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MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Review

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MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Closer Look:

MSI has come a long way and continues to do so with its Click BIOS. Click BIOS 4 is a UEFI BIOS from AMI that is an ACPI 5.0, PnP1.0a, SM BIOS 2.7, and DMI 2.0 multi-language BIOS. A pair of 64MB Winbond ICs each contain the BIOS. Each BIOS can be accessed via a two-position switch that can select from BIOS A or B, should you want to use each one differently or just use the redundancy as a fail safe backup. The main BIOS page is where you will navigate from one tab to the next. The GUI provides basic information at the top of the page, including CPU temperature, date, time, installed processor, CPU, and DRAM frequency and capacity. Some new additions with this iteration are: a shortcuts menu for quick access to commonly used pages in the BIOS; a favorites section to build your own specific shortcuts; and, as you exit the BIOS, a third option is available to the user to view the changes made in your current trip through the BIOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settings: The first section is Settings, where you can check the system info under System Status. The Advanced tab is when you manage the IGP settings, enable or disable Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect Technologies, and set up the power management features. The Boot section is where you manage the boot priority of the installed storage devices. Security is where you can set up an admin password and configure the chassis intrusion settings, while Save and Exit allows for a reset to factory defaults or the acceptance of any system changes.

 

 

OC: This section is the area where the performance of the installed hardware can be managed: bclock adjustments; voltages for the CPU, memory, and control circuits; memory speed and timings; bclock strap settings; and DRAM ratios. This area is fairly robust and the window to the right gives a brief description of the line item. If you will be manually tuning the Z97 XPOWER AC, this is the area you will spend the most time tweaking for performance. In this section, the BIOS options can be minimized by choosing the Simple option as the very first setting. If you want the "Full Monty", choose Advanced.

 

 

 

M-Flash is where the user can flash or back up the latest BIOS revisions. Through the course of testing the Z97 XPOWER AC, I flashed several of the available BIOSs to see how they functioned. Using the M-Flash tool proved to be anti-climactic, as it just worked as intended: put the BIOS file on a flash drive, chose your file, then flash and reboot. Three BIOS flashes and no failures prove to me that the tool works.

 

 

OC Profile: This section allows the user to save up to six distinct profiles, which can be named individually so you can at least remember what each profile was. This way you get easy access without having to reconfigure the BIOS each time you want to change to a more or less aggressive profile. You can save profiles to or from a flash drive for added profile capacity.

 

 

Hardware Monitor: This section opens to show configurable fan profiles and controls for the five onboard PWM fan headers. The current voltages supplied by the power supply are registered on the bottom of the window in small charts. CPU and system temperatures are in the upper right of the window on this page.

 

 

Board Explorer is a pretty cool feature that visually shows which parts of the PCB are occupied with hardware and highlights them in bright red. Using a mouse to roll over the Z97 XPOWER AC image, you get a brief explanation or picture of the items that are installed.

 

 

As a UEFI BIOS, you get full mouse and keyboard support so that you can freely navigate the menus and sub-menus in Click BIOS 4. This as an improvement to MSI's intuitive and well laid out Click BIOS implementations of the past.




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