This is for the first time that we decided to include a chapter like that into our mainboard review that is why I would like to explain what it will be devoted to from now on. Chapters like that will discuss the contextual quality of the manufacturer web-sites, quality and informational value of the supporting technical documentation, availability of BIOS and driver updates.
You may think that the web-site layout hardly has anything to with a mainboard review, and the level of detail in the mainboard user manual doesn’t affect its actual functionality. However, we have already touched upon these things in reference to quite a few mainboards and manufacturers. Buying a mainboard is evidently a very important step that will be one of the major factors defining the system performance. You need to be able to compare different models side by side, check out the solution’s technical specifications, read some product and user reviews in order to make the right purchasing decision. However, it may be pretty difficult to accomplish if the manufacturer web-site doesn’t offer any specifications for the chips or doesn’t list the differences between the models; if the BIOS updates are available on one web-site and the user’s manual – on another and besides are quite hard to find.
I won’t point any fingers here, our regular readers know who I am talking about. However, as a positive example I should definitely mention Gigabyte. Take a look at their company web-site, if you haven’t been there yet. Navigation is very simple and intuitive; you can easily find a page for your board of choice. Every page has a detailed description, technical specifications, direct links to BIOS updates and drivers, list of compatible processors and memory modules. You can download user manual in almost any language. You can use a convenient comparison tool for side by side analysis. Everything is made for the user, so that a curious visitor could turn into a happy and satisfied owner of a Gigabyte mainboard or any other product. It is so different from the web-sites of some other mainboard makers! However, we are not talking about just some mainboard manufacturers, but only about DFI here today.
It turned out that things have changed dramatically since last fall when I visited DFI official web-site last. I am not going to argue, which way is easier to read: dark lettering on light background, or the current light lettering on dark background. However, I would definitely prefer to see letters on some interface buttons instead of hieroglyphs.
Besides, I noticed a few other issues while surfing the site. At some point all the company news disappeared somewhere and sometimes is received warnings about some more serious errors.
However, my goal wasn’t to criticize some unknown web-design studio for not the best job they did. I was in fact going to praise DFI.
What is one of the main advantages of DFI mainboards? - The extremely extensive BIOS functionality that equips the user with tools for outstanding configuring capabilities. However, it was also the main drawback that scared away quite a few potential customers, who feared they will not be able to find their way around all these numerous settings, which names were not always self-explanatory. User manual also wasn’t always of help. One of the typical examples: the manual said that “Exit Setup Shut Down” parameter may be set to Mode 1 or Mode 2. That is hardly an explanation. Anyone can see the list of possible values for this parameter, and you don’t need a manual for that, but what is the difference between Mode 1 and Mode 2? It used to be a mystery, but not anymore.
If you click the hieroglyphs on the interface buttons one after another, you will eventually find the detailed description of the board, its technical specifications and all BIOS updates including the beta-versions. But most importantly, there is a big list of various instructions.
Now the documents not only describe all BIOS parameters for DFI mainboards, but also contain general information on Intel X58 Express chipset and Nehalem processor family, offer specific examples on how to overclock Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition processors. Now overclocking has become a little easier on DFI boards.
As a result, we can’t give DFI web-site a high mark because of different errors and hieroglyphs that make it real hard to navigate and use this site. However, we were extremely pleased to see the long-anticipated explanations for the BIOS parameters, the description of CPU-chipset functioning and a real example of an overclocking experiment performed on a DFI mainboard.