Articles: Mainboards

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All parameters related to power-saving are singled out on a separate page called “CPU Power Management Configuration”. In fact, at first you only see the first three parameters on the screen, because “CPU C States” option is set to “Auto”, and all following options are hidden. We switched the “CPU C States” to “Enabled” on purpose: to show all the previously hidden options that are actually available for configuring. They have a very serious effect on the system power consumption in idle mode that is why it is better to set them up manually instead of letting the board take care of them automatically.

“Monitor” section tells us the current temperatures, voltages and fan rotation speeds. Unfortunately, instead of the current processor core voltage, we can only see the base VCCIN, which is always 1.8 V. previously, CPU Vcore was also displayed in the “Ai Tweaker” section, right next to the parameter used to change it, but it is no longer there. It turns out that the current BIOS version doesn’t let us see the CPU Vcore at all. I cannot even recall when the last time was and which one was the last board that featured this shortcoming. Processor Vcore is one of the most important system settings, and all mainboards usually reveal it one way or another.

You can select one of the preset modes for all fans from a pretty standard list including “Standard”, “Silent” and “Turbo” modes. You can also select the parameters manually. Both 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.

The “Boot” section 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”. Also, while you are configuring your settings, you can disable the “Fast Boot” parameter, which should help avoid issues with accessing the BIOS, because the board boots up so quickly that you may simply miss the proper key stroke.

Now let’s quickly refresh the functionality of the “Tools” section.

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 off the NTFS partitions, which means that you do not have to use a USB flash drive, but can have the mainboards read it off the HDD. So far only Asus and Intel mainboards can boast a feature like that. Unfortunately, they have eliminated the option that allowed saving the current BIOS version before reflashing a new one.

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 brought back the ability to exchange BIOS settings profiles with other users by saving them on external media. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet fixed the issue when disabling the startup image wouldn’t get saved in the settings profile.

Just like on mainboards from many other makers we can read the information in the memory modules SPD, including the XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles).

The last section is called “Exit”. Here you can apply the changes, restore the defaults or go back to the “EZ Mode”.

We saved a few additional advantages of the new UEFI BIOS for last. As you can see, there are two new buttons in the right part of the screen, right above the hot key hints. They are “Quick Note” and “Last Modified”. The former allows saving an important reminder or note, for example: do not forget the milk, or turn on power-saving technologies, or anything else for that matter.

“Last Modified” button lists all latest changes, which will be saved even if you reboot or turn the system off completely. It will serve as a reminder and allow you to check what changes were made last.

Moreover, the pop up “BIOS Setting Change” window with a list of changes will automatically get displayed every time you save the settings, which is very handy. By looking at the list you can easily check if all the settings are correct before applying the changes, verify that there are no mistakes or omissions.

Asus EFI BIOS has always been very functional, therefore there was no need to dramatic modifications. All they needed were just some corrections to fix the minor issues. They’ve done it and the new BIOS does look quite improved. Some of the changes for the better are minor, such as slight improvement of the functionality of the previously useless “EZ Mode”. Other changes are more important, inclusion a new “My Favorites” section, the ability to make notes and edit the list of the most frequently used BIOS sections, which can always be brought up on the screen by pressing F3. The “Last Modified” list will come in very handy as well as the pop-up “BIOS Setting Change” window containing the list of current changes that will be applied on exit.

At the same time, they still haven’t fixed the issue that prevents disabling of the startup image from getting saved in the profiles. Also, Asus boards are still unable to allow adjusting the rotation speed of the three-pin processor fans. The parameters on the “CPU Power Management Configuration” page that matter a lot for the system power-saving haven’t yet been included into the “Ai Tweaker” section, and are hidden so far away that sometimes we start thinking that it has been done on purpose. To find them you need to go into “Advanced” section, then navigate to “CPU Configuration” sub-section, and then go to “CPU Power Management Configuration” page. You will not be able to freely use the new “My Favorites” section because of restricted abilities for adding parameters into that section and no option that would allow you to make it a start-up section, which you see upon entering the BIOS. You no longer can see the actual processor Vcore, while “EPU Power Saving Mode parameter, which includes Asus’ proprietary power-saving technologies, lost its configuration flexibility. Previously, you could set the suitable power-saving mode, but now you can only enable or disable it altogether.

Despite individual shortcomings that were inherited from the past and a few new ones, Asus EFI BIOS is a definite success: it boasts rich functionality and is very convenient to work with. Moreover, keep in mind that we are looking at an entry-level mainboard therefore, some of the functions may be missing or limited. Besides, the new BIOS version has just recently been released, so moving forward the issues should get fixed, shortcomings eliminated and the functionality enriched further.

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