We are very familiar with ASRock’s UEFI BIOS and have pointed out many times that their interface was very convenient to work with, and the functionality was more than sufficient for successful overclocking and system fine-tuning. However, in our ASRock Z77 OC Formula review we saw a completely different BIOS, where all parameters are displayed against a “starlit sky” background, with twinkling stars. This new BIOS does look differently, but still has a lot of familiar features. Back then we assumed that this “starlit” BIOS was specifically designed for that particular mainboard. Today, however, we see it on our ASRock Z77 Extreme3 mainboard, too.
The first section we see upon accessing the BIOS is called “Main”, which reports the basic information about our system. Moreover, there is now a very useful feature, which we have only seen on Biostar and then Intel mainboards before. Now we can select the BIOS section to be accessed upon entering the mainboard BIOS. It is a very useful option.
Most of the overclocking and fine-tuning options are gathered in “OC Tweaker” section. This gigantic page is separated into several sub-sections with horizontal lines. The top part offers you options for automatic overclocking of the CPU and the graphics core integrated into it, the next group of options relates to processor configuring, the one after – to memory sub-system configuring, and the last group rounds up all parameters dealing with voltage adjustment. The voltages may be set above and below the nominal value. They may be set at specific values, or adjusted by adding an offset to the default setting. Here you can also see all current voltage readings right next to the corresponding parameters, which is very convenient. The digital voltage regulator circuitry allows selecting the Vdroop value for the CPU and the graphics core integrated into it.
As usual, some parameters have been relocated into individual sections to unload the main page a little bit. In particular, all the settings for memory timings configuring have been singled out onto a separate page.
We are already very well familiar with the functionality of the sub-sections in the “Advanced” section: their names speak for themselves. They allow configuring peripheral devices and additional controllers. Here you can also enable and set up chipset’s unique technologies, like “Intel Rapid Start” and “Intel Smart Connect”.
The “CPU Configuration” sub-section contains basic information about the processor and offers to configure some processor technologies.
The “Tool” section contains many features of ASRock mainboards that we are already familiar with as well as a few absolutely new ones. “System Browser” sub-section is designed as a pretty precise schematic layout of the board itself. By rolling the mouse pointer over any of the mainboard components on this layout you can get information about it. ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard) function allows denying Internet access at preset times and days of the week in the BIOS. We are also quite familiar with a very convenient BIOS updating tool called “Instant Flash”. This utility will analyze the contents of the plugged in USB drive and provide you a list of compatible updates. All you need to do at this point is select the correct BIOS version. We also noticed a few changes in another even more convenient BIOS updating utility called “Internet Flash”: now we can select the server for downloading the BIOS at the most convenient geographical location.
Every time you enter the BIOS, you hear unique sound effects from the speakers connected to the mainboard. Moreover, the sound effects accompany navigation across the BIOS sections; a different sound indicates switching between BIOS parameters or selection of a certain parameter. If you are tired of continuous sounds, then you can use “Sound Effect” option to turn them off. “Dehumidifier Function” technology will prevent boot-up failures caused by excessive humidity inside the system case. The humidity can be easily lowered from 70% to 40% in a very simple way: by powering on the system from time to time. This function allows setting the frequency of system power-ups, the length of the on-time and the rotation speed of the CPU cooler fan. The last thing worth mentioning about the functionality of the “Tool” section is the board’s ability to save three user profiles and give each of them a detailed descriptive name.
“H/W Monitor” section allows monitoring temperatures, voltages and fan rotation speeds. The rotation speeds of the two processor fans and a four-pin system fan may be set in dependence on the temperature or locked at certain fixed values. The rotation speed of the remaining two system fans can only be lowered to the desired level. Only the “Power FAN” speed can be monitored but cannot be adjusted in any way.
The “Boot” section allows choosing the startup system parameters.
“Security” section will offer to create administrator and user passwords. “Secure Boot” parameter indicates that this mainboard is Microsoft Windows 8 ready.
The last section called “Exit” allows you to apply all changes, cancel them or reset all settings to defaults. At any time and in any section you can use F1 key to display the help topics and the list of available hot keys.
The new BIOS of ASRock Z77 Extreme3 mainboard is quite different from the BIOS of ASRock Z77 Extreme4. However, there are numerous common traits, and it looks like new “starlit’ BIOS versions for other mainboard models will also be coming out shortly.