ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 Reviewccokeman -
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ASRock has included a few specific utilities that offer added functionality and capabilities to the ASRock Z77 Extreme 4. The utilities that I will focus on are the ones that offer the most usability, including XFast USB that improves transfer throughput on attached USB 3.0 storage, XFast LAN to manage network traffic, XFast Ram, Instant Boot, and the company's own overclocking utility AXTU.
This utility is used to allow the system to resume instantly from a cold boot. The idea is to give the user an instant-on feel each time the user starts the system, much like you get when starting up your smart phone or tablet.
This little utility works similarly to ASUS USB 3.0 Boost to increase data throughput to attached USB 3.0 storage devices. The software component is powered by technologies from FNet. By enabling the software Turbo Mode, the transfer bandwidth is increased substantially across the board from the 4KB file size all the way up to the 4MB file size.
This utility is designed to allow the end user to have the ability to shape their online experience by managing how and when the network traffic is sent and received. This tool is part of the XFast test suite and is provided by cFos software. The utility is fully configurable through the settings panel. A small monitoring window will show on the bottom right of the screen that can be expanded to show data trends. This window can be hidden from view so as to not interrupt the end user's view during a fierce online fire fight.
ASRock Extreme Tuning Utility (AXTU) is a software application that allows the user to overclock their system, as well as monitor critical system operating temperatures and voltages while in the operating system environment. There are a total of six menus to choose from: Hardware Monitoring, Fan Control, Overclocking, OC DNA, IES, and XFast Ram. Hardware monitoring does just what it says, allowing the user to monitor clock speeds, fan speeds, and temperatures of the CPU and motherboard, as well as system critical voltages. Fan control is used to manage the cooling performance of the attached fans, either by manual control or by temperature. Overclocking allows the user to tune the CPU bclock, clock multiplier, and voltages to deliver the highest stable OC possible before adjusting the settings permanently in the BIOS. OC DNA allows the user to set the saved profiles from the BIOS and load each of them. IES (Intelligent Energy Saver) is used to manage the power consumption and active power phases feeding the CPU. Last is XFast Ram, a tool that is used to set up a RamDisk to improve system responsiveness and disk performance.
The utility suite included by ASRock with the Z77 Extreme four is fully functional and offers the user a way to tweak the performance of the installed hardware to get as much as possible from it. Instant Boot was an interesting tool in that the system does respond instantly to a start request. However, the penalty for this is an extended shutdown time of over a minute, as the system reboots and puts the system to sleep.