Articles: Mainboards

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BIOS Functionality

So far we have done both to Intel mainboards: criticized as well as praised, but in either case we pointed out that they had very user-unfriendly BIOS. All important parameters were almost randomly scattered over multiple sub-sections, and on top of that they were tricky to adjust during a multi-step procedure. However, it looks like very soon Intel mainboards will no longer suffer from this eternal shortcoming, because the new Intel DZ77RE-75K and Intel DZ77GA-70K mainboards feature a completely new Intel Visual BIOS. By the way, the boards are so similar that they use identical BIOS versions. So, let’s check out the new Visual BIOS using Intel DZ77RE-75K as an example (the BIOS of the Intel DZ77GA-75K is absolutely identical: you won’t find anything different there).

The startup section doesn’t seem too loaded, but it allows you to do a ton of things:

The menu in the upper part of the screen displays some information about the BIOS Setup, offers the option of switching to classical BIOS view or to extended Visual BIOS, load the default settings or exit. Then you get the mainboard model name and brief system specifications. The “Boot Order” window on the left displays the order of boot-up devices and you can change it by simply dragging and dropping items with your mouse pointer. If necessary, “Advanced” button will send you to more detailed configuration of the startup parameters, but we are going to dwell on these options a little later when we discuss the Visual BIOS in detail. “Overclocking Assistant” window on the right will let you raise the clock frequencies of the CPU, integrated graphics core and memory by simply moving the slider with your mouse. All related parameters, such as power consumption thresholds and voltages, will be adjusted automatically. The “Tuning”, “Devices” and “SATA” buttons below will navigate you to the corresponding sub-sections of the extended “Visual BIOS” mode, and “Profiles” button will let you save, load or delete settings profiles. Each profile may be assigned a descriptive name. At the very bottom of the screen, the “Welcome to the future of BIOS” message will be replaced with hints once you roll the mouse pointer over a selected option on the screen. In some cases you may press F1 key to get more helpful info. Below that you can see active hot key reminders and a search field. You can move to any parameter in the Visual BIOS by locating one of the words in its name.

Even this detailed description of the startup section doesn’t tell the whole story. You can notice an arrow symbol on the right or the three circles at the bottom, one the first of which is highlighted. You can click the arrow or the second circle to move on to the second page of the startup screen.

The creeping line in the window on the left lists all connected devices and the window in the center shows rotation speeds of the connected fans, system voltages and temperatures. The list of disk drives is displayed in the window on the right-hand side. The third startup screen page serves purely informational purposes reporting various system data.

The functionality of the startup section is so vast that in most cases the user will not need anything else. However, for initial or more detailed configuring options you can switch to advanced mode by pressing “Advanced Setup” button. This will lead you to the “Main” section.

The “Main” section reports different system info, allows setting current date and time and select a startup page, which will be displayed upon accessing the BIOS. The menu at the top of the screen will lead you back to the Home page or let you access any of the sections from the advanced “Visual BIOS” mode. By the way, when you press the Alt key, the active letter sin the section names will get highlighted. So, by pressing the Alt key and the corresponding letter at the same time, you can quickly get to the desired section.

“Devices & Peripherals” section is split into four sub-sections, where you can configure USB devices, SATA drives, integrated onboard controllers and installed expansion cards.

The first of the four sub-sections called “Cooling” tells you about the current fan rotation speeds, system voltages and temperatures and composes their variation graphs. Other sub-sections allow setting the fan rotation speeds in dependence to the temperatures, set acceptable range for voltages and temperatures.

The first screen of the “Performance” section serves informational purposes reporting the default, current (active) and proposed system parameters.

The next three sub-sections of the “Performance” section allow fine-tuning the processor, memory and integrated graphics core to your liking. You can set the values yourself or just slide the bar while watching the changes of the corresponding parameters. All the adjusted values will be highlighted with different color.


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