The AMI BIOS screen layout is a typical double column of sub-menus available for setup. Standard CMOS Features displays the date and time as well as detected drives and system information, which contains only non-configurable CPU specifications.
Advanced BIOS and Integrated Peripherals has more detailed information about the various onboard components such as video, network, audio and peripheral controllers. The boot order of detected drives can be set as well as the controller format including ACPI and RAID function. If you plan to use the onboard graphics, take particular note of the UMA and Sideport settings as these control the speed and size of graphics memory used. As mentioned previously and can be confirmed above, the sideport memory speed defaults to only 400MHz despite 128Mb DDR3-1333 being listed in the specifications. This must be manually changed to 667MHz to realize its full potential. MSI claims up to a 15% boost in performance with dedicated sideport memory in addition to whatever shared UMA system memory is allocated.
The Hardware Monitor shows current voltages for the CPU and three main power supply rails, however readings for DDR, NB and other components are not indicated. Smart Fan controls allow automatic variation of fan speed based on temperature and load, and CPU Phase Control offers power savings when in idle state.
The M-Flash screen allows for BIOS upgrades from a USB drive without having to cold boot the system. You can also save your current BIOS file to USB. The Overclocking Profile page offers six slots to save different BIOS settings in order to quickly restore after a CMOS reset or switch between various levels of overclock.
The last sub-menu Cell is by far the most in depth. This is where individual component frequencies such as CPU, FSB, NB, VGA, RAM, etc. can be tweaked, as well as voltages and memory timings. An OC Genie Lite setting offers simplified "automatic" overclocking, similar to the functionality of the OC dip switches we saw earlier on the motherboard. Also, just as with the sideport memory frequency, the onboard graphics chip defaults to a less-than-rated 500MHz speed despite MSI claiming 700MHz core for the HD4290. The Onboard VGA Core Overclock setting must be changed to Enabled in order for the 700MHz clock speed to kick in.
Memory SPD information and timing control can be accessed from the Memory-Z and Advanced DRAM Configuration sections. The FSB/DRAM ratio is where the speed of the memory is selected. Although MSI lists OC memory speeds of DDR3-1800 and 2133 in the motherboard specifications, a 1:4 or 1600 is the highest available in the menu. Of course, faster memory speeds can always be attempted by increasing the reference clock, but it would be nice to have a 2:9 and 3:16 available.
Now that we've reviewed the BIOS settings, let's try some overclocking.