ECS A785GM-AD3 Black Series Motherboard
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 02-11-2010
Provided by: ECS

The Main Menu, Standard CMOS setup and Advanced setup screens give a basic overview of the BIOS that are common to almost every motherboard. This is where time and date can be set, detection and boot order of attached drives and other boot features like numlock, self test and AMD Cool-n-Quiet power saving feature can be determined.

The Advanced Chipset and Integrated Peripherals screens allow you to control many of the onboard components such as the IGP options, HDMI audio, SATA controller, LAN and USB. For those interested in using the HD4200 integrated graphics, the BIOS does allow for manual adjustment of the IGP frequency and how much of the system memory is reserved for graphics. Unfortunately there is no dedicated sideport memory available on the A785GM-AD3.

Power Management, PCI/PnP and PC Health Status screens allow control over the board power saving and temperature control settings. The PC Health screen also displays the current CPU, NB and system temperatures as well as operating voltages for CPU, NB and DIMM. The NB temperature shown does not relate to the memory controller in the CPU die, this reading is from the chipset. As you can see, it is the highest temp in the group, and this was only a few minutes after POST. We ran into the exact same problem when using the onboard video on the previous ECS Black Series, without a fan on the chipset heatsink the IGP will drive the temperature through the roof. How high is that you ask? Let's just see...

You're reading that correctly, 77 C or 170 F, and that is just sitting idle in the BIOS. Unfortunately I can't get a reading of this temp from within the OS to see how high it gets under load, nor am I sure I even want to. At 77 C the heatsink is already too hot to touch. Placing a fan on the heatsink, even a relatively modest one like the stock AMD cooler fan, will lower the temps drastically, down to 23 C. That's a reduction of over 50 C, and the fan adds very little noise. In my opinion ECS either needs to include a fan here or redesign this heatsink so that it does a better job of cooling.

The M.I.B. II and Memory Configuration screens are where overclockers and enthusiasts will likely spend most of their time with the A785GM-AD3 BIOS. Here is where it is possible to adjust frequency, voltage and timings of the processor and memory. I would like to point out that the HT Frequency setting is actually the multiplier adjustment, although there is no similar option for the NB. This will become important later on when attempting to overclock. The other setting I'd like to note is the Advanced Clock Calibration or ACC, which we'll look at next.

ECS touts their "Special ACC" setting which they claim "provides stable unlocking of hidden cores within the AMD processors". AMD's ACC setting originally debuted with the SB750, and was claimed to assist overclockers by providing more stability between the CPU and other board components. It was quickly discovered that enabling this feature had another effect, that of re-enabling cores on some Deneb-based X3 and X2 processors that had been disabled at the factory. The SB710 has the same functionality, and here we see that by enabling the ACC setting and rebooting, the Sempron 140 processor is detected as an Athlon II X2 4400e. While that model name does not actually exist in AMD's lineup, it is consistent with what others have seen with successful unlocks of the Sempron processor.

Voltage adjustments are made by selecting an increase to add to the base amount, as opposed to actually changing the VID. Using this method, up to +160mv can be added to the CPU default of 1.35v for a total of 1.51v possible. While this doesn't give much room for overclocking, it is probably limited by the board's low power design. The DIMM voltage in comparison can supply up to +630mv over stock, yielding more than 2.2v total, a significant amount for most DDR3 memory.

The NB voltage listed is deceiving since in this case it pertains to the chipset and not the processor's integrated memory controller as you may think. You certainly won't want to increase this value without some active cooling on the motherboard heatsink, and there's really no practical need to raise it anyway, unless you plan to overclock the IGP. The SB voltage has a small amount of adjustment possible, but again you'll find there is very little need to have to increase this.

Let's get an OS loaded and run through some testing.

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