MSI P965 Neo-F For Core 2 Duo - Very Standard BIOS - Lean on Tweaking

Article Index
MSI P965 Neo-F For Core 2 Duo
Board Layout - Up Close
Very Standard BIOS - Lean on Tweaking
Test Setup and Early Benchmarks
Application Benchmarks - Continued...
Game Performance and Benchmarking
Game Benchmarking - Continued...
Overclocking the P965 Neo-F
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

BIOS:

The BIOS is based on the popular Award BIOS which I much rather prefer over other BIOS formats.  The BIOS is pretty bare compared to a DFI motherboard, but there still are a few mentionable notes as you'll see below.  Click any of the thumbnails to get a larger image.

Main BIOS Menu
Main BIOS Menu

The BIOS is broken down into areas of interest below.  At the end, we'll touch on MSI's Cell Menu which is where the majority of this boards tweaking features are located.

Advanced BIOS Features
 Advanced BIOS Features

CPU Features
 CPU Features

Memory Timings
 Memory Timings

CPU Specific features are located in the Advanced BIOS Features section and you've the ability to adjust C1E Support, Execute Bit, Speedstep and Virtualization Technology.  RAM Timing adjustments are located in the Advanced Chipset Features section, and while this seems like a logical place, I think they should actually be located in Cell Menu as you'll see if a few moments.

The Integrated Peripherals section is really not that exciting, but to be thorough I included some pictures as well.  Take a look at them below to see if anything is different.

Integrated Peripherals
 Integrated Peripherals

ATA Devices
 ATA Devices

PnP/PCI Configurations
 PnP/PCI Configurations

The MSI P965 Neo-F motherboard comes with the JMicron controller for IDE and an extra SATA and this is why we've got real control over UDMA on our IDE connector.  Other early 965 based motherboards that don't include a additional controller for IDE have issues with DMA mode when running the SATA connectors in RAID or AHCI mode.  When ran in these modes, the IDE seems to be stuck in PIO only mode - and that sucks.  Ask Nicao.

Hardware Monitor
Hardware Monitor

MSI has included the popular Hardware monitoring features such as CPU Smart Fan, Temperature Control, Chassis Intrusion and of course PC Health.  In the PC Health section you can monitor CPU and chipset temperature as well as popular voltage rails.

We wrap up our look at the BIOS now with a look at the Cell Menu.  The Cell Menu is MSI's answer to the enthusiast's need to tweak, overclock and push things to the Max.  What I find interesting is that the Cell Menu changes greatly from the P965 Neo-F to the K9N Platinum.  The P965 Neo-F Cell Menu is quite bare compared to the nForce 570 SLI based K9N Platinum.  For instance, on the Neo-F you don't have any options for boosting CPU or chipset voltage.

Cell Menu
 Cell Menu

CPU Ratio
 CPU Ratio



CPU FSB
 CPU FSB

DDR2 Voltage
 DDR2 Voltage

As I mentioned above, you don't have the ability to adjust CPU or chipset voltage, but you do have a wide range of voltage adjustment for your DDR2 memory.  You can push things up to 2.4v which should more than suffice for virtually any DDR2 overclocking.  Also notice that you can adjust your CPU multiplier downward.  This feature should allow for higher FSB overclocks and allow you to push your system faster and farther than you could otherwise.  Unfortunately, FSB frequency can only be adjusted up to 333FSB, which is a little weak compared to some 975X motherboards where they are pulling over 400FSB when overclocking.

On the next page we'll take a look at our test setup and start the benchmarking!