ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden ReviewRHKCommander959 - December 15, 2013
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ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden Closer Look:
The ECS Z87H3-AX Golden uses UEFI BIOS over dual ROM chips for failsafe recovery capabilities. The BIOS version used is American Megatrends Inc (AMI). The AMI BIOS is installed on two 64MB SPI Flash ROM chips and supports Plug and Play, Dual Displays, Dual BIOS, Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) 3.0, Direct Media Interface (DMI) 2.0, and ECS EZ BIOS.
The UEFI BIOS is much more advanced these days, akin to a basic operating system. Some have web capability and most can take screenshots and save them to thumb drives. Being ready for Plug and Play means that the system will automatically discover and configure any devices being plugged in such as thumb drives, or a mouse and keyboard. This BIOS is entirely navigable by mouse and the thumb drive can be used for BIOS updating. Screenshots are not yet supported by this motherboard, but I imagine it is a feature that is going to be added to future BIOS revisions.
Entering the BIOS begins with the EZ Mode. This page has various temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. A few minor settings are also adjustable, including boot order and performance level. At the left of the main screen is generalized performance options that include: Normal, Performance, Power, and Quiet. Boot priority is indicated by icons representing devices; these icons can be moved left to increase or right to decrease boot order. Nearby along the bottom is an Exit button to get out of the BIOS. At the top are language options for those not comfortable with the default English BIOS. Next to that is the Default button to restore BIOS default settings. At the top right is the Advanced button; clicking this will open the real BIOS for anyone who wants to do more intense adjustments. The background is still colorful, but everything else looks like a classic BIOS layout. Seven tabs separate the different options, and a help menu at the right aids in navigation. The first tab is Main where language, date, and time can be adjusted.
The second tab is the Advanced tab. This area has a lot of different settings available — LAN, PC Health Status, Power Management, PCI Express Configuration, ACPI, CPU, SATA, USB, Super IO, and Intel Rapid Start, Smart Connect, and Thunderbolt settings. The third tab is dedicated to Chipset settings. These tabs together are more for a custom fit setup rather than overclocking performance, as that is where the next tab comes in.
The Motherboard Intelligent BIOS X (M.I.B. X) tab is all encompassing when it comes to the overclocking-capable settings. The main area has one setting that can be adjusted: Spread Spectrum, enabled by default. Spread Spectrum reduces EMI created by the motherboard at the potential cost of stability. CPU, memory frequency, and memory capacity are also displayed. This tab is separated into five main areas — CPU settings, North Bridge, Memory, Voltages, and Profiles. The CPU settings include the CPU Multiplier Ratio, Intel SpeedStep settings, enabling or disabling Turbo Mode, changing the Turbo Mode Multiplier Ratios, and adjusting the BCLK Frequency.
The North Bridge page is literally empty so next is the Voltages page. The top has memory DIMM, PCH, SB, and CPU Input voltage options. Vdroop can also be adjusted here. The current voltages are also displayed. After this are several groupings of voltage: memory expanded, CPU Adaptive/Override voltage, RING/Cache Ratio multiplier and Adaptive/Override voltage, SVID, FIVR, Uncore, and IOA settings. Manually setting the primary voltages except Processor Input Voltage (instead using CPU Adaptive Voltage Target) made overclocking stable. Not doing so would cause crashing or hard freezes. The memory settings page lists the memory information and any XMP profiles. Frequency can be chosen from a list and the dozens of settings can be set manually or left on automatic, which assigns them their default settings displayed next to them. Current settings are also displayed for verification. The ECS Z87H3-AX Golden was able to successfully load the 2400MHz XMP profile of the Patriot memory kit.
The Profile Configuration tab allows users to save or load custom settings; this allows users to experiment with custom settings without having to give up prior settings. The Boot Configuration tab holds all of the general boot up options. Common settings include: Fast Boot, NumLock State, Quiet Boot, Boot Mode, Boot Priority, and properties of possible boot drives.
The Security tab has options for Administrator and User passwords, and enabling secure boot settings. The Administrator account is able to view and change settings whereas User is only able to view them. The last tab is Exit. Settings include returning to EZ Mode, Saving or Discarding Changes and Exiting or Restarting, Saving Options or Changes, Discarding the Changes, Restoring Defaults, and performing a Boot Override to continue booting onto a specific drive from the list below this option.
With the BIOS out of the way we can get on to the testing!