ASUS Z97 UEFI BIOS
ASUS continues to improve their UEFI BIOS, even as their other features (switches on the motherboard and elaborate Windows-based utilities) reduce the need for all but the most technicallly-inclined users to actually go into it. Most of the Z97-DELUXE BIOS features and capabilities are the same as those introduced with ASUS’ Z87 boards, and you can read an in-depth review of this BIOS in our Z87-Deluxe/Dual LGA1150 motherboard review here. Refining what is arguably the best UEFI BIOS out there, ASUS adds new features such as graphical fan tuning. One nice capability: ASUS’ fan control now works with both 4-pin PWM and standard 3-pin fans, automatically detecting each fan type and using voltage to control the RPM of 4-pin fans and pulse-width modulation to control the RPM of four-pin fans.
You can auto-tune your system from the BIOS, too. An EZ Tuning Wizard asks some questions about your intended system usage…
…as well as the type of cooling system you have, among other things:
It will tell you what it thinks it can do before you commit to it:
ASUS has completely reworked the EZ Mode screen, the first screen shown when you enter the BIOS (sadly ASUS appears to have removed the ability to go directly to the Advanced BIOS screens). There’s a lot of information and controls on this screen, including CPU information, CPU temperature and voltage, memory specifications, the status and speed of connected fans, boot device order, and more. You can start system tuning the aforementioned EZ System Tuning control, and even set up a RAID array. One apparent problem in this early BIOS: sometimes the SATA information listed on this screen will show “N/A” for all devices, even though there are SATA devices connected and the system boots perfectly.
The enthusiast will want to immediately dive into the Advanced section of the BIOS, invoked by pressing the F7 key. The main sections available– My Favorites, Main, AI Tweaker, Advanced, Monitor, Boot, Tool, and Exit– are the same as those we originally saw in ASUS’ Z87 motherboard BIOSes. The color scheme has been updated and a few things moved around, but the only completely new feature I see is the Quick Note capability, invoked by pressing F9. This gives you a small, 9-line note pad for (short) notes you may want to keep and refer to later. The amount of information you can keep is very limited, but it’s useful nonetheless.
The section where you can adjust fun things is, of course, the AI Tweaker section. Here, ASUS has expanded the explanatory text that appears at the bottom of the screen as various options are selected. For example, if you’re changing the multiplier used when three cores are loaded, the bottom of the screen will note “Configure the 3-core ratio limit that must be higher than or equal to the 4-core ratio limit. The 1-core and 2-core ratio limit must not be set to Auto.” The text is not always this helpful, especially on more obscure parameters, but is still nice to have.
Of course, ASUS provides more tools than a fancy BIOS. Let’s take a quick look at the current version of the AI Suite Windows-based utility in the next section.