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BIOS Capabilities

You may find the new UEFI BIOS interface odd-looking if you’ve had some previous experience with ASUS mainboards. As before, the BIOS opens in EZ Mode by default but the latter looks differently and offers much more capabilities than in the earlier BIOS interface.  You can set up date and time, change the interface language, learn some basic information about your computer, and load default settings. Then, you can set up your system memory, drives, fans, general operation mode (EZ System Tuning), and boot device order. EZ Mode used to be kind of useless, but it is not such anymore. Of course, it is not meant for complete system set-up. You need to switch to Advanced Mode for that. EZ Mode suffices well enough for initial setting-up, though.

There’s more animation in the screen. The CPU temperature graph is being updated regularly while the icons of operating fans are rotating. You can easily choose the operation mode for your fans from three predefined ones: Standard, Silent and Turbo. You can also set the fans at their maximum speed or regulate them manually by simply moving the dots in the graph. This Q-Fan Tuning feature can be later evoked by pressing the F6 key.

Are you a beginner user confused about all those abbreviations and technical terms? Then launch EZ Tuning Wizard that will guide you through a multistep process of overclocking your computer.

Using the same wizard, you can combine multiple drives into a RAID array.

If you’re an experienced user who doesn’t want any tips and advice, just switch from EZ to Advanced Mode by pressing the F7 key. You can later make the BIOS open up in Advanced Mode by default. Here, you can see the Main section which is familiar to us in its name and setup options but has a completely different interface. This section helps appreciate the highs and lows of the new interface, by the way. You can compare it to the same BIOS page from any older ASUS mainboard, for example from the ASUS Z87-K model. We won't dwell on the new fonts and visual theme because that's a matter of personal taste. The main thing is the structure of the BIOS page.

Active hotkeys used to be listed in the bottom right corner. The list is now a line at the top of the page. The new menu lets you set up date and time, change the interface language and proceed to the frequently accessed features, namely the list of My Favorites options (F3), Q-Fan Control (F6), and EZ Tuning Wizard (F11). The Quick Note option (F9) can be used to write down some important notes for yourself while the older list of active hotkeys is now concealed behind an intuitive question-mark icon (as always, you can evoke it by pressing the F1 key).

In the previous BIOS interface, when a BIOS option was selected, related information about its purpose, range and adjustment step was displayed in the column on the right. Now this area is reserved for monitoring information about clock rates, temperatures and voltages while the reference information is displayed lower. So the biggest downside of the new interface is that our view is smaller vertically because there’s the new hotkey line at the top and the Last Modified option (which lacks a hotkey) with the F7 link (to return to EZ Mode) at the bottom. Of course, our view has become broader horizontally but that was hardly a problem with the previous BIOS interface.

The Main section still reports basic system information and allows you set up date and time. You can also change the language for the BIOS interface to use and enter user and admin passwords in the Security subsection. However, even this small section doesn't fit fully into a single screen. The Security subsection is not visible by default anymore. You need to use your mouse wheel or arrow keys to access it but the scrollbar has been redesigned into an inconspicuous element with no arrow icons. If you don’t know beforehand, you can hardly guess that you don’t see all of the section options by default. Some users will just miss the Security subsection altogether and will never know it is there. And we have the same problem with the bigger BIOS sections. The small viewport makes it too easy for you to miss one or an entire group of options while scrolling through a BIOS page. 

The Main section is not the first on the list, though. It is preceded by My Favorites which helps collect frequently used BIOS options in one place. Empty by default, it suggests that you press F3 and select what options you want to save from a list of BIOS sections. There used to be some limitations about what options you could save, but not anymore. Still, the My Favorites section (like any other section for that matter) cannot be set as the start screen, which looks like a limitation to us.

Most of the overclocking-related options are collected in the Ai Tweaker section. It contains an enormous number of adjustable parameters and you don’t even see all of them by default because they are set up by the mainboard automatically. You will find a lot of previously hidden options as soon as you get down to manual setting-up.

For example, additional parameters appear as soon as you set the Ai Overclock Tuner option at X.M.P. (to automatically set up your memory subsystem parameters) or Manual. 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 with lots of options. Using the scrollbar, you can see all the timings set up by the mainboard for the two memory channels. You can adjust just some of them, leaving the others at their defaults.

There’s a separate BIOS subsection related to the digital power system called DIGI+. You can control ASUS’s exclusive power-saving technologies there, one of which 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).

ASUS mainboards offer a lot of Internal CPU Power Management options with some exclusive technologies. You can 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 voltages of the Ai Tweaker section can be set higher or lower than the default level. The current values are conveniently shown right next to the adjustment options. 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. The Ai Tweaker section ends here but we still haven’t found a group of very important settings that control CPU power-saving technologies. Well, that’s a typical downside of many mainboards from many brands because all of them use AMI BIOS for their UEFI BIOS implementations. And AMI BIOS has a few questionable layout solutions.

 
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