Articles: Mainboards

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“Monitor” section on Asus mainboards tells us the current temperatures, voltages and fan rotation speeds. You can select one of the preset modes for the processor and three case fans from a pretty standard list including “Standard”, “Silent” and “Turbo” modes. You can also select the parameters manually. All system fan connectors allow lowering the fan rotation speed even if you are using three-pin fans. Unfortunately, the processor fan can only be adjustable if it has a four-pin connector.

Gigabyte mainboards also have a section similar to Asus’ “Monitor”. It is called “PC Health Status” and it comes as a subsection within the “M.I.T.” section. It reports current voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. You can select one of the two preset modes – Normal or Silent – or adjust fan settings manually to your liking. The distinguishing feature of Gigabyte mainboards is their ability to adjust the rotation speed of three-pin processor fans. Besides, Gigabyte, only ASRock mainboards allow doing the same. Unfortunately, this advantage wasn’t in the arsenal of the Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H mainboard reviewed today, because the BIOS of this mainboard doesn’t have the  “CPU Fan Control Mode” parameter, which allows selecting the adjustment mode for the CPU fan. And later on our tests showed that only the first system fan connector is capable of adjusting the rotation speed of a three-pin fan.

The “Boot” section on Asus mainboards allows you to adjust your boot-up parameters that will be applied on system start-up. By the way, this is where you have to replace the default “EZ Mode” with “Advanced Mode”. The “Fast Boot” parameter enabled by default allows mainboards to pass the startup procedure in a simplified manner, which speeds up the transition to OS loading phase.

The “BIOS Features” section with similar functionality, which is available on Gigabyte mainboards, is where you define your boot devices order, disable the startup picture, control other parameters and technologies, e.g. virtualization, and specify access passwords. There is no option that could be considered an analogue to Asus’ “Fast Boot”, but this is most likely temporary, because a similar parameter is already tested in the current beta-versions of Gigabyte BIOS, so we should see it in the production boards very soon.

The built-in “Asus EZ Flash 2” utility for BIOS reflashing is one of the most convenient and functional programs of the kind. One of the advantages is its ability to read from NTFS partitions, which means that you do not need to have a USB flash drive with a file on it, but can read the BIOS file right from the system HDD. At this time only Asus and Intel mainboards boast this feature. Unfortunately, they have eliminated the option that allowed saving the current BIOS version before reflashing a new one.

On Gigabyte mainboards the built-in Q-Flash utility for BIOS updating can be launched by pressing the namesake button or the F8 hot key. It has become more convenient to work with and now shows you both the current BIOS version and the new one you are trying to update to. But it is still unable to work with NTFS disks and the current BIOS version is saved only in the root folder of a disk rather than where you choose to.

Asus mainboards allow saving and then quickly loading eight full BIOS settings profiles. Each profile may be given a brief descriptive name reminding you of its contents. They still haven’t fixed the issue that doesn’t allow you to save disabling of the startup image in the settings profile, but they brought back the ability to exchange BIOS settings profiles with other users, which was lost upon transition to the EFI BIOS. From now on the profiles may be saved onto external media and loaded from them.

Gigabyte mainboards also allow saving or loading up to eight BIOS profiles, assigning each of them a descriptive name. You can again save profiles to external media and load profiles from them. Also, the profiles are saved automatically after each successful system startup, which is Gigabyte’s unique distinguishing feature. Even the information about the number of successful start-ups is saved, too. This way you can always roll back to the previous operational profile, even though you not have necessarily saved it before.

Just like mainboards from many other makers, for example Micro-Star who was the first to implement this feature, Asus mainboard BIOS can read the information from the memory modules SPD, including the XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles). Gigabyte mainboards do not have this feature, but this is more of a formal advantage, because all memory timings related information is provided to us in one section of the BIOS, while all the changes are made in a completely different section. Therefore, it might be challenging to really take advantage of this feature.

As usual, pressing F9 in any BIOS section of a Gigabyte mainboard will bring up a window with system information.

If we step away from the particular mainboards that are the main subject of our today’s review and focus on the Asus EFI BIOS and Gigabyte 3D BIOS in general, we will be able to conclude that both of them have everything necessary for successful system overclocking and fine-tuning, but Asus BIOS is slightly feature-richer and more functional. For example, you can use “Asus MultiCore Enhancement” parameter to boost the performance or use “OC Tuner” function to overclock your system right from the BIOS. You can improve the energy-efficiency by enabling “EPU Power Saving Mode”. Moreover, you can select the intensity of the power-savings or leave it up to the mainboard to decide on that. Of course, Gigabyte’s BIOS also has a few indisputable advantages. Slightly simplified but visually illustrative “3D Mode”, which comes by default with Gigabyte mainboards is much more useful and functional than the primitive “EZ Mode” screen on Asus boards. It is much more convenient to switch from “3D Mode” to “Advanced Mode” and doesn’t require the user to perform any additional actions. Automatic profile saving after successful system boot-up is a unique gem, none of the other mainboard makers can boast anything like that yet. It is also quite useful to be able to adjust the rotation speed of three-pin processor fans.

We have listed only the major advantages of Asus EFI BIOS and Gigabyte 3D BIOS, but there are even more differences and relatively useful functions worth your attention. However, this is merely a general conclusion about the two implementations of a UEFI BIOS concept, but in our specific case with the products in question we can state that the BIOS functionality of Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H cannot even come close to the functionality offered by the BIOS of Asus P8Z77-M mainboard. Gigabyte has completely stripped their mainboard of the ability to configure voltages, except for the memory voltage. It even cannot adjust the rotation speed of three-pin CPU fans, which is a default feature in all other Gigabyte mainboards.

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