ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review :: Bios and Overclocking

03-22-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Tulatin

While mostly sensible, we do have a few minor quibbles with the ever standard Award Workstation Bios ECS has employed here. First and foremost, we'd wished they had planted the DIMM control menu in the Frequency Control panel. While it might not be as bothersome as some of Asus' multi-tier efforts, it's still a pest to have to dance all across the bios when overclocking. Thankfully, with a combination of Athlon 64 Tweaker00 and Systool, it'll be available from our fingertips in windows.

There are a few things about this motherboard that every enterprising overclockers should know. First off, if you want to change your clock settings from inside windows, the motherboard isn't officially supported by any of the big utilities. Still, we decided to try Systool, and after a quick look under the hood, we found that the motherboard featured an ICS 951420 chip. That's painfully close to what we decided to try, the ICS 951422, which, surprisingly worked perfectly. The second thing for you overclockers out there to know is that if you've got a CPU with a low FSB ceiling, and happen to have a certain multiplier you're picky about running it at, the motherboard features all the way up to a 4:5 ratio.

That means, at stock speeds, you've got the option to run your memory at 216, 233 and 250 MHz - three options which are so far off the norm, the last time we saw them on a motherboard it failed to work miserably. Now, before the wrong impression is given (knowing my luck it already has), these options work like a charm. They go hand in hand with the slightly extended range of DDR tweaking options, and a conservative voltage option (3V) to allow most users to be able to clock most low voltage DDR with ease. It should also allow some users with lightning fast memory (DDR600) to push it to the very limit, even if the CPU poops out early.

On the topic of voltages, our initial impressions were along the lines of "oh come on" when we saw a maximum of 1.55V there. That is, until we found the VID boost - with the ability to give up to another .175V, we found that our initial impression became one of "oh man I hope they've got good cooling for 1.725V". The third of these "things to note" for overclockers is the full ability of tweaks and tricks - lowering memory clocks, HTT frequencies, and multipliers may seem like lunacy to some, but the ability to adjust all of these things will definitely help out in the overclocking process. As to the maximum HTT this motherboard was able to achieve, it topped out at a modest 265MHz. While some users might shake their heads at this, keep in mind that this isn't a purpose built, purebred overclocking board, and usually maximum FSBs come from luck of the draw. Well, that and having better cooling than a passive sink with no airflow.