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BIOS Functionality

We have first discussed ASRock’s new UEFI BIOS in our LGA 2011 mainboard reviews, where we pointed out that their interface seemed very convenient to work with, and the functionality was more than sufficient. After that we discussed their BIOS functionality in our numerous LGA 1155 mainboard reviews. However, the BIOS of ASRock Z77 OC Formula looks completely different, even though it still does have a lot in common with the other versions. For starters, it is not the traditional “Main” section that we see upon entering the BIOS, but “OC Tweaker”, which contains the majority of options for system overclocking and fine-tuning. The interface has also been modified, and now all parameters are displayed against a “starlit sky” background, with twinkling stars.

Structurally gigantic page is split into several parts with horizontal lines. The top part is given to profiles and operational modes, then we see a group of parameters related mostly to the processor functionality, then we see options for the memory sub-system configuring, and the last part contains a long list of parameters adjusting the voltages. 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. The current voltages are also displayed right here, next to the corresponding parameters, which is very convenient. The digital voltage regulator circuitry allows selecting Vdroop values for the processor and integrated graphics core.

“Nick Shih’s OC Profile” parameter allows you to overclock your processor automatically, using settings profiles suggested by the overclocking master – Nick Shih.

“User OC Profile” sub-section allows saving up to ten BIOS settings profiles instead of three offered by mainstream mainboards. Each profile can have a descriptive name reminding you of the settings in it.

“OC Tweaking” parameter will help you to improve the performance in old but still popular Futuremark benchmarks, especially in 3DMark01. As far as I remember, we saw an undocumented “Legacy BenchMark Enhancement” parameter in Gigabyte mainboards, which most likely has the same effect on the system. It is recommended to enable “LN2 Mode” option if you are using liquid nitrogen cooling. Numerous memory timings may be adjusted in a separate page.

“OC Tweaker” section is displayed when you first access the BIOS, which is quite logical for an overclocker board. However, the “Main” section, reporting the basic system information, allows you to select any BIOS section as your welcome screen.

We are already very well familiar with the functionality of the sub-sections in the “Advanced” section: their names speak for themselves.

The “CPU Configuration” sub-section contains basic information about the processor and offers to configure some processor technologies.

The new “Tool” section contains many features of ASRock mainboards that we are already familiar with as well as a few absolutely new ones. “Dehumidifier Function” 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 the system on 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.

We have already mentioned that every time you enter the BIOS, you hear unique sound effects from the speakers connected to the mainboard. We have come across a similar feature on Intel mainboards, but in ASRock’s case there is no looping of the music, and the sound quality is much better. Moreover, the sound effects accompany navigation across the BIOS sections, a different sound indicates switching between BIOS parameters, and upon selection of a specific value you hear “Select target” voice command. If you feel uneasy when the mainboard talks to you like that, or are tired of repeating sounds, then you can use “Sound Effect” option to turn them off.

“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 already 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.

When we talked about the mainboard functionality, we mentioned “Multi Thermal Sensor” technology – a large number of additional thermal sensors that allow monitoring the temperatures in a variety of PCB spots. The namesake parameter will help identify the location of specific sensors. By rolling the mouse pointer over the sensor name, you can display the corresponding current temperature reading at the bottom.

 “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 a certain fixed value. The rotation speed of the remaining three system fans and a mainboard cooling system fan 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.

By the way, the QR-code in the right corner of the BIOS screen provides a link to downloading the mainboard manual.

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