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BIOS Setup

New Click BIOS that first appeared on LGA1155 MSI mainboards is far from perfection as well as its old version that was available a few years ago. Luckily, the first glance at the MSI XPower boot-up screen shows that it is the same good old BIOS based on AMI microcode that has been significantly modified.

We have already discussed the features and functionality of MSI mainboards BIOS numerous times before, so today we will not post all the screenshots here. We would only like to dwell on the “Cell Menu” section, which contains settings and parameters for CPU overclocking and performance optimization.

The number of adjustable parameters is impressive. They have even been split into several sub-sections to make it easier to navigate through the busy main screen. We were very pleased with the informative contents of the section, where we can see all the major frequencies, memory timings, with the only exception of current voltages, which we are going to discuss a little later today. The table below summarizes all the BIOS functions available on MSI XPower:

The abundance of functions calls for some comments, so we would like to note that that mainboard not only reports the rotation speed of all five fans that can be connected to it. In fact, it also allows adjusting the rotation speed of all these fans. Only the rotation speed of the CPU fan will speed up and slow down automatically depending on the CPU utilization at the time. The rotation speed of other fans can be lowered and locked at a desired rate, which is a very rare feature on contemporary mainboards.

Now we need to refresh your memory about MSI’s brand name technologies. “O.C. Genie” is a tool for automatic overclocking, which isn’t perfect, like the similar tools and utilities from other mainboard makers. “O.C. Stepping” is an interesting feature that allows the system to start at a lower frequency than the desired one and then, once the operating system has loaded completely, to hit the desired frequency in a few increments. “U-Key” allows you to use a flash drive as an access key. The BIOS provides you all the details about your processor (CPU Spec) and memory (Memory-Z), and “Green Power” section allows you to manage power-saving technologies and turn off the LEDs without any additional utilities involved. The built-in M-Flash utility for BIOS updates is less convenient to work with than similar programs by other manufacturers, but offers you a rare opportunity to check out the new BIOS version without reflashing it into the mainboard, right from the flash-drive.

During the last test session involving MSI mainboards we had some issues with adjusting their memory timings: we had to set them for each channel individually. The BIOS of MSI XPower mainboard has this issue resolved in a very exquisite way. By default all timings are set automatically, you can select the “Link” mode and set the timings for all channels at once, or select the “Unlink” mode and in this case set all timings for each channel individually.

We have listed all the major advantages of the BIOS in MSI XPower, but there are a few drawbacks as well. First of all, it is the way the mainboard works with the voltages. The current numbers hide behind the faceless “Auto”, while it could be nice to know what they are in the nominal mode and how they increase during overclocking. Moreover, it’s been a while since we saw any MSI mainboards that could simply increase the processor voltage above the nominal without losing all the processor power-saving technologies. We may leave the voltage setting at Auto, but in this case it will automatically increase during overclocking, and sometimes even more than necessary. You may set the voltage at a desired level, but in this case it will no longer drop in idle mode. As a result, we can’t overclock our processor at a default voltage setting and all power-saving technologies intact, we will inevitable lose at least some of the efficiency of Intel’s power-saving technologies. All this creates certain obstacles during overclocking, but we are going to discuss it in greater detail in the corresponding part of our today’s review.

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