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OCGuru 'Turbo Mode' Display
provides you with an interface for adjusting your system speeds. The
'Turbo Mode' shown above only allows you to set the FSB, or to save
and load presets. Other than that, it displays some information about
the CPU you are running.
The 'F1 Mode' tab provides you with a bit more..........
OCGuru 'F1 Mode' Display
have the ability to set the CPU, AGP, and DIMM voltages, in addition
to the FSB.
mode, I wouldn't recommend actually trying to change these settings.
Every time I tried to adjust the FSB, the thing just locked up.
Flash Menu and Black Box
remaining utilities, Flash Menu and Black Box, are pretty straight
forward. Flash Menu is nothing more than a Windows based BIOS flash
utility that can download BIOS updates automatically, thus preventing
you from accidentally downloading and flashing the wrong BIOS on your
mobo, and making the process relatively simple. Black Box simply
allows you to store information about your system configuration, so
that if you have a problem, Abit tech support can have a simple and
easy way to find out how your system is configured.
is very similar to the NF7-S in design, so it is not unreasonable to
expect it to perform like the NF7-S. Indeed, it does. Just one
example of the similarity, SiSoft's Sandra. The tests were conducted
using SiSoft's Sandra2004 software and OCZ Platinum EL3200 memory
with Trp 3, Trcd 3, Tcas 3.0, Tras 11 timings at 200 Mhz FSB. The CPU
was the AthlonXP 2400+ Mobile clocked at 200x11 (2.2 Ghz):
AN7 Sandra Memory Performance
NF7-S Sandra Memory Performance
As you can
see, the performance of the AN7 and the NF7-S are similar to within
the margin of error of Sandra.
Note: In cleaning up this article for presentation, I tried to get some
better screen captures. Unfortunately, I had done the original screen
captures under Windows 2000. When I went to redo the screen shots for
the AN7, I had installed Windows XP. This is the reason for the slight
difference in the dialog boxes shown above. Nonetheless, the results I
obtained under Windows XP were consistent with the original results
taken under Windows 2000.
I was able
to overclock the FSB to 241 Mhz on the AN7 vs. 221 Mhz on my NF7-S
running at 2.9v VDIMM and 1.6v Chipset, but I don't know if I just
happened to get a good board or not. In either case, I am pretty
certain my memory is holding back my FSB. Both boards act like they
want to go further. Interestingly, neither board showed any gain in
stability by increasing the Chipset voltage. If anything, they became
So whats not to like?
this is a solid board and would be a worthy successor to the NF7-S.
In fact, other reviews have shown the AN7 to be so similar in
performance to the NF7-S that I almost chose not to benchmark the
board at all. In the end I chose to concentrate not so much on the
performance, as the other things that are valuable to overclockers;
things like support in widely used utilities such as Motherboard
As many of
you know, MBM 5 is a staple tool among overclockers. It has a simple,
no-frills interface that gives you the information you need. In
addition, 8rdavcore is a handy utility for tweaking many settings on
the nForce2 boards from within Windows. Even Nvidias own NVSU
and the Winbond hardware monitor have a place in the overclockers
tool kit. It is exceedingly disappointing, then, that Abit have made
the decision to not only change the architecture of the AN7 so that
it doesnt work with these tools, but to not even release the
information necessary for the authors of these tools to make them
work. (It is true that the author of MBM has been able to finally
figure out how to talk to µGuru, but this was without the aid
of Abit.) Instead, Abit have written their own set of utilities.
software is, I feel, a pathetic attempt at an overclocking tool
written by people who dont understand what overclockers want.
The software is, in my experience, unstable. It lacks significant
flexibility in configuration, and the overclocking options are a
joke. The OCGuru software only allows you to twiddle the FSB and
voltage settings. There is no provision for changing the CPU
multiplier or DRAM timings; these can only be changed in the BIOS.
This is probably just as well, because when trying to adjust the FSB,
even from 200 to 201 Mhz, the system would almost always simply lock
up, and I would be forced to reboot and make the setting change in
the BIOS anyway. Attempting to use the OC on the fly
option in the BIOS often resulted in the same behavior, so I suspect
the problem is actually in the μGuru controller. In addition,
because I use water cooling, I had the BIOS configured to ignore the
fan information. Despite this, I would still periodically get the fan
failure alarm, which is why I wrote this review with my CPU HSF
When I got
my AN7, the first thing I did was try to get a BIOS update. I was
informed that I had to download the latest Flash Menu utility before
I could flash the new bios. When I downloaded the new utility and
installed it, a NEW Start Menu entry was created for Flash Menu,
despite the fact that I already had an existing entry as part of the
µGuru software installation. Worse, when I click on the old
Flash Menu utility, that simply crashes, and I can't uninstall it
without also uninstalling the other µGuru utilities.
Box utility is a nice idea, but it requires the user to MANUALLY
enter a lot of information that it should be able to detect on its
own; things like the type of CPU installed, the type of motherboard
and the BIOS version, the operating system installed, etc., etc.
the only piece of software in this package that seemed to work
without a hitch was the FanEq. This has a relatively simple interface
and seems to do what it is designed to do. However, the same thing
can be accomplished in the BIOS (which you are going to be spending a
lot of time in, anyway, if you try to overclock this board).
problem I encountered while working with this system is that I was
not able to get my FSB over about 210 or 211 Mhz without experiencing
problems with my Ethernet interface. Troubleshooting with some people
on the Abit support forums lead us to the conclusion that the south
bridge was getting too hot. Unfortunately, I killed the board before
I was able to test this theory; however, the south bridge chip DOES
run rather hot (as high as 65C surface temp), so Abit might want to
consider putting a heat sink on this chip in the future. As well,
anyone running any nForce2 based board, particularly with the MCP-T
south bridge, should consider some cooling for the chip.
about me killing the board: As a simple experiement, I tried setting
Trp from 2 to 1. I really didn't expect this to work, so I wasn't
surprised when the board failed to reboot. Imagine my surprise,
however, when I discovered that the board had blown its flash. I
ended up having to hot-flash the BIOS chip by booting my NF7-S,
installing my AN7 ROM and then using AWDFLASH with the -f option to
force it to flash the AN7 BIOS while in the NF7-S. Once that was
done, I was then able to reboot on my AN7. An examination of the BIOS
while it was in the NF7-S revealed that it had been COMPLETELY wiped.
After I got the AN7 back up, I was able to put a HSF on the south
bridge, and the board was stable up to 241 Mhz clock on the FSB. I
haven't tried this experiment on my NF7-S or any other board, so I
don't know if they all suffer from the same problem or not. In any
case, the BIOS shouldn't allow you to make a setting that will
literally destroy your board. That is just poor software design.