An Overclocking God!
Now this is where the fun begins. ASUS has for the past three years seen the light of the overclockers market, partly because they wanted to increase their shares, but mostly to nock ABIT out of the top enthusiast motherboard manufacturers spot, and in my honest opinion have managed to do that.
ASUS uses an Award BIOS 6.0, however, the layout is almost unique to ASUS, only Albatron and Intel Desktop boards use the menu system rather than the old blue interface.
To find the overclocking features you need to select the advanced tab from the top menu, from there it's pretty simple to find the functions you want. The Jumperfree section is where all the overclocking settings are available for your selection.
ASUS, like Gigabyte and MSI now incorporates an automatic overclocking system. MSI calls it Core Cell, Gigabytes is CPU Intelligent Overclocking and ASUS calls it AI Overclock. Under the Jumperfree menu is the AI Overclocking feature which has four settings - Auto (Default), Overclock Profile, AI N.O.S and Manual.
Overclock profile sets a determined FSB and memory ratio, which stays at that speed no matter what. AI N.O.S works on system usage. You can adjust from 5% up to 15% overclock ratio. When the system status reaches 100% CPU usage for a certain amount of time, the FSB, Memory and CPU voltages are raised incrementally until they hit the % that is set. Manual setting releases all the overclocking options to the user to adjust at their own free will.
First setting is the System Clock mode. This can be set from Auto, Linked or Manual. On auto you simply overclock the FSB from 100MHz up to 400MHz in 1MHz increments. When set to linked, the memory is overclocked at the same rate as the FSB depending on the divider used. In manual mode, you can raise the FSB without clocking the memory, and overclock the memory without clocking the FSB. DRAM selection in this setting is from 200MHz up to 1600MHz DDR (though the latter is a very unrealistic setting, but how knows in a few more months what memory may arrive).
PCI Express Frequency allows you to select what speed you want your PCI Express clock to run at. Settings are from 100MHz up to 148MHz in 0.025MHz increments. PCI Express is very sensitive to clocks above 100MHz; in fact PCI-E slots begin to show instability at even 105MHz - leaving it at 100MHz is the best option.
The Voltage options that ASUS give you are simply amazing. In all there are 5 separate voltages. The most important are the first two - CPU and memory. CPU voltages can be adjusted from 1.0v up to 1.7v in 0.025v increments. Memory voltage is selectable from 18.v up to 2.4v in 0.1v increments.
FSB termination voltage controls the voltage that is used on the CPU to Northbridge link; this is very helpful for extreme FSB overclocking. Settings are from 1.215v up to a maximum of 1.415v in 0.015v increments.
Northbridge voltage is used to stabilise the Northbridge when overclocking the FSB, Memory and Hyper Transport links. Setting range is from 1.4v to 1.6v in 0.1v increments.
Southbridge voltage is used to stabilise the SATA, PCI and Hyper Transport links when the system is in extreme overclocking setups voltage range is from 1.4v to 1.6v.
ASUS also provides a sub menu called performance options. In here you can control the EMI Spread Spectrum settings for SATA, NB/SB Strap, DRAM and a few other tweaks. The most interesting one is the Hyper Transport link speed; you can adjust the width and the speed of the Northbridge to Southbridge Link. You can set the Uplink to either 8 or 16 bits and set the speed to 600, 800 or 1000MHz. the Downlink options are the same, and can be set independent from the Uplink speed, though why you would want to change them considering that 16 bit at 1000Mhz would be the best option, and they are totally asynchronous from the system clocks, meaning they don't change when the FSB changes, unlike AMD Athlon 64 CPU's.
With all these features you would expect us to get a good amount of overclocking out of this board, you are not wrong here. We raised the CPU voltage to 1.5v, Memory to 2.2v, FSB term voltage to max, NB and SB voltages at 1.5v, PCI Express locked to 100, Hyper Transport links at 1000MHz and 16bit connection we managed to hit a FSB of over 361MHz - a record for any Intel Pentium 4 board we have tested so far. We also kept the memory locked at 800MHz DDR to eliminate any memory limitations which is easy through the asynchronous nature of the nVidia chipset.