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BIOS Functionality

Unlike many other mainboards that switched to the UEFI BIOS, Gigabyte still uses the so-called Hybrid EFI. It implies the use of the same well-familiar BIOS based on Award microcode, where only the support for hard disk drives with over 3 TB storage capacity is implemented with EFI technologies. When we discussed the functionality of Gigabyte BIOS for LGA 1155 processors, the first thing we did was show you the startup screen, because only Gigabyte mainboards (and later on we learned that Asus ROG mainboards, too) were capable of displaying the actual frequency of the overclocked processor. All other mainboards displayed only the nominal CPU frequency, no matter which operation mode it was in. This time we will also start with a startup screen, because the situation turned out to be just the absolute opposite of what we experienced before: Gigabyte AM3+ mainboards are about the only ones out there that are unable to display the current CPU frequency, while all other mainboards we have tested so far can do it just fine.

Just in case let me remind you that on Gigabyte mainboards we can get access to a complete set of BIOS options only if we press “Ctrl-F1” in the main BIOS window.

It is convenient that “MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.)” section with all overclocking and fine-tuning parameters is the first on the list. This section contains most of the necessary settings, but not all, and as we will see later on, some of them got abandoned in the “Advanced BIOS Features” section.

Compared with the BIOS of Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 BIOS, we noticed that the “Turbo CPB” parameter was missing, although it wasn’t working anyway. Other than that, everything remained just as organized, convenient and informative as before. However, the moment you actually get to work with the BIOS, you immediately find certain issues with it. Take, for example, the adjustment of the memory voltage setting. It may be set above the nominal for overclocker memory modules, as well as below the nominal for low-voltage modules. The supported range goes from1.025 V to 2.135 V, dangerous values are highlighted with color and blink, the increment is extremely low – only 0.005 V.

There is no real harm from having such a small adjustment increment, but there is no real good either. In my opinion, it would be much more convenient to have a 0.01 V increment, because it allows changing the voltage with sufficient precision but in fewer clicks. The processor core voltage can also be set not only above but also below the nominal value, though its adjustment increment is way too big for contemporary CPUs – 0.025 V. I can’t even remember anymore when I came across a large increment like that. Most contemporary mainboards have an adjustment increment of half the size, and Asus mainboards have a four times smaller one!

There is only one sub-section in the “MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.)” section and it contains options for the memory timings configuring. Everything seems to be very convenient and informative, you see all current timings and their values from the modules SPD. However, if we do not go with the automatic configuration mode, you will have to set each and every timing manually. You can’t adjust only a few selected parameters and leave all others in Auto.

“Standard CMOS Features” section is as standard as its name:

“Advanced BIOS Features” section allows us to modify the boot-up devices order on system startup and a few other parameters. Namely, there is an entire block of options in the beginning of this section connected with the processor that for some reason didn’t get included into the “MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.)” section.

The extensive list of parameters in the “Integrated Peripherals” section allows configuring the South Bridge and additional controllers.

“Power Management Setup” section has a regular set of parameters:

“PC Health Status” section shows us the current voltages, temperatures and fan rotation speeds. Gigabyte mainboards retained their ability to adjust the rotation speed of three-pin processor fans, which is a definite advantage. However, the BIOS for Intel platforms already allows user adjustment, while this BIOS doesn’t allow it yet and all adjustment modes are selected automatically, which is a definite disadvantage. It is obviously a plus to be able to adjust the rotation speed of the system case fans, however, the only three- or four-pin fan you can control is the one connected to the four-pin “System FAN1” connector. The rotation speed of the “System FAN2” and Power FAN” cannot be changed, which is a minus.

You can use some functional keys in the main menu of the Gigabyte mainboards BIOS to gain access to certain additional features. Pressing F9 will display system information on your screen.

You may also press F11 to save one of the eight full BIOS settings profiles. You can give each profile a detailed descriptive name and you will be warned when trying to overwrite an existing profile. You can load the profiles from the menu that pops up after pressing the F12 key. Besides the profiles you save manually, the system will also automatically save all configurations after a successful POST pass, so you will be able to restore them as well. In addition to system memory, you can use external media to save and load profiles.

By pressing F8 you will launch the integrated BIOS reflashing tool – Q-Flash Utility.

The BIOS of Gigabyte mainboards is pretty convenient to work with and has everything necessary for successful overclocking and system performance optimization. However, it looks better when you just glance over it, because as soon as you actually start working with it, you uncover a lot of little issues that may be pretty annoying. Moreover, the BIOS has been long lacking the options for configuring proprietary power-saving technologies, such as dynamic change of the number of active voltage regulator phases depending on the CPU utilization, for example. Most mainboard makers have already implemented features like that in their mainboards, but with Gigabyte you still have to install “Dynamic Energy Saver” utility. Overall, Gigabyte mainboards have already started to yield to the products from other makers, who have already implemented UEFI BIOS and mouse support. And unfortunately, Gigabyte mainboards for AMD CPUs are an additional half a step behind in their progress compared with the mainboards for the Intel platform.

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