P67 Motherboard Roundupccokeman - March 8, 2011
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The introduction of the P67 based motherboards from ASUS have brought the first ASUS boards out that use the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS. This implementation gets rid of the old "feel" when navigating through the BIOS and replaces it with the feeling of navigating through an operating system. Instead of the keyboard being the primary way to navigate through the BIOS you use the mouse and use the same gestures and mouse movements used in the OS to select options and values. The keyboard is not totally abandoned but plays a lesser role in the process. The EFI Forum is a location where you can find out everything you want to know about the EFI standard and its implementation. The first question on their FAQ page is What is EFI? Here is the answer given "UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) will be a specification detailing an interface that helps hand off control of the system for the pre-boot environment (i.e.: after the system is powered on, but before the operating system starts) to an operating system, such as Windows* or Linux*. UEFI will provide a clean interface between operating systems and platform firmware at boot time, and will support an architecture-independent mechanism for initializing add-in cards." I will show a brief walk through of the BIOS used on the P8P67 series and show a couple shots as to how the ROG BIOS differs from that used on the P8P67 series. Although they have the same interface, the options differ in a few sections.
EZ-Mode is just what it implies. This page gives a top line view of the system in regards to the CPU used, the amount of memory and BIOS revision. Under that are monitors for the temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. Several presets can be used to optimize performance and energy use with the boot order listed along the bottom of the page. With the move to "Advanced Mode" a more familiar layout is seen on screen. In the advanced mode there are a total of six sub menus that contain all of the BIOS options. The Main page shows much the same information seen on the EZ-Mode page - just in a different format.
AI Tweaker is the section used to adjust the performance of the CPU and memory installed in the system. AI Overclock tuner is a one stop shop with three options: Auto; Manual and XMP. WIth the manual option chosen, a new set of options appears allowing you to adjust the "BCLK By All Cores" so that the Turbo Boost multiplier can be adjusted in the OS or only in the BIOS. The default being Auto. Memory Frequency gives the option of setting a memory multiplier higher than the default 1333Mhz setting. EPU Power saving mode is what it implies, a way to lower the carbon footprint of your system. OC Tuner is used to run the auto tune algorithm after the reboot from BIOS. DRAM timing control is where you set the memory sub timings with CPU Power management being where you enable and setup the Turbo Boost multiplier. Excellent overclocking can be had with the Tubo Mode parameters left on auto.
Further down the page are the voltage options starting with Load Line Calibration. There are five presets that work their way up from Regular to Extreme. The VRM switching frequency is another tool for overclocking that is new to this lineup. Additional options include Phase control, Duty Control and CPU Current Capability.
At the bottom of the page are the voltage options. CPU voltage has two options, Offset mode and Manual mode for applying voltage to the CPU. Offset mode allows for an offset from the base CPU voltage instead of a specifically applied voltage in the manual mode. DRAM voltage should be manually set for high performance modules. Beyond these options are the VCCSA, VCCIO, CPU PLL, PCH, DRAM DATA REF Voltages with CPU Spread Spectrum as the last option.
The Advanced section allows additional configuration of the CPU parameters, configuration of the SATA, USB, PCH, enable or disable the onboard hardware.
The Monitor Functions show the operating temperature of the CPU and motherboard as well as the fan speed of the CPU fan and three chassis fans and Power fan if connected. CPU Q-Fan control can be used to intelligently increase or decrease fan speeds based on temperature.
The Boot section is where the boot device priority is set, the keyboard numlock state is set, the Full Screen Logo is enabled or disabled and the BIOS mode you enter when first entering the EFI BIOS. EZ mode is the default. Choosing the order in which the installed optical and HDD devices are polled is completed here as well.
The Tool section is where the ASUS EZ-Flash utility can be found to flash the BIOS. ASUS OC Profile allows the user to save BIOS profiles with up to a total of eight spots available. ASUS SPD Information shows the information stored on the SPD chip of the memory modules.
The ROG implementation is slightly different. Not just because of the color scheme but because there are options not available on the standard P8P67 boards. Below you will find a series of screen shots that show most of the differences in the ROG BIOS as well as a screenshot form each BIOS page.
And there you have the ASUS EFI BIOS. I found that it was quite easy to move around in with a mouse although the keyboard is not entirely gone. Some functions such as scrolling through values after an option is selected still need the use of the keyboard. Overall this is a huge improvement over the traditional blue screen.