In our previous reviews of Asus products we have already talked about Asus EFI BIOS – an overall very successful implementation of the UEFI standard (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). However, new mainboards use its updated version. As in the earlier versions, by default, there is “EZ Mode” enabled in the BIOS. 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. Now you can also set the correct date and time here, or choose the fan mode. In the future we should get the ability to select X.M.P. profiles for the memory, if any are available. Besides the fan rotation speeds and CPU temperature, you can also see VCCIN voltage setting, which is always 1.8 V, so this info is of no particular practical value.
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. The new thing here is the ability to edit menu items list by removing the ones you do not use and adding the necessary ones.
You can switch from “EZ Mode” to “Advanced Mode” every time you enter the BIOS, or press F3 key 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.
Everything is exactly the same as before, but I would like to point out that “Main” section is no longer at the top of the list. There is a “My Favorites” section above it. The name indicates that it is intended to round up in a single section all settings that you use most frequently. This section is empty by default and contains only some informational parameters, as well as hints on adding and removing options by using your mouse or keyboard.
I have to say that there are some limitations associated with the selection of the parameters. Some of them are insignificant: for example, you cannot add user-specific settings, such as language selection or the order of boot-up devices. You cannot use such options as information from the memory modules SPD, system date or time. Of course, this isn’t a serious issue, but it is a pity that the restrictions apply not only to entire sections or sub-sections, but also to individual parameters, which have their own sub-menus. As a result, you cannot add “O.C.Profile” sub-section for quick selection of BIOS settings profiles or “CPU Power Management Configuration” parameter that leads to a page listing all processor power-saving modes. These restrictions do not apply to the list of parameters that can be displayed by pressing F3 key, so you can only achieve maximum flexibility by using “My Favorites” section and a menu with the most frequently used links, which is no longer as convenient as it could have been without the strange restrictions.
However, despite certain restrictions “My Favorites” section can be customized to your liking. For example, to expedite the selection of optimal parameters during processor overclocking, we brought up a couple of informational parameters that report the processor temperature and the cooling fan rotation speed. Then we added a few options dealing with processor clock frequency multipliers and a parameter for raising CPU Vcore. Now everything we need is not scattered over a number of sections and sub-sections, but are all in one page. Moreover, this list will not get lost once you update your BIOS.
Most of the overclocking-related options are traditionally gathered in the “Ai Tweaker” section. It has never been small, and now it has grown even bigger, because of a larger number of informational parameters in the very beginning, parameters for adjusting the cache frequency multipliers in the middle and parameters for voltage adjustment closer to the end of the list. Moreover, you do not see a complete list of settings right from the start, because the board configures them automatically. But as soon as you switch to manual settings, you immediately get an entire variety of previously hidden options.
For example, should you change the “Ai Overclock Tuner” parameter to “X.M.P.” in order to automatically change the memory subsystem settings, or to “Manual”, you will immediately see options for changing the base clock and adjusting the processor clock frequency multipliers. The voltages may be set above or below the nominal, and you even have three options to choose from when it comes to changing the processor core voltage. It can be set at a specific value, can be adjusted in “Offset” mode by adding or subtracting a certain value from the nominal, or use an adaptive option. We are going to dwell on the peculiarities of all three settings in the chapter of our review discussing the operational and overclocking specifics of this platform.
As usual, some parameters are singled out into individual sub-sections in order to unload the main section a little bit. The memory timings can be configured on an individual page. They are indeed very numerous, but still very easy to work with. You can see all timings that the mainboard sets for each of the two memory channels. And you can adjust only a few selected timings, such as the main ones, for example, leaving all other settings at defaults.
Asus Z87-K is an entry-level model that is why there are few options introduced due to digital DIGI+ voltage regulator circuitry.
However, the number of parameters in the “CPU Power Management” sub-section has increased dramatically. It is still not required to manually configure the parameters affecting “Intel Turbo Boost” technology, because the board will automatically adjust everything to match your selected overclocking goals. However, you can manually configure numerous options related to the processor voltage regulator integrated into the CPU in order to reduce response time or lower idle power consumption.
The functionality of the parameters in the sub-sections of the “Advanced” section is pretty self-explanatory.
The “CPU Configuration” sub-section reports the basic info about the processor and allows managing some processor technologies.