ASUS Z87-Plus ReviewBluePanda - July 7, 2013
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ASUS Z87-Plus Closer Look:
What board is complete without a functional BIOS? Thankfully ASUS has kept up with its tradition of easy to use but powerful BIOS implementations with the Z87-Plus. Once you get into the BIOS (via the method of your choice) you are greeted with an "EZ Mode" screen that displays a quick rundown of all major settings and modes. Three large buttons switch between Power Saving, Normal, and ASUS Optimal modes to quickly prioritize energy savings, balanced power and energy, and maximum performance. Some simple settings are available for fan settings, memory timings, and boot settings as well.
Thankfully ASUS didn't stop with the "EZ Mode" UEFI BIOS screen - clicking the "Advanced Mode" button or pressing F7 takes you to something more akin to the BIOS of old. Frankly, I'm glad. Perhaps I'm stuck back in my old ways but I'll take a monochrome text-only BIOS with only basic keyboard support over this new fancy graphical UEFI setup with mouse support and bitmaps everywhere. The first page here allows you to view items that you use often with the new "My Favorites" screen. There's also some functionality for basic note-taking and viewing what settings you changed on last modification. The second tab, "Main", reveals some very basic information about the current settings, BIOS revision, date, etc. Nothing really out of the oridinary but it is nice to see the notes and modified settings dialogs come along with each tab.
The "Ai Tweaker" tab is obviously the most important tab for all of us. After all, who wants a board that doesn't have any ability to overclock and torture our brand new CPUs? This tab holds everything you could possibly desire to tweak your CPU and memory speeds to your heart's content. One thing to note here in particular: ASUS Multicore Enhancement. This setting raises the Turbo multipliers to all be the same as the single-core load multiplier. Almost all Haswell CPUs should be able to handle this without any issue but it does add extra heat and power consumption to an already hot-running chip (especially with the stock cooler). There are quite helpful little notes on the right side of the screen for all options.
The "Advanced" tab has some advanced settings for your CPU, PCH, SATA, USB, and other system components. For you tweakers out there that just HAVE to change a setting on every page just to say you did, there are a lot of pages here for you to obsess over. ASUS left no stone unturned in terms of setting flexibility here. The "Monitoring" tab displays all current measurements taken by the board. Temperatures, fan speeds, and voltages are all laid out for easy sanity checking before attempting to boot your OS.
The "Boot" tab holds, not surprisingly, the various settings related to boot order and POST-time settings. There's nothing crazy here that you wouldn't expect from any high-end board from any manufacturer. The last tab, "Tool", reveals the built-in ASUS EZ Flash 2 utility that allows you to flash the BIOS with a simple USB thumb drive, the ASUS O.C. Profile utility that allows you to save various BIOS profiles, and the ASUS SPD Information tool that allows you to read the SPD information directly from your memory sticks.
Overall I have no real complaints about the BIOS on the Z87-Plus in terms of usability or functionality. Settings are where you would expect them, explanations are fairly clear, and there's even, in my own words, a "n00b mode" page that keeps the scarier parts of the BIOS away from inexperienced hands. And, of course, I did enjoy the very blue theme prevalent everywhere in the shiny new UEFI BIOS.