ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard ReviewWaco - December 29, 2013
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ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 Motherboard Closer Look: The BIOS
The new UEFI BIOS pages seem to add more and more to look at, though it doesn't seem like there is really that much more to change; well unless of course you are looking at a DELL motherboard setup. The one thing they tend to offer more of, sometimes, is better descriptions of what the different things you can change actually are (well like I said, sometimes). The ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0 is not too hard on the eyes. There are six main tabs to focus what you want to change/look at: Main, Ai Tweaker, Advanced, Monitor, Boot, and Tool. There is also an Exit button in the upper right in case you are not navigating completely with a keyboard. The Main screen shows you quick information on what BIOS version you are currently running, the total amount of memory seen, your system date and time, as well as what your preferred system language is. In the lower right you can see how to navigate the menus with the keyboard options; most of which are pretty straight forward. One worth pointing out, and one which has become popular with UEFI boards, is the F12 function of print screening. This is definitely a handy feature when you want to keep track of settings while setting up your OC or perhaps just having trouble and need your buddy to take a look at what you have set. Either way it's quite handy to be able to dump settings quickly to a USB stick with the literal click of a button.
Jumping into the actual fun stuff, let's take a look at the Ai Tweaker tab. There's a little more here than just the tab leads on. You can scroll down to more settings, as well as navigate another layer deep (shown in the next picture set). Default settings are all about set on AUTO, which is the usual pain in the ass of trying to really figure out what the "default" options are. Anyway, this tab allows you to play with the basic CPU settings, adjusting your CPU ratio, turning off the auto OC, and setting up your new memory to run at proper speeds. Scrolling down you can adjust your voltage settings by either choosing AUTO, Offset Mode, or Manual Mode. You can guess which one I'll be playing with – full Manual! It lets you tweak the individual voltages and get a finer tuned OC, or just perhaps a little more out of that OC. Everyone knows that extra bit counts.
Moving into one of those sub-menus, DRAM Timing Control, you can find even more settings to play with. I think I'll leave these on AUTO for now, but you can really play with your RAM settings here; that's a completely different world of overclocking (no time today). Another sub-menu, DRAM Driving Control, provides even more settings; again I'm showing them off, but we won't get into the details in this review – just enjoy knowing they are there. Additional sub-menus include: OC Tuner and DIGI+ Power Control where you guessed it, you can play with more settings for your overclock and power management settings. Are you power saving or power hungry?
The Advanced tab has some more settings, perhaps not all advanced, but provide you with a nice list of menus to access what you are looking to fix. Beneath the CPU Configuration options you can toggle some of those features that are often hard to find. Cool'n'Quiet is listed here along with the C1E settings and Core C6 State options that can often help quite a bit in getting that last bit. One new-to-me feature, as I haven't had a board with it before, is the HPC Mode. It is supposed to keep the CPU from throttling. It is intended, I think, to be much like the big high performance clusters and never throttle down. However, in practice it seems to still throttle at some point.
The Monitor tab does just what you'd expect: it provides live updates of what is happening right now on the board. It sees the CPU's reported temperature, the VCORE voltage, the different voltage rails, and even fan speeds for those plugged into the board. Further down the list you can set fan profile options and even set a minimum speed you want your CPU fan to run at. This ensures that even on the quiet mode your fan keeps some air moving.
The Boot tab is pretty straight forward and I won't dwell long here. You can enable "Fast Boot" to reduce your start up time by reducing the devices launched with boot. With it Enabled you can see that USB will partially initialize, PS/2 will fully initialize, and your network ROM won't even go. After a power loss it knows to boot up slowly and make sure things are okay and defaults to a Normal Boot after an outage. You can of course tweak these settings as you see fit. It's enabled by default and really I see no reason for it to be disabled. The rest of your standard boot options are here as well: turn off that full screen logo, be sure to wait for the F1 on error, and get things set the way you like it on boot.
The final tab of most of these UEFI BIOS pages is the Tool tab. It allows you to easily flash your BIOS with a thumb drive and access saved OC BIOS settings so you can go back to something you know is stable without going all the way back to stock every time (no more losing your settings). The SPD menu gets you access to the RAM timings directly off the sticks. It can read the XMP profiles for Intel boards, but unfortunately these sticks lack the AMP profiles that AMD supports.