P67 Roundup Part Twotacohunter52 -
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When you buy a motherboard you also get all the bells and whistles that come with it. This usually means utilities. The utilities that motherboard manufacturers include with its product come in all shapes and sizes. Some are aimed at overclockers, in the form of overclocking utilities and monitoring programs. There are also more widely used utilities, such as programs that make it much easier to perform a BIOS Flash. We even see built-in mini operating systems that give you the power to browse the web long before Windows would have booted. Today I'll be looking at the overclocking and monitoring utilities included with these motherboards.
The Sapphire P67 Pure Black Hydra comes to the table equipped with the TriXX overclocking and monitoring utility. Many users know TriXX as Sapphire's video card overclocking utility that is equipped with voltage controls, but what good is an overclocking utility if you can't overclock your CPU. The version of TriXX included with the P67 Pure Black Hydra is meant for overclocking your processor while still in Windows. You'll have access to voltage controls for the VCore, DIMM Voltage, VTT, DIMM DQA, DIMM DQB, DIMM SMRR, PCH VCore, VSA, and PLL. Along with the voltage controls you'll be able to adjust the CPU, and PCIE frequencies, or monitor fan speeds, temperatures, and voltages. All in all making the TriXX appear to be a decent overclocking tool.
While the Sapphire board may have came with a nice overclocking utility, ASUS blew it out of the water with what the company equipped its motherboards with. I'm of course talking about the AISuite II. This extremely powerful utility is pretty much everything rolled into one. It's got overclocking, monitoring, updating, history records, and pretty much everything else you could want! Both the ASUS SABERTOOTH and the P8P67 Deluxe share the same AISuite II utility, with the exception of the SABERTOOTH Thermal Radar, of course.
The ASUS Thermal Radar is first and foremost a temperature monitoring program, but it isn't just any temperature monitoring program. As opposed to just monitoring the CPU temperatures, or even the CPU temp and some of the other more important temperatures, it monitors everything. You'll have temps at hand for your CPU, motherboard, power phase, memory, VCCIO, PCIe slots, USB, VCCSA, and SATA controller. Along with the detailed temperature readouts, you'll also be able to monitor voltage, and fan speeds.
The rest of the ASUS AISuite II gives you a few options. You'll be able to choose from Tool, Monitor, Update, System Information, and Settings. We'll start with the "Tool" category. First up in the Tool section is the ASUS TurboV EVO, which is powered by the TPU. Here you'll be able to adjust the BCLK, CPU Voltage, and Memory Voltage. You'll also be able to adjust VCCSA, VCCIO, PLL, and PCH voltages under the advanced settings. After you've had your fun doing some "in Windows" overclocking you'll be able to head over to the DIGI+ VRM section. Here you'll be able to adjust Load Line Calibration, CPU Current Capability, and the DIGI+ VRM frequency. You'll also be able to set both the DIGI+ VRm Phase and Duty control. If you thought we were done with the Tool section, you were wrong. Next up we'll head on over to the Sensor Recorder, where you'll be able to actively monitor voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, CPU frequency, and CPU usage. You'll also be able to record changes in your system over a set duration. All of which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Overclocking is probably something you're at least semi interested in, after all, you are reading this review on OverclockersClub.com. With that being said, you'll find that on your overclocking escapades you'll occasionally need to update your BIOS. Yeah you could update your BIOS the old fashion way, or you could use the update tool in ASUS' AISuite II. The Update menu will allow you to update your BIOS from the web, download a BIOS update from the web, update the BIOS from a file, or save your BIOS to a file. You'll also be able to change the BIOS boot logo in multiple ways. This is an interesting feature, but one that doesn't have all that much use. However, I do like the inclusion of "easy" BIOS updaters, as they're much easier than updating the old fashion way.
This section should be pretty self explanatory. Here you'll be able to view information on your motherboard, BIOS, CPU, CACHE, and SPD.
Last, but not least, the settings category. Here you'll be able to enable/disable applications included in the AISuite II. You'll also be able to adjust the "Bar" settings, as well as customize the skin to your liking.
Now that we've seen the utilities, let's take a good hard look at the BIOS for each board!