Top Hat Flash
What do you do when you want to include dual BIOS functionality, but want to keep the board low in cost? ECS' solution:
They call it "Top Hat Flash". Basically, it's a second CMOS in a custom bracket that fits over the onboard chip. If you run into problems with the first one, stick this one on top of it, and reflash. Or even keep it there, and use it permanently.
I must say, it's a clever solution. I'd still take Gigabyte's dual CMOS method any day though.
Is the BIOS worth saving though?
What makes a BIOS good? There are several factors. First, it should have good 'health' features, like variable shutdown and warning temperatures across different devices.
Secondly, memory tweaking is a must. Even if you don't overclock your CPU, a little tweaking can go a long way on these NF4 boards.
Third of course, overclocking features. This includes a wide assortment of mutliplier settings (with 0.5x multiplier increments) and a vast array of voltage settings, in small increments.
Any motherboard calling itself "Extreme" should have at LEAST these three main attributes. Let's take a look:
You get a single shutdown temperature, and that's it. No fan settings, no warning alarms, nothing.
Memory Tweak Settings
The KN1 provides access to the four 'main' memory settings, and that's it. This is probably enough for most, but if you call yourself "Extreme" you have to do better than this. Most notably absent is the important Memory Command Rate, but luckily the default setting is already at 1T.
Overclocking / Voltage
Here, the KN1 fares slightly better. On the voltage front, the DIMM voltage goes all the way up to 3.11v, in 0.08v increments. CPU voltage can be set from +0.25V to +3.75V, in 0.25V increments. On a 1.5V processor, this is up to 1.8V, which is probably enough for most AMD CPUs. The CPU bus speed can be set up to 250 MHz in 2 MHz increments.
Oddly enough, the multiplier setting is found under the "Power Management" page. The CPU multiplier can be set from 4x to 25x, in 0.5x increments. Nice job!
Unfortunately, we had trouble overclocking our 3000+ (Winchester core; 1.8 GHz). I'll get to that later on.
So while the BIOS is somewhat surprizing, after seeing the rest of the board/bundle, it still leaves quite a bit to be desired, especially if you were expecting something geared towards the more hardcore enthusiasts.
Let's find out how the KN1 performs at REGULAR speeds though...
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