Articles: Mainboards

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Power-saving technologies can be managed on the CPU Power Management Configuration page. There are only three options here by default because CPU C States is set at Auto and the rest of the options are hidden. We changed CPU C States to Enabled to show you how many there are. They can affect the computer’s idle power draw, so you may want to specify them manually instead of letting the mainboard do that.

The Monitor section is where you can check out the current temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. The ASUS Z87-K could not report the CPU voltage. It only showed the basic input voltage VCCIN, which is always 1.8 volts. But now we can see what voltage is supplied to each of the four CPU cores. You can select a speed regulation mode for any of the fans supported by the mainboard: Standard, Silent or Turbo. Or you can set them up manually, too. The two CPU fans can only be regulated if they have 4-pin connectors.

System startup options can be found in the Boot section. It’s here that you can change the start mode from EZ to Advanced. While setting the mainboard up for the first time, you may want to disable the Fast Boot parameter to make it easier to enter the BIOS interface. Take note of the new SATA Support option – it helps the mainboard boot up even faster by not polling unused SATA ports.

Next goes the Tools section. The integrated BIOS update tool called EZ Flash 2 is perhaps the handiest and most functional among the utilities of its kind. It supports NTFS partitions, so you can read firmware right from the HDD. The NTFS support is only implemented in the BIOS update tools from ASUS and Intel as yet. Unfortunately, the option of saving the current BIOS prior to updating it has been removed altogether.

ASUS mainboards allow you to store and load up to eight profiles with full BIOS settings. Each profile can be given a descriptive name. BIOS profiles can be shared by saving and loading them from external disks. The profiles do not save the option of turning the startup picture off.

Like on mainboards from many other brands, we can now see the information written into the memory modules' SPD unit, including XMP profiles.

The Exit section goes last. It allows you to save your changes, load default BIOS settings, or switch back to EZ Mode.

In the center right of the screen, above the list of active hotkeys, there are two buttons: Quick Note and Last Modified. The former lets you write down some notes for yourself and the latter shows a list of your last changes which is retained even after you reboot your computer. So you can always check out which BIOS changes you made the last time. You don’t even have to enter the BIOS interface for that as the Save to USB option lets you save that list on an external drive.

Similar to the Last Modified feature, the popup BIOS Setting Change window is also very handy, showing the list of changes to be applied. We really miss this opportunity now on other mainboards because it provides an easy way to control your changes before applying them. This window also makes it easy to compare the current settings with what is written in the BIOS profiles. By loading a profile you will see all of its differences from the current settings in the BIOS Setting Change window that opens up.

Summing it up, ASUS’s EFI BIOS only called for a correction of certain errors and the new version is indeed better than before. Some changes are not significant like the enhanced functionality of the previously useless EZ Mode. Others are more important, like the new My Favorites section, the opportunity to write down notes and edit the list of frequently accessed BIOS options you can open up by pressing F3. The Last Modified feature will come in handy, too. The popup window BIOS Setting Change is also useful, showing a list of BIOS changes to be applied.

Some errors have persisted through years, though. For example, ASUS mainboards do not save your turning off the startup picture in BIOS profiles. This is just a small nuisance, yet it has not been corrected for ages. Gigabyte has successfully implemented the regulation of 3-pin CPU fans and ASRock has also come up with a solution to this problem, but ASUS doesn’t offer this capability with its mainboards. The opportunity for choosing what pages to show when you enter the BIOS interface was introduced many years ago in the BIOS of Biostar mainboards and is currently available on mainboards from many brands, but not from ASUS. The My Favorites section may be easily overlooked if you move sequentially from the barely useful EZ Mode to the Main section and further, but the order of sections cannot be changed. Some of the major mainboard makers allow the user to compile his favorite BIOS options into a special page but ASUS’s My Favorite page has limitations about what options you can add to it. The important power-related options of the CPU Power Management Configuration page are hidden in the depths of the Advanced section, although they would be more appropriate in the Ai Tweaker section. Many years ago, when these options were included into the CPU Configuration subsection, the latter was duplicated in the Extreme Tweaker section in the BIOS of ASUS’s ROG series mainboards. This duplication was lost with the transition to UEFI BIOS and was never implemented in ordinary ASUS mainboards. And finally, EPU Power Saving Mode which is responsible for ASUS’s exclusive power-saving technologies has lost its setup flexibility. You could select the required level of power savings but now you can only turn it on or off (and additionally choose a system-wide operation profile in EZ Mode).

Despite our criticism, ASUS’s EFI BIOS is good overall. Feature-rich and user-friendly, it has been improved even more recently. Besides the new font and color scheme, it now offers new options. You can use SATA Support to accelerate your boot time by not polling unused SATA ports or save your BIOS changes (from the Last Modified list) to an external drive.

Some downsides we had noticed earlier have been corrected. For example, you couldn’t learn the CPU voltage in ASUS’s BIOS, but now you can check out the voltage on any of the CPU cores. So, considering that the new BIOS modification is indeed new, we hope that it will be improved and enhanced in the future.

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