When we accessed
the Phoenix Award BIOS Utility, we found that MSI included
an extensive selection of BIOS options for honing the
system's performance whether running at stock speeds or
overclocked. We found some of the options to be more
than what we typically see on other AMD based boards,
offering a lot of choices that should come in handy.
The CPU FSB
setting on the K7N2 Delta-ILSR ranges from 100-233MHz in
1MHz increments. The CPU Ratio allowed for multiplier
adjustments from 7x -13x and the VCORE started at 1.550v and
scaled to 1.800v in .025 increments. The DRAM could be
configured for By SPD, High Performance or Normal mode or
the timings could be configured manually. The DRAM
Voltage setting offered 3 options, 2.5, 2.6, or 2.7v.
There were a multitude of FSB/DRAM dividers to be found, but
we recommend keeping everything running synchronously at a
1:1 ratio. This will give you the best all around
performance scenario. Lastly, the AGP clock could also
be manually configured to run from 66-120MHz while the
voltage could be set for 1.5, 1.6, or 1.7v.
As you can see,
MSI clearly kept the overclocker in mind with this version
of the BIOS, giving the user the tools they need to maximize
performance and stability. Next we'll put this board
to the test in the performance arena.
HotHardware Test Systems
All The Way
K7N2-Delta ILSR Motherboard
Party" KT400A Motherboard
Deluxe Rev. 1.3
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB
AMD AthlonXP 2500+ Barton
512MB GEIL PC3500 DDR-RAM
Western Digital 30GB
ATA-100 7200RPM Hard Drive
Creative 52X CD-ROM
Windows XP Pro SP-1
VIA Hyperion 4.47
Nforce Drivers V2.03
The first thing we did when configuring this system was
enter the BIOS and "Load Optimized Defaults". We
then configured the Memory CAS Latency and other memory
timings to be set by the SPD. The hard drive was
formatted with the NTFS file system and Windows XP
Professional w/ SP1 was installed. We then installed the
latest chipset and video drivers and hit the Windows
Update site. We downloaded all of the available
critical updates, with the exception of the ones related
to Windows Messenger. Then we installed all of the
necessary drivers for the rest of our components,
disabling and removing Windows Messenger.
Auto-Updating and System Restore was also disabled, and
we set up a 768MB permanent page file. Lastly, we
set Windows XPs Visual Effects to "best performance",
installed all of the benchmarking software, defragged
the hard drive and ran all of the tests at the CPU's
default clock speed. For the sake of comparison,
we compared the scores to an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe
motherboard based on the nForce2 chipset and a DFI LAN
Party based on VIA's KT400A.
SiSoft Sandra MAX3!
One of the best
ways to get a quick idea of a system's performance potential
is by running the latest version of SiSoft's Sandra, in this
case Sandra MAX3. This benchmark offers a wide
array of tests to compare a systems various functions to
those collected in their large internal database. With
our motherboard articles, we like to focus our tests on CPU,
Multimedia, Memory and File System benchmarks.
Multimedia @ 1.84MHz.
this benchmark has a little trouble comparing CPUs of the
same type with different bus speeds. Notice how our
processor was recognized as an AMD AthlonXP 2500+, yet the
comparison scores lined it up with an Athlon XP 2200+ which
runs at the same core clock speed. It seems Sandra has
problems dealing with the way AMD juggles clock speeds,
cache sizes and model numbers, leaving the CPU comparison
scores a little ambiguous. There are also known issues
with Intel Pentium 4s with Hyperthreading enabled which
should all be addressed in the next major revision.
The memory test, on the other hand, was a bit more accurate,
posting scores on par with systems in its class.
Overclocking & Gaming Benchmarks