Bios, Box Contents and System Setup

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Asus chose to go with the Phoenix Bios for their A7N8X motherboard and as usual has included a lot of options for tweakers and overclockers alike. This first image of the Advanced Chipset Features menu shows where most of the great features are. Here you can choose the front-side bus of the processor by steppings of 1 MHz from 100 MHz to 200 MHz and then you have options of 204, 207 and 211 MHz FSB. Multiplier settings are also available should you have an unlocked processor, and go as high as 17x, though its usability is limited. One advantage that many of the KT400 motherboards have over the nForce2 motherboards is the ability to change the multiplier of an Athlon XP processor without having to modify the CPU at all – this is something that doesn’t exist on the nForce2 chipset that I can see. (If you want to see more on that feature of the KT400 chipset, see my KT400 roundup.) Update: I have gotten a few emails saying that the A7N8X does in fact unlock the processors like the KT400 motherboards do. I am in the process of updating my bios and testing this out. Thanks to those who wrote in!

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The A7N8X bios allows you to set the memory frequency by percentages rather than by numbers; a result of the type of clocks that the nForce2 chipset uses. There a lots of options for you to select: By Spd (auto select), 50%, 60%, 66%, 75%, 80%, 83%, Sync (same as FSB), 120%, 125%, 150%, 166%, and 200%. How this works is fairly simple. As you can see in the screenshot above, I have the FSB set to 211 MHz and the FSB speed at 200% meaning that the memory would run at 200% or 2x the speed of the FSB, thus running at 423 MHz. I didn’t run the board or processor at 211 MHz, this was done to show the top settings in the screenshot above. As you can see as well, there are many options for memory latencies and timings – most anything you might want to adjust are available to you there.

You can change the Vcore of the processor up to 1.85v by 0.025v steppings. This is one area I thought Asus was behind in as many other nForce2 and KT400 motherboards are offering voltages above 2.0v to be set via the bios menus.

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Farther down on the list of the items on this same bois screen are some even more intriguing and unique features. First, we have the AGP Frequency setting, which allows the user to independently choose the AGP frequency of anywhere from 66 MHz to 100 MHz in single steps. You can also adjust the AGP voltages to either 1.5, 1.6 or 1.7v and even have the option to disable or enable the 8X AGP support – something that no KT400 motherboard offers.

Memory (DDR) voltages are adjustable from 2.6-2.8v as well in this menu.

The rest of the bios is fairly standard, allowing you to enable or disable any and all of the onboard features of the motherboard including individual NIC controllers, audio, etc. Asus has included a decent hardware monitor so that you check speeds, temperatures and voltages very easily in the BIOS.

Box Contents

Asus packed the Deluxe model motherboard with most of the tools you will need to take full advantage of their motherboard. Included are two Serial ATA cables, two Firewire headers to attach to motherboard and a back plate for you case that forms to the Asus A7N8X Deluxe form factor. They also included two IDE cables, a floppy cable, a header with 2 additional USB ports and a game port on it and also a header with an additional serial connector, should you need that.

System Setup

The system setup is the replica of the same components we have been using since the launch of the 333 MHz front-side bus processors back in October. I decided to go ahead and compare the production A7N8X motherboard to the pre-production board as well as the Leadtek nForce2 motherboard that we have reviewed previously. Here it is in table format:

AMD Test System Setup
CPU 1 x 2.17 GHz AMD Athlon XP 2700+ Processor
Motherboards Asus A7N8X nForce2 Motherboard
Leadtek K7NCR18D nForce2 Motherboard
Asus A7N8X nForce2 Motherboard (Pre-Production)
Memory 2 x 256MB Corsair Micro XMS3200 DDR DRAM
Hard Drive 80 GB 7200 RPM IBM EIDE
Video Card ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
Video Drivers 61.66
Operating System Windows XP w/ Service Pack 1

Tests:

Quake III: Arena
Unreal Tournament 2K3
3DMark 2001
SiSoft Sandra Memory Bench
SiSoft Sandra CPU Bench
Content Creation Winstone 2001
Business Winstone 2001
SPECviewperf 7
Cachemem
ScienceMark

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