Articles: Mainboards

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The options of the Advanced section should be familiar to you and their names are self-descriptive. They are related to the chipset and additional controllers. You can also enable Intel Rapid Start and Intel Smart Connect here.

The CPU Configuration subsection reports you basic information about the CPU and allows to control some CPU-related technologies like virtualization.

Still we don’t see any of Intel’s CPU power-saving features because they are placed on a separate page called CPU Power Management Configuration. 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. In the example below we only need to set Package C-States Support.

The Monitor section is where you can check out the current temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. Fan management has been enhanced in the new BIOS. The Q-Fan Tuning option lets you calibrate your fans, for example. You can select a speed regulation mode for any of the fans supported by the mainboard: Standard, Silent, Turbo or max speed. Or you can set them up manually, too. In the latter case, you can use the Allow Fan Stop option to allow the mainboard to halt a fan altogether. Many modern mainboard have lost the ability to regulate 3-pin CPU cooler fans, but ASUS's recent models can do that. All of the fan connectors, both system and CPU ones, can reduce the speed of 3-pin fans. Besides CPU and mainboard temperatures, the mainboard reports chipset temperature as well as the reading from an auxiliary sensor. System fans (all six of them) can be regulated basing on any of these temperatures.

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.

Next goes the Tools section with a couple of most important subsections plus a nearly useless one. You can see the new Setup Animator option here. It lets you disable the animations to make the BIOS interface faster.

The integrated BIOS update tool called EZ Flash 2 is perhaps the handiest and most functional among the utilities of its kind. The support for NTFS partitions 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. It is not handy that we find it in the Tools section because memory timings are adjusted in a different part of the BIOS interface.

The last section, Exit, is where you can load BIOS defaults, apply or discard your changes. You can do all this via the hotkeys, though. The F7 key in the bottom right corner of the page lets you get back to EZ Mode whereas the Last Modified option, which lacks an assigned hotkey, 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.

Similar to the Last Modified feature, a popup window shows the list of changes every time you are about to apply them. It provides an easy way to control your changes to BIOS options. 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 window that opens up.

Summing up our BIOS overview, we should acknowledge that ASUS's UEFI BIOS has been revised dramatically. It has a lot of new features and options. Its EZ Mode is not useless anymore. It has more user-defined parameters. There are special wizards that can help you overclock your computer or build a RAID. You still have to switch to Advanced Mode for fine-tuning but EZ Mode is good enough for initial setting-up. The extended fan management capabilities must be noted, too. You can set up your fans flexibly right in the BIOS without any additional tools and utilities.

We won't criticize the new fonts or color scheme because it's a matter of taste. What we don't like is the new page layout. In the right part there is monitoring information about clock rates, temperatures and voltages while reference information is displayed at the bottom of the page. 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 with the F7 link (to return to EZ Mode) at the bottom. Of course, our view has also become broader horizontally but that was hardly a problem with the previous BIOS interface. Even small BIOS sections don’t fit into a single screen. The small viewport also makes it too easy to scroll past the option you need.

Although the UEFI BIOS from ASUS has a new interface, it doesn’t bring about significant changes. There are new setup options but the overall menu structure has remained the same. My Favorites or any other section cannot be used as the start screen, so there’s no point in selecting favorite options. Important power-saving technologies are still hidden deep in the BIOS structure. The ASUS SPD Information subsection is useless because it is separate from where you change memory frequencies and timings. Your turning-off of the startup picture is still not saved in BIOS profiles.

ASUS's BIOS is very good overall, but it is just annoying that the manufacturer hasn’t done anything for years to get rid of the mentioned flaws.

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