BIOS and Overclocking
We were testing the ECS KN1 Extreme mainboard using BIOS 1.0c, the only available version at the time we were working on this review.
The ECS KN1 Extreme抯 BIOS uses the Award-Phoenix microcode and has a typical interface with typical options, but despite that, the ECS engineers puzzled us at first. We are not talking about the mainboard抯 inability to disable the additional SiS180 RAID controller, although its initialization makes the start-up time somewhat longer. We can put up with that. But you can have much more serious problems during the usual mainboard configuration in the most obvious way.
Well, these were exactly the problems we encountered during the initial acquaintance with the mainboard. It wasn抰 difficult to identify them: there is a Load Performance option on the very first page of the BIOS Setup. The name was enticing, but this option turned out to cause problems rather than increase the performance. And the ECS KN1 Extreme was just about to get a pretty negative review from us until we cleared out this issue.
Formally, the mainboard does the following trick when you select the Load Performance option: the CPU frequency multiplier gets reduced by 0.5x below the default setting, while the frequency of the clock generator is increased to make the resulting CPU frequency normal. For example, the default multiplier for our Athlon 64 3800+ is 12x. In the Performance mode, the ECS KN1 Extreme sets up the processor抯 frequency as 11.5 x 209.5MHz.
In other words, the mainboard overclocks the memory and the HyperTransport bus a little and the overall performance does grow up relative to the default CPU mode. But well ?that抯 nothing but overclocking, and there can be various problems due to the non-regular operational mode of the memory and HyperTransport like non-working Cool抧扱uiet technology and the impossibility of overclocking the CPU from the BIOS. Of course these things perplexed us a lot, since the mainboard抯 manual didn抰 say anything on this point.
We eventually revealed the origin of the problem; as said above, it was the Load Performance option. So we had to turn this option off for our further investigation of the ECS KN1 Extreme features.