We first examined the new capabilities of ASUS’s EFI BIOS in our ASUS Z87-K review but there have been some changes since then. The predominantly green background has been replaced with blue. The font is now taller and slimmer. As before, the BIOS interface opens in EZ Mode by default. It provides basic system information and allows to choose a power-saving or high-performance operation mode. You can also specify the order of boot devices by simply moving them with your mouse. After setting up the fans and the system date and time, you can apply XMP profiles to memory modules and check out information about the connected storage devices. Besides the speed of the fans and the temperature of the CPU, the mainboard reports the voltage supplied to the CPU (instead of the basic input voltage VCCIN as in the earlier BIOS version). The F7 key is used to switch from EZ Mode to Advanced Mode whereas the F3 key lets you quickly go to any of the most frequently used BIOS sections.
You can switch from EZ to Advanced Mode or press F3 every time you enter the BIOS (by the way, this hot button works in the other BIOS sections as well), yet it may be easier to make the BIOS open in Advanced Mode by default. In this case, you will see the familiar Main section where you can read some basic system information, change the interface language and set up date and time. User and admin passwords can be specified in its Security subsection.
The Main section is not the first on the list as it is now behind the new My Favorites section. As its name suggests, it helps collect all frequently used BIOS options in one place. The section is empty by default, only containing information about how to add or remove options with your mouse or keyboard. There are some limitations. For example, you cannot add used-defined settings such as interface language or boot device order. You cannot add options like SPD data and system date and time. You can’t even add individual options which contain submenus such as the OC Profile subsection for loading BIOS profiles or the CPU Power Management Configuration option which leads to a page with CPU power-saving modes. The list of options displayed upon your pressing the F3 key has no such limitations and you can edit it in the same way by removing and adding entries. So, you have to use both the My Favorites section and the quick access menu, which is not very convenient. Moreover, like other sections, My Favorites cannot be set as the start BIOS screen.
Most of the overclocking-related options are collected in the Ai Tweaker section. It has become even larger than before, including more info parameters at the beginning, more cache frequency multipliers in the middle, and more voltage-related options at the end of the section. Moreover, you don’t even see all of the options because they are set up by the mainboard automatically. But as soon as you get down to manual setting-up, you will find a lot of previously hidden parameters.
For example, if you change the Ai Overclock Tuner option into XMP (to automatically apply your memory subsystem parameters) or to Manual, there will appear options to change the base clock rate and control the frequency multipliers of the CPU. The voltages can be set higher or lower than the default level. The CPU voltage can now be changed in three different ways: by fixing it at a certain level, by adding or subtracting a certain value (offset mode) and in adaptive mode. We discussed the differences between these three ways in our ASUS Z87-K review.
Some of the setup options are available in individual subsections in order not to clutter the main section. There is a separate page for memory timings. There are a lot of options here, yet they are quite easy to use. You can see all the timings set up by the mainboard for each of the two memory channels. You can adjust just some of them, leaving the others at their defaults.
There are quite a lot of options related to power supply and the digital power system called DIGI+. You can control ASUS’s exclusive power-saving technologies right here, in the BIOS. One of them allows changing the number of active phases in the CPU voltage regulator depending on load. CPU Load Line Calibration can now be not only enabled or disabled but also set to a certain level (it helps counteract the voltage drop occurring on the CPU under load).
The CPU Power Management subsection now contains more options. You can manually set up a number of parameters of the CPU-integrated voltage regulator to increase the response time and lower the power consumption in idle mode.
The options of the Advanced section should be familiar to you and their names are self-descriptive.
The CPU Configuration subsection reports you basic information about the CPU and allows to control some CPU-related technologies.