Upon booting up the ECS A780GM-A Ultra we are greeted by the Elitegroup Black Series splash screen and prompted to hit Del to get into the setup. The BIOS is AMI, American Megatrends version 2.62, and features a menu style list on the main screen, rather than having each appear as column headings across the top. This is like most Phoenix Award BIOS and a layout I much prefer over the other. All of the standard settings common to most motherboards are listed down the left side, beginning with the most basic page, Standard CMOS Setup. This is where the date and time are set, and any drives specified, whether IDE, SATA or floppy.
The list continues with Advanced Setup, which contains settings specific to the processor, such as the HyperTransport Frequency (multiplier), Virtualization, AMD Cool and Quiet and Enhanced Halt State (C1E) options. This is also where the boot options, order and drives are specified. The Advanced Chipset Setup page allows control over the integrated IGP graphics clock speed and memory usage, as well as enabling/disabling the HDMI audio and memory controller state. Integrated Peripherals contains settings for the onboard IDE, SATA, USB and Network controllers.
Power Management controls the power saving/suspend mode and resume options. The PCI/PnP Setup is very sparse, containing only one setting which really isn't even needed, as the onboard video state can be controlled from the Advanced Chipset page. PC Health Status shows current readings from the various temperature, fan speed and voltage sensors, as well as offering the ability to enable Smart Fan values and specify a shutdown temp. That last setting is very important to set in order to prevent possible processor damage in case your CPU heatsink or fan fails, however I'm a bit surprised that a lower value isn't available. I usually like to set my shutdown temp around 60° C.
All settings relating to overclocking, with exception of the HT Frequency option found in Advanced Setup, are located on the M.I.B. II page, short for Motherboard Intelligent BIOS. It contains all the details pertaining to clock speed, timings and voltage for the processor and memory. The CPU Function allows the FID and VID (multiplier and voltage) to be manually set, or left to auto-detect. The Memory Configuration likewise allows manual control of speed and timings, or remain defaulted to auto. Timings can be individually adjusted based on channel bank or altered together in tandem, although ganged or unganged mode of the memory controller is set under the Advanced Chipset Setup.
The Voltage Function can be enabled to allow adjustment to CPU, RAM, CPU Northbridge and Southbridge. Rather than specifying a specific VID, these settings can be selected to increase voltage by a certain increment. For example, the CPU voltage can be increased anywhere from +0 to +300mV in 20mV increments. Coupled with the option to set a CPU VID of up to 1.55V, the total voltage supplied to the processor can be up to 1.85V, more than enough to cook most modern chips. Likewise, DDR voltage can be increased up to +600mV in 20mV increments, yielding a maximum of 2.5V to your DDR2.
NB voltage, which is specified to be 1.15V stock, is already defaulted to 1.2V upon enabling the Voltage Function control. Up to +315mV can be further applied, giving a max of 1.465V. SB voltage options are fewer, with only 1.2 - 1.35V possible in 50mV increments. The last setting to discuss on this page is the new feature introduced with the SB750, that of Advanced Clock Calibration or ACC. Without making quite clear how it works, other than it addresses six previously-unused pins in the socket interface, AMD has stated that ACC can assist enthusiasts to gain extra stability of K10 processors by enabling this feature. While previous chipset implementations were fixed at a -2% value, ACC allows this to be adjusted anywhere from -12% to +12%. Rather than directly affecting CPU clock speed, the ACC value seems to be possibly related to timing between the CPU and SB, theoretically giving users the option to increase this in order to allow higher overclocks or decrease it if lower power consumption is desired. This value can be adjusted for all cores, for each individual core or left to Auto set.
Next let's try some overclocking and perform some testing.