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Gigabyte 8N-SLI Quad Royal - Discussed and Tested

By: Cameron Johnson | NVIDIA Chipset in Motherboards | Posted: Jan 25, 2006 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: Gigabyte



Gigabyte uses the Award Modular BIOS version 6, which is pretty much the BIOS of choice for any motherboard these days, as AMI seems to be the less used BIOS on enthusiast motherboards. While being Award branded, it resembles the AMI setup in its simplicity and style, but don't let this fool you as the options for your tweaking and overclocking are vast and numerous.


Gigabyte places all of its overclocking options in the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) Menu with two extra sub menu's to tweak the living hell out of your board.


First option is the C.A.M and this option is new. There are three options: High, Low and Auto. According to the menu the explanation for this option is for locked frequency CPU's to high or low mode. Setting this didn't change any of our overclocking results.


Next is the CPU Ratio control. If you purchase a Pentium Extreme Edition CPU this is where you will change your default multiplier, as all Extreme Editions CPU's are multiplier unlocked, a great feature for your money.


On all of Gigabyte's top model boards is the C.I.A.2 automatic overclocking feature. In the C.I.A.2 setup you have Cruise, Sports, Racing, Turbo and Full Thrust options, which overclock the CPU to a set percentage when the load on the CPU is 100% for 10 or more seconds. You can disable this to overclock the FSB manually.


FSB turbo mode is used to keep the FSB from fluctuating when under load, this option should be disabled for manual overclocking, as it tends to cause instability in the system.


System Clock mode is where you start to manipulate memory and FSB speeds. There are three options here. Optimal prevents any changes by the user. Linked mode keeps the memory clock and FSB linked, so any FSB increases overclocks the memory. In Expert mode, the FSB and memory clocks work Asynchronous; this means you can input any FSB speed and the memory will stay at the specified speed the user inputs. And vice versa, if you want to overclock the RAM and not the FSB, you simply change the RAM speed and the FSB remains the same.


After this Gigabyte gives a few readouts such as current FSB speed, Projected FSB speed when changing the clocks as well as current DDR2 speed and projected DDR2 speeds. This lets you gauge what speed you system will be running at even before you save and exit the setup menu, a very helpful thing indeed, after all, who wants to do the math themselves when you can have the BIOS do it for you.


Next you have the PCIe x16 Slot Lanes. This allows you to setup in BIOS the SLI function. You can split the two PCI Express x16 lanes down to the four PCI-Express x8 lanes for Quad SLI. You can split only one of the PCI Express x16 lanes down for three graphics cards - whatever you want to do, this board is extremely flexible.


Robust Graphics Booster is Gigabyte's version of the ASUS PEG Link speed setting. When set to auto, the graphics and memory clocks are left at default speeds. If you set this to fast, the memory and core clocks of the video cards are overclocked by up to 5%. Turbo mode gives you up to 10%, depending on load on the GPU.


Now we get into the voltage section of the board. In order to get to the voltage settings you need access the Advanced Voltage Control sub-menu of the M.I.T menu. The first setting is the CPU voltage. You can adjust the voltage range from 1.0v up to 1.75v in 0.0125v increments. This allows you to use Presler, Prescott, Smithfield and Gallatin cores and give them all a pretty good voltage boost for your overclocking needs.


Next is DIMM voltage. This has been a pretty sore point in Gigabyte's past, as they simply haven't given enough voltage in order to overclock. The 8N-SLI Quad Royal breaks this rule. You can adjust from default voltage up to a max of +0.55v in 0.05v increments. In real world voltage this means you can go from DDR-2's default of 1.8v up to 2.35v, not the highest we have seen, but for quite a few DDR-2 modules out there on the market, it's more than enough. OCZ memory is rated to 2.2v DDR-2 and still warranted, so this board gives just that bit extra for headroom.


Next is the Northbridge voltage. This is used in order to stabilise the Northbridge, PCI Express x1 ports and the first two PCI Express x16 ports when overclocking. You can set it from default up to +0.55v in 0.05v increments. This gives from 1.5v up to a max of 2.05v.


Following the Northbridge voltage is, you guessed it, Southbridge voltage. This is also used to stabilise the Southbridge and the second 2 PCI Express x16 slots when overclocking, and does a great job of keeping the SATA clocks stable when clocks go up. You can raise the voltage from default up to a max of +0.55v in 0.05v increments. This gives you the same as the Northbridge, 1.5v up to 20.5v.


Next comes the front side bus Overvoltage. This one is used to give the Netburst bus a extra voltage jump when overclocking. You can adjust the FSB Overvoltage from its default up to a max of +0.175v in 0.025v increments. This means you get from 1.2v up to 1.35v.


There is one final sub-menu in the Gigabyte M.I.T setup. This is called the Advanced Frequency Control Menu. Here there are two extra options. First is the PCIe Frequency control. You can set the PCIe Frequency from 100MHz to a maximum of 200MHz in 1MHz increments. PCIe buses are extremely sensitive to overclocking and cause the most instability in overclocked situations. PCIe is known to fail at even 7% overclocks. Best idea is to leave it at 100MHz to keep all PCIe devices at stock speeds.


The final option is the LDT Frequency. AMD users will know this setting; it is used to control Hyper Transport multipliers. Now a lot of people might ask why there is an AMD Hyper Transport used on the Intel system. Hyper Transport is used to interconnect the North and Southbridges. They are clocked using the exact same setup as the AMD Athlon 64 CPU to External Northbridge at 1000MHz, 800MHz, 600MHz and so on. This gives the most robust and fastest interconnect speed of any chipset out there on the market. Under this menu you have the ability to change the multiplier from 1x up to 5x. This gives you a 2000MT/s connection between to the two chipsets, more than enough to handle the extra PCIe x16 graphics system used on the Southbridge.


We stuck a Pentium Extreme Edition 840 into our system. We managed to get a FSB clock of 325MHz out of the system, CPU voltage of 1.45v, DDR-2 voltage set to 2.0v, Northbridge and Southbridge voltages at stock and the FSB voltage at maximum and we left the LDT speed at 4x.


In all we were very impressed with the overclockability of the Gigabyte 8N-SLI Quad Royal, it has plenty to offer.

Gigabyte GA-8N-SLI Royal Motherboard


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