ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 Reviewccokeman - October 28, 2012
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ASRock has implemented an UEFI BIOS from AMI with GUI support on the Z77 Extreme 4 that has seven separate areas to explore. The BIOS is contained on a 64Mb IC and supports the "Plug and Play" standards, is ACPI 1.1 Compliance for wake up events, offers SMBIOS 2.3.1 support, and features a full spectrum of voltage adjustments, including those for the CPU core, IGPU, DRAM, PLL, VTT, and VCCSA. Visually, the BIOS on the ASRock Extreme 4 is appealing and laid out with seven separate areas for adjustments to be made. As each section is selected, the selection icon lights up while the remainder are more subdued.
The Main page contains information on the installed components, the BIOS revision, time and date, access to the system browser, and the OMG tool that can be used to limit access to the internet.
This section is where the vast majority of adjustments will be made when tweaking the performance of the system, from the CPU to the memory. At the top of the page are a few preset options that allow the user to overclock the installed CPU and IGP with one click of the mouse. In the description window, there is the obligatory warning that overclocking may damage your processor or installed components. The balance of the page includes the settings that are used to tune both performance and voltagea used to achieve that performance. Running at stock speeds means you can leave the majority of the settings alone. CPU Configuration allows tuning of the bclock and clock multiplier ratio on K-SKU CPUs, enable or disable Intel Turbo Boost and Speedstep, and set power limits and duration. DRAM Timing Configuration allows for basic memory settings, such as setting the DRAM frequency manually or by employing the XMP Profile on your installed modules. DRAM Configuration offers a more granular look at the memory timing configuration. Further down on the page are the voltage and LLC options for the CPU, DRAM, IGP, and associated hardware. Saving profiles is one avenue to return to a specific setting package that can be used as a starting point for an overclocking session or for when you want a little more CPU power over and above what Intel's Turbo Boost 2 feature set allows.
Under this section are a lot of options that affect the functionality of the motherboard and installed hardware. CPU Configuration is another way to get to the specific CPU parameters that govern how the CPU operates, including both power savings and how many cores are active, as well as the bclock muliplier. Northbrdge configuration is to set up the configuration of the IGP and discrete GPU operating parameters. Audio and onboard device configuration is under the South Bridge configuration tab. Storage configuration is where you will configure the method with which the attached storage will operate. USB support is where you can enable or disable support for USB 2.0 and 3.0 connections. At the bottom, under the configuration tabs, are options to flash the BIOS from an attached storage drive or to search the web.
In this section, one can observe the operating temperatures of the installed processor and motherboard as it sits in the BIOS. Voltages can be monitored for the 12V, 5V and 3.3V lines to give the user an indication that something may be wrong on the supply side. Fan speeds can be monitored in this tab, along with setting up a fan profile for each of the fans attached to the fan headers. The next to last option is the temperature protection setting for the CPU, which is a way to prevent the system from overheating by setting a defined temperature that will shut down the system to prevent damage to the installed components. The last option in this tab is where the Dehumidifier function is set up. This enables the system to power up to reduce the impact of being in a humid environment where the relative humidity can cause system corrosion reducing the useful lifespan of the system board.
In this section you set the boot order of the attached storage devices and in which order the devices are polled. Enabling or disabling the full screen manufacturer's logo in place of the POST screen is also an option, as is enabling boot from LAN.
Security & Exit:
The Security tab is used to set both a user and administrator password for access to the BIOS – use full for those of us with kids who think they know everything about computers. The Exit function tab is where you can revert back to factory default settings should your chosen settings prove a little aggressive.
I found this implementation from ASRock to be easy to work through with little to hinder the experience. While not as granular as some BIOS on the market, it allows you to tweak and tune enough options to improve system response and performance.