ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ UEFI
Most new motherboards have eschewed the traditional BIOS and use the UEFI format instead. The ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ is no different, of course. But the ASRock UEFI houses a number of features that you may not have seen before and that provide a lot of interesting functionality. You can find all of the traditional functionality you are used to in the ASrock UEFI, including an overclocking section and specific configuration utilities for the chipset, CPU, IO, and storage. There is also a hardware monitoring section that gives you temperature and voltage readings and lets you control your chassis fans. The standard boot section is available in the UEFI, letting you choose boot devices and preferences such as boot from LAN. The boot section is also where you enable fast boot, if you are so inclined.
Fast Boot basically cuts out the post altogether, making it extremely difficult to get back into the UEFI. It also lets you enable ASRock Instant Boot, which, according to ASRock, can get your boot times down to 1.5 seconds using the appropriate hardware configuration and Windows 8. Using Windows 8 and an Intel SSD, Instant Boot gave me a cold boot time of about 6 seconds. Not shabby at all. We are getting closer and closer to that Instant On that is so important in the age of tablets/smartphones. The new UEFI features can mostly be found in the Tools section of the UEFI. One of them is ability to use a USB key to startup your computer and log directly into Windows without having to worry about entering your logon password. This feature makes it so you can still completely secure your computer without having to remember a huge and complex password. Simply plug in the USB key and start up the system. Keep the USB key with you and no-one else can logon to your system.
Next up is the System Browser. If you are like me, then at some point you’ve had to remember the model number of your motherboard, or type of RAM you are using and you’d rather not have to open up your machine to figure it out. The System Browser gives you an overview of your machine and connected hardware. The ASRock UEFI also includes the UEFI Tech Service, an Easy RAID Installer, and an Easy Driver Installer. The Tech Service lets you send a report ASRock support personnel from the UEFI if you are experiencing technical difficulties while setting up your system.
The Easy RAID Installer and Easy Driver Installer were probably designed specifically with me in mind. Me and anyone else who finds themselves downloading just the LAN driver from the internet on a separate machine and sticking it on a thumb-drive in order to install it on a new build, that is. Easy Driver Installer does just that. It installs the LAN driver on your OS, then connects to the Internet and downloads the rest of the drivers. Easy RAID Installer is similar, but lets you install a RAID driver from a USB so you can install Windows on a RAID with your normally present Floppy Disk.
Other UEFI features include the ability to Reboot to UEFI, the ASRock OMG (online management guard), and sound and visual effects that just might (but probably won’t) make you want to spend more time inside the UEFI. Reboot to UEFI is useful if you want to get into the UEFI but have fast boot enabled. It’s nearly impossible, since the post is pretty much disabled. That being said, reboot to UEFI can also be tedious, since it will force you to enter the UEFI every time you restart the system.