Articles: Mainboards

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BIOS Functionality

Almost in all of our previous reviews of Asus and Gigabyte mainboards we discussed in detail their BIOS functionality – Asus EFI BIOS and Gigabyte 3D BIOS. We pointed out that in general both BIOs versions have a complete set of parameters necessary for system overclocking and fine-tuning, but their implementations differ and each has its own pros and cons. Therefore, it is particularly interesting to compare both approaches to BIOS design side by side. However, if you are looking for a more traditional BIOS review, then we recommend checking out any of the individual mainboard reviews of the corresponding Asus and Gigabyte products.

By default, there is “EZ Mode” enabled in the Asus mainboard BIOS. It performs mostly informational functions, because there are barely any configurable parameters there. You can check the basic system settings, some monitoring data, select an energy-efficient or performance mode and set the order of boot-up devices by simply dragging and dropping them with the mouse pointer.

“3D Mode”, which is the default mode in Gigabyte’s mainboards, is more useful and functional. You can use the row of icons at the bottom of the screen to load the optimal settings, set up the date and time, after which you can proceed to using the system. If the system configuration is unique in any way or any of the parameters need to be adjusted, you may continue configuring. In this mode we see a schematic layout of the mainboard, which key knots are highlighted one by one inviting the user to click on them. It works as a visual hint for the inexperienced users prompting them how they could proceed to adjusting the settings for their processor, memory, voltage regulator, etc. In some cases it is more convenient to work in the visual “3D Mode”, however, the “Advanced Mode” offers more parameters.

You can quickly switch from “EZ Mode” to “Advanced Mode” by pressing F7, or use the F3 hot key to jump over to one of the most frequently used BIOS sections, which also works if pressed while in any other BIOS section. Yet it could be much more convenient if you made “Advanced Mode” a default setting. In this case the first section you see will be the familiar “Main” section, where you can receive some basic system information, change the interface language and set up date and time. In the “Security” sub-section you can set the user and administrator passwords.

Gigabyte mainboards have a more convenient implementation of the switching between “3D Mode” and “Advanced Mode”. Most importantly, there is no need to change anything or remember about anything specific. If you made configuration changes and saved them in “3D Mode”, this will be the mode that you will see next time you access the BIOS.  If the last save was performed in “Advanced Mode” then this mode will be your default for the next BIOS access session. Moreover, when you switch to the “Advanced” mode, you get into the “M.I.T.” (MB Intelligent Tweaker) section, which contains all parameters related to overclocking and performance optimizations, which is very convenient. Only Asus ROG series (Republic of Gamers) mainboards have a similar feature. On these mainboards when you access the BIOS you immediately get into “Extreme Tweaker” section, which contains the majority of parameters for system fine-tuning and overclocking, while regular TUF (The Ultimate Force) mainboards for some reason do not boast the same convenient functionality.

The analogue of the “Main” section in Gigabyte mainboards is called “System”. Here we can learn the system info, and the “ATA Port Information” page allows us to check out the list of connected drives, change date and time and BIOS interface language.

On Asus mainboards most of the overclocking-related options are traditionally gathered in a very large “Ai Tweaker” section. The main section window allows you to change the frequencies, multipliers and voltages. Note that you do not see a complete list of parameters available to you, because most of them are set automatically by the mainboard. But as soon as you switch to manual configuration mode, you see a lot of previously hidden options right away. As usual, some parameters are singled out into individual sub-sections in order to unload the main section a little bit. “OC Tuner” parameter only looks like a sub-section, but in reality it helps to automatically overclock the system.

The “M.I.T.” (MB Intelligent Tweaker) section that contains all parameters related to overclocking and system fine-tuning on Gigabyte mainboards is split into multiple pages, unlike the lonely “Ai Tweaker” from Asus. Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks, the verdict will be purely subjective and rests solely on personal preferences. It is very convenient to navigate from parameter to parameter in Asus “Ai Tweaker” changing the values and checking out sub-sections from time to time. Gigabyte mainboards require a little more effort, as you need to navigate between different sub-sections all the time. At the same time, the contents of most sub-sections fits onto a single screen, so that there is no need to scroll and all parameters are in front of you all the time.

The “M.I.T.” (MB Intelligent Tweaker) main screen only lists all sub-sections and reports the basic system data.

Then we see a purely informational “M.I.T. Current Status” sub-section telling you the current operational parameters of the system. Asus mainboards do not have a similar feature. It is hard to view this as a drawback, because there is no real need for a sub-section like that and you rarely check it out anyway. Maybe only if you have to take a screenshot for another review, or something like that.

The “Advanced Frequency Settings” sub-section allows you to adjust frequencies and multipliers and there are special informational parameters that will keep you posted about the changes you are making.

The settings dealing with processor technologies, detailed adjustment of the CPU clock frequency multiplier and power-saving modes are singled out onto a separate page called “Advanced CPU Core Features”.

Asus mainboards do not have a special page like that, but they do have all the features and functions, of course. The fine-tuning of the processor clock frequency multiplier is performed in the “Ai Tweaker” section, once you switch to the manual mode. The “CPU Power Management” sub-section allows configuring the parameters affecting “Intel Turbo Boost” technology. However, you do not have to do that, just like on Gigabyte mainboards, because the board will automatically adjust everything to match your selected overclocking goals.

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