ASUS F2A85-V PRO Motherboard Reviewformerstaff -
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If it has been a while or if you are having your first look at the ASUS UEFI BIOS and utilities, it may take you some time to get acquainted with it only for the number of options at your disposal. I have said it before and I will say it again. ASUS makes overclocking as involved and specific as you like, or with one click will take all of the sport out of it if that is what you want. It seems ASUS is constantly grooming and tweaking its BIOS and overclocking utilities including Windows 8 certification and a change to a CAP UEFI format. First a look at the UEFI BIOS.
Entering the BIOS under EZ Mode you can choose basic function settings from energy saving, normal, and extreme. You can also focus your system performance towards quiet, energy saving, or high performance on an animated radar graph. Above you get basic system voltages and temperatures, and below you can rearrange the boot order. From here you also have the option of entering the advanced mode by hitting F7. You can also save a copy of any page of the UEFI BIOS by installing a USB Flash drive and pressing F12 when in the current page you want saved. The main tab in the advanced mode is for very basic CPU, memory capacity, speed, and BIOS information. Here you set the system clock and security level and that is about it.
Ai Tweaker is where things get interesting. Incorporating the Digi+Power into the BIOS, some of the settings are of different parameters than what has previously been used. First up is Load Line Calibration. We have separate settings for both the CPU and Northbridge. Off to the right side is a description and tips for using each adjustment. When you get to Current Capability you are able to increase the voltage capacitance and the load line operating range for VRM switching frequencies. This, among other things, is good news for those of us that want to run high overclocks with large amounts of system memory by widening the power range for syncing or raising the tolerance for billions more memory cells to work together without throwing errors.
The CPU and CPU/NB current capability will keep the CPU from throttling down at high loads when raised. If you change one of the auto setting to manual, it will take you to a secondary screen within Ai Tweaker to make adjustments to the CPU and memory multipliers, voltage, and timings. If you choose to have Ai Overclock Tuner do the work, all you need to do is pick the CPU frequency you are aiming for and let the peripheral settings auto adjust around that frequency.
Moving down the list of power delivery options and optimizations are CPU Power Phase Control, which delivers increased stability to the CPU, or enable VRM Spread Spectrum for lower emission of EMI (electromagnetic interference), which also increases stability by limiting interference to surrounding components. CPU Power Duty Control allows the VRM to balance the loads applied onto each power phase to correspond to either the temperature or the current draw of each power phase. CPU Power Thermal control prevents the damage to the CPU power solution.
You can see that digital power offers new and different implementations and protections along with the ability to control how the power is delivered to the CPU, NB, and DRAM. The best way I found to overclock with this system is to set the parameters for the digital power delivery in the BIOS, and then do the fine tuning in the ASUS TurboV EVO Suite II. As I said, most of the controls are intuitive, but it may be worth some time invested to experiment incrementally to find how these values interact with each other when manually overclocking.
Under the Advanced tab you get more CPU info and cache capacities. Below you can enable and disable power functions, core boost, and not execute 'executable space protection'. Under the Monitor tab you get a look in real time at the system voltages and temperatures. Below that is the enable or disable for Q-Fan control.
Under the Boot tab you have all of the options for what device to boot from first, what order to boot in, and the ability to change the order. At the top is the option to enable or disable ASUS 'Fast Boot'. What Fast Boot does is drastically reduce boot times by optimizing the boot sequence in Windows 7 and Windows 8. You can also choose how the computer reacts and recovers from a no post, a loss of power, or wake up in hibernation or sleep mode. The Tool mode is for naming, saving, and loading your various overclock profiles. When you arrive at the Tool screen the current OC profile is ready to be saved if it has not already been saved.
That is a quick look at the BIOS. Time to see how all this control and option reacts to overclocking and benchmarking. Up next have a look at the official specificationss and features and then we'll heat this thing up.