Asus P8Z77 WS Reviewccokeman - October 18, 2012
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ASUS started using its UEFI BIOS implementation back with the introduction of the P67 chipset socket 1155 motherboard offerings. With each successive chipset the BIOS has become more fluid and feature rich. ASUS' interface is tweaked to add and subtract settings as needed in the BIOS based on the features of the board. A perfect example would be with the ROG offerings where the memory settings are in another league by comparison to the featue rich implementation on the P8Z77 WS. Under the skin is an upgrade to what ASUS has given the end user in the past. For instance, there is a "shorcut" menu to quickly access commonly used functions or areas without having to search the BIOS for them accessed by pressing the F3 key. There is an EZ Mode and an Advanced Mode to accommodate any and all users from the, dare I say it, noob to the extreme overclocker looking for that last MHz.
There are a pair of 64MB Flash ROMs on board in case a BIOS flash goes bad or you just want to switch between BIOSs, if the eight programmable file presets are not enough. ASUS offers BIOS Flash protection via its Crash Free BIOS 3, USB BIOS Flashback, so that the BIOS can be flashed without a CPU or DRAM being installed in the system, 2.2TB+ HDD support, and GPT Boot. Overclocking recovery via CPR (CPU Parameter Recall) makes a failed boot a one-time occurrence. ASUS has a screenshot feature called BIOS Print to allow screenshots of the BIOS to be saved to a flash drive by pushing the F12 key and saveing the image to a flash drive, A useful feature for sharing settings with community members or when reaching out for technical support.
When you look at the UEFI BIOS as a whole ASUS has all the tools to allow the end user the ability to run at both stock and overclocked no matter the position in the product stack. Let's look through this version to see what it offers.
EZ and Advanced Mode:
The EZ Mode allows the user to make a limited amount of changes and is more to illustrate the time, date, and the installed hardware configuration. Advanced Mode opens up the entire BIOS to allow the the user to take advantage of all the BIOS has to offer with access to every setting and feature allowed in the BIOS. Advanced Mode consists of six sub-menus to take advantage of the installed hardware.
This section is sparse by comparison to many sections of ASUS' UEFI BIOS. In this section, you'll be able to access the time, date, BIOS revision, CPU information, amount of installed memory, system language, and security features, such as admin passwords.
Advanced Mode: AI Tweaker:
This section of the BIOS contains the settings used to adjust CPU and memory frequencies, timings, and the voltages needed to run the system. Up top is the option to overclock the system with AI Overclock tool, which sets a specific set of parameters to boot at enhanced clock speeds. The OC Tuner tool is much like what we have in the AI Suite tools. Voltage adjustments are granular enough that the user does not have to apply much more voltage than is needed to reach the clock speed goals due to the efficiency of the board and the LLC implementation. The DRAM timing section is almost as complex as what you might see in an ROG offering in that it has enough options to allow for some spirited overclocking while still allowing the novice the ability to learn on the job.
Under this tab, one can set the CPU configuration parameters, such as the bclock multiplier, enable Turbo Boost and Intel Speed step, C-states, SATA, USB, and have the ability to enable or disable the onboard device functionality. Under the SATA configuration, you can set the connection type for disk drives to AHCI, RAID or IDE, and turn on or off the hot swap feature. Under the USB sub-menu is the ability to configure how the USB interface is managed. Last but not least, the onboard device configuration allows the user to enable or disable the sound, USB 3.0, LAN, and Boot Rom, as well as the USB 3.0 controllers. Under the System agent tab is where you would set up the graphics configuration including where you would setup the ability to run an Hybrid graphics configuration.
Under this tab is the monitoring functionality for the board. The voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures can be checked and verified against the set parameters. Q-Fan control can be enabled or disabled. When enabled it allows the user to manually configure the fan duty cycle of the fans attached to the PWM controlled headers. Using Fan Expert 2 in ASUS' AI Suite II is an attractive alternative option on this board as it learns what speeds your installed fans' low and high limits are to dynamically manage the thermals inside the chassis.
The Boot menu is where you set the sequence that the drives are polled for bootable media. The primary drive can be identified when more than one is installed. The full screen logo can be enabled or disabled at POST, Wait for F1 if Errors can be enabled or disabled, the length of time the POST report shows can be altered, and the setup mode that the BIOS will open into can be set to EZ or Advanced.
This section is one that is quite useful for the enthusiast. ASUS' EZ Flash 2 utility is hands down one of the easiest ways to flash a BIOS. It has been imitated, but not duplicated. Search for the BIOS file on any installed media, choose the BIOS file, choose to flash the BIOS, and the process is automated from that point on. SPD Information shows the SPD profile on the memory DIMMs. Under ASUS OC Profile, the end user can save up to eight distinct profiles. BIOS Flashback is used to force the system to boot from either of the BIOS chips or copy the data from one to the other. Drive Expert is a utility that allows the user to choose from three different settings to maximize drive performance and usage.
The Exit tab at the top right allows you to load optimized or safe default settings, save or discard changes made to the BIOS settings, launch the BIOS in EZ or Advanced mode, or launch the EFI shell.
ASUS' BIOS implementations just continues to get better with each successive generation and are easily the best implementation out so far. All the options spread out in areas that make sense allowing the user to drill down as needed. The shortcut feature accessed by pushing F3 from the BIOS screen allows for quick and easy access to the most used feature sets in the UEFI BIOS.