BIOS & Overclocking
Though the board itself looks a bit complicated, the BIOS controlling it is actually very simple. There aren’t any complicated features or adjustments here. Represented here are basic CPU and RAM adjustments, and device and peripheral settings. Anything outside of that like fan controls and serious overclocking options are absent, and considering the market for this board it isn’t too surprising.
<<BIOS Summary >>
In this screen you can see the CPU and RAM you have installed on your system. Here it shows the FX-53 plugged into the 939-pin socket, and two of the DIMMs occupied and using dual-channel.
<<BIOS CPU >>
Above we see the configuration screen for the CPU and memory. The CPU frequency is adjustable from 140 MHz up to 300 MHz. Multipliers are selectable from 8x to 25x. Finally, memory can run at 200 MHz up to 400 MHz with basic memory timings.
There were some issues with the BIOS I encountered during testing. The biggest problem was that when the FX-53 CPU was installed the BIOS would adjust the CPU multiplier to 25x and freeze the computer during power-up. The only way to fix this is to manually adjust the multiplier to your CPU’s default during the system’s first boot-up. Oddly, installing a Socket 754 CPU did not have this problem.
Another issue I encountered was that the memory was incorrectly detected by the BIOS. Instead of the default 400 MHz, it is automatically set at 333 MHz. Coincidentally this is the same problem we ran into with the ASRock K8 Upgrade 760GX.
<< BIOS chipset >>
Above we see the screen for chipset options. Here you set the options for the integrated video, hyper transport, and AGP.
<<BIOS Sys Health >>
Here is the System Health screen. As you can see it only reports the state of your system and doesn’t offer anything extra like fan controls or temperature alarms. The specs state that the board will shutdown if it is too hot, but it is not adjustable from the BIOS.
This is going to sound harsh, but the ASRock K8 Combo-Z is the worst overclocking motherboard I have tested to date. However, keep in mind that this motherboard is NOT intended for the overclocking crowd, but for a general market.
At the default multiplier of 12x and 400 MHz memory speed, I was able to get 208 MHz before benchmarks started to fail. Dropping the memory to 333 MHz did not help.
Using a multiplier of 11x and 333 MHz memory speed, I expected better results, but amazingly this was not the case. At this setting I got to 213MHz before failing to POST. This is only a measly 6 MHz gain above the 12x numbers above.
From the results above, it’s easy to see how this board is not intended for overclocking and tweaking.