. The Patriot forums are the same, X38 users can't get their system stable with RAMS over 1066 or not even that.

    Maybe that X48 "official" support is something to consider, it might be the fix to the X38 we users are looking for. Even if it's only to make sure it'll run RAMs at >=1066mhz, it's good enough already.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2008 1:22 PM
    oblivionspell - Have you tried manually setting your RAM voltage to the correct value for the performance setting(s)?

    I had to do this on my Asus Crosshair, even though EPP is supposed to take care of it for you. Without manually setting the voltage, I had memory corruption and crashes, but could use the non-EPP mode. With the voltage bumped to the correct 2.1V,
    the EPP modes work perfectly.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , September 6, 2008 9:37 AM
    oblivionspellGreat review, very detailed and informative. But I must say that either you were lucky that your X38 P5E3 Deluxe came with a better-than-average chipset or that I wasn't so lucky and got a malfunctioning one.I have an Asus Maximus Formula which is, as you know, the Republic of Gamer's solution for the X38 and recently bought a Patriot Extreme Performance 1150mhz PC2-9600. Whenever I try anything above 1020mhz for the RAM my PC reboots; the higher it is the less time it takes to do it. At 1020mhz it'll only reboot if I run something more demanding like 3dMark06 or any new game, at 1100mhz it'll barely show the Windows loading screen then reboot, above 1120mhz it'll not even load windows and freeze. But in every case it boots up fine.The Asus forums are full of users who can't get stability in any way with >=1066mhz ram on X38 boards. A selected few have come to accomplish it however, which leads me to think those were the lucky ones who got the good shipment, like you. The Patriot forums are the same, X38 users can't get their system stable with RAMS over 1066 or not even that.Maybe that X48 "official" support is something to consider, it might be the fix to the X38 we users are looking for. Even if it's only to make sure it'll run RAMs at >=1066mhz, it's good enough already.


    It's just a matter of having the right RAM and using the correct timings and voltage. All X38 and X48 motherboards that support DDR2 memory can run DDR2-1066 speeds with stability, so long as the RAM is set up right in BIOS.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 15, 2008 5:50 PM
    "Inside, users will find a GUI based on the Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) platform."

    This is not accurate. SCIM is an "input method" -- a scheme for entering internationalized text. Not sure what the GUI is really based on. GTK2, maybe?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , September 15, 2008 7:18 PM
    Quote:
    "Inside, users will find a GUI based on the Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) platform."

    This is not accurate. SCIM is an "input method" -- a scheme for entering internationalized text. Not sure what the GUI is really based on. GTK2, maybe?


    I see your point, but that's the same arguement as "Windows 98SE is a GUI based on DOS". Which is innacurate only in wording. It would be better to say "Windows 98SE is a GUI for DOS".

    So, you'd be happier to read "Users will find a GUI for the Smart Common Input Method (SCIM) platform" correct?
  • 0 Hide
    chill70 , October 15, 2008 12:09 PM
    It's not only the wording. SCIM is not an operating system, so even your example is not analogous (won't even mention that DOS and Windows are separate operating systems with distinct kernels, etc).

    This statement is as correct as saying Vista has a GUI based on a 105-key keyboard.

    SCIM is an input method platform independent on the GUI. GTK GUI is an widget toolkit, independent on SCIM (although they *may* used each other). Neither is "based" on the other.

    If you want to emphasize that the Express Gate supports users of many different languages and nationalities you can mention that the GUI USES SCIM.