BIOS and Overclocking
Typically budget boards skimp on BIOS features, but not on the EP-8NPA SLI. The EP-8NPA SLI BIOS comes with all the features to keep the tweaker very happy which is something customers have come to expect from EPoX.
Starting with the Advanced Chipset options, you can adjust the HT frequency from 1x to 5x and change your DRAM timings.
EPoX always has a lot of memory adjustments, and as you can see above, you can get pretty lost with all the options.
For system health (pictured above), EPoX monitors all your critical information, all of which is accessible from within Windows using either the USDM or the Thunder Probe software. Under “Smart Fan” there are options to adjust fan speed by either PWM (pulse width modulation) if your fan supports it, or by temperature (voltage modulation). PWM offers finer control over fan speed than typical voltage modulation.
The EP-8NPA SLI supports PWM fan control by using the
“Duty Cycle” setting.
For overclocking, you have all the voltage adjustments, frequency, and multipliers necessary to do the job.
- CPU frequency ranges from 200MHz to 400MHz
- PCI-E 100 – 145 MHz
- CPU multiplier from 4x to CPU’s default
- CPU voltage: -0.1V to +0.05V by 0.025V increments.
- DIMM voltage: 2.5V to 3.1V
- Chipset Voltage: 1.5V to 1.8V
For overclocking, I adjusted the CPU multiplier down to 8x from 10x, and increased the CPU voltage to 1.525V instead of 1.5. Memory was set to 133MHz and timings were changed to 2T instead of 1T timings, and CAS 2.5 from CAS 2. Applying these settings helps remove the memory and CPU from being bottlenecks to overclocking.
I was only able to get to 280MHz at 3x HT, and 274MHz at 4x HT. For an nForce 4 motherboard, the result is far from the 300+ MHz bus that is typical of Socket 939 models. However it would be more appropriate to compare the EP-8NPA to other Socket 754 nForce 4 systems, but unfortunately we don’t have any others to test against. You may be able to get better results by increasing the chipset voltage which I did not do here.