AMD Phenom 9550 2.2gHz
OCZ Platinum DDR2-800 4GB Kit
Sapphire Radeon HD 4650
Apevia Warlock 750 watt PSU
Thermaltake M9 Midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
Installation of the AOD790GX/128M was very straightforward. Prep the case by installing the motherboard offsets and the I/O shield that came with the motherboard. Install the power supply and optical drive.
Install the hard drive, then install the motherboard.
For some reason I didn't install the CPU on the motherboard before placing the motherboard in the case, something I always do. I guess I was preoccupied. Anyway, install the CPU in the motherboard socket, prep the CPU and CPU cooler by cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth. Apply thermal compound by the manufacturer's instructions. I used Arctic Silver 5. Install the CPU cooler.
Next, wire up the motherboard by installing the 24-pin connector, and ATX 12v connector. The ATX 12v connector is 8-pin, but will accommodate either 4-pin or 8-pin cables. Connect the case header connectors after referring to the User's Manual for proper placement. Connect the SATA cables. Connect power cables to the drives and case fans.
Since the AOD790GX/128M has onboard graphics, installation of a video card isn't necessary. I went ahead and installed a video card at this time, and removed it later to check out the performance of the onboard graphics.
The ASRock AOD790GX/128M uses the American Megatrends BIOS. This is a tabbed BIOS that provides for very easy navigation. There are no BIOS instructions in the paper User's Manual, they are on the PDF User's Manual on the driver disk.
Something a little different about this motherboard, and by looking at some user reviews, I find that this particular board isn't the only one, it POSTs so fast that occasionally you see nothing on the screen prior to the Vista loading screen. I missed getting into the BIOS a couple of times until I realized that I needed to just start pressing the F2 key as the computer starts, like back in the Socket A days.
The Main menu gives system information, the only setting here is Date/Time.
The Smart menu provides automatic BIOS default settings, providing some default performance settings and a power saving setting. I never figured out the difference between them, it wasn't explained in the User's Manual.
The Advanced menu has a series of submenus that contain most relevant motherboard settings.
The CPU submenu is where nearly all overclocking will take place, and where other relevant CPU settings are made, such as "Cool' n' Quiet", and Boot Failure Guard. Boot Failure Guard is ASRock's crash-free BIOS utility. Cool' n' Quiet formerly was AMD's fan speed utility, but now is like Intel's SpeedStep, it puts the CPU in a lowered performance state during idle and low-load periods. I would not enable this while overclocking or benchmarking.
The AOD790GX/128 has the most basic of overclocking settings. There is no display to see current CPU or memory speeds. Memory voltage is changed in the "Chipset Configuration" submenu.
The Chipset Configuration submenu contains various chipset settings. It doesn't matter where the Primary Graphics Adapter setting is placed, if you have no video card installed, the onboard graphics work fine. If you do have a video card installed and you want to connect monitors to the onboard graphics ports, "Surround View" must be enabled. Also, if you want HD audio via HDMI cable for enhanced sound when using an HD TV without a video card installed, "Onboard HDMI HD Audio" must be enabled.
Besides monitoring voltages and temps, Quiet Fan, AMD's CPU fan speed utility, is enabled in the H/W Monitor.
The Boot menu contains relevant boot settings in the Boot Configuration submenu, including the setting to disable the BIOS splash screen, something I always find annoying. The Boot Device listing is in the Boot menu.
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