Software ABIT continues the tradition of "no frills" software, but as always, I see no problem with this. Software is the furthest thing from my mind when I'm making a decision on which motherboard to buy. I'm looking at features, chipset options, specs and just about anything but software. Still, you'll get everything you'll need to get this motherboard up and running for peak performance. Not to mention Acrobat Readers, Award Flash, DX9.0, Format Utility and Hardware Doctor. Most of us prefer MBM5.x but Hardware Doctor is a quick easy program to monitor temps and voltages.
BIOS The BIOS is truly the heart and soul of your motherboard. If you plan overclocking and tweaking your system, your going do it in the BIOS. And when it comes to SoftMenu™ technology, nobody can touch ABIT. Their foundation is simply this. Give the consumer more options and more flexibility to induce higher performance than the competition. Time and time again they succeed and excel in this area. When I booted into the BIOS for the first time with the IC7-G I was floored at the sheer amount of options there were to set and adjust.
First things first. Initially there were some timing discrepancies with the original shipping BIOS. Those issues and others have been easily cleared up with the release of the latest IC71.1 BIOS Update available on ABIT's website. I also noticed after loading this latest BIOS we went from a maximum of 300MHz CPU Bus to 414MHz CPU Bus! As if 300 wasn't enough, we now have over double what the current fastest processor is running at default.
Above we see all our option for CPU, Ext. Clock, N/B Strap, DRAM Ratio, AGP Ratio, Fixed AGP/PCI Freq, CPU DDR and AGP Voltages. This is easily the most flexible Intel based motherboard I have ever seen when it comes to increasing voltages, FSB and AGP Ratio's. You can literally run any combination of CPU/FSB speed yet keep all your components in spec and not have to worry about HD corruption, lack of AGP or loss of LAN connectivity due to PCI/AGP overclocking. Yes, other motherboards have done this, but never quite implemented as cleanly as what the IC7-G is doing. Also notice the estimated New CPU Clock which adjusts itself in real-time following any increase in FSB.
Options from 100 to 412 FSB
Want to run 400, 533, 677 or 800MHz FSB? Choose here.
DRAM Ratio. Got memory that can't hack 200MHz or faster? Set to 5:4 or 3:2 to ease it up a bit.
Not sure if the "fixed" value works? Set CPU:AGP:PCI to your liking.
Type in your AGP/PCI freq manually
DDR, CPU and AGP Voltage settings
DDR Voltage settings top out at 2.8v. While I would like to see options to go higher for the hardcore overclockers out there and well known voltage hogs like GeIL, 2.8v will be enough for most of us. CPU voltages on the other hand should be more than enough to overclock your processor to levels never seen before. Our 3.0C starts at a default core voltage of 1.55. The IC7-G gives us the option to move all the way up to 1.925v. Voltages at these levels will even give the best water cooled and TEC rigs a run for their money trying to keep the heat manageable. Finally we have AGP Voltage settings. Less tolerable than most peripherals, we don't have much playing room here. And to be honest, with my 400$+ video card, I'm not looking for anything higher than the 1.65v that is provided here.
Advanced Chipset Features
Above we have the Advanced Chipset Features screen that give us the ability to set our memory timings and options from very relaxed to extremely aggressive. Below are a few of these settings if you have some capable memory. If your looking for extreme performance, I suggest investing in some top-end memory.
More goodies for the enthusiast in all of us.
Lets take a look at the BIOS during boot up below. You'll notice that both HT and Dual Channel DDR are enabled which will give us increased performance that we'll expand upon later.
Not only does the BIOS show you that the CPU is overclocked and running @3.5GHz. It also shows you the Stock speed of the CPU as well. The little niceties like this are stacking up quickly and making the experience with this motherboard that much more pleasant.
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