|ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD mini-ITX Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2012|
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P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD UEFI
The P8Z77-I Deluxe/WD comes with the latest version of ASUS' UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS. UEFI has freed motherboard vendors to provide much more graphically rich and capable BIOSes, and ASUS' is one of the better ones out there. The BIOS defaults to "EZ Mode", which gathers most of the important items you'd want to see or alter in a single interface as shown below.
Most Benchmark Reviews readers, of course, will want to switch to "Advanced Mode" (and you can configure this as the default if you wish). In Advanced Mode, you click on one of a series of tabs across the top of the screen to select the area you're interested in. This shot shows the Onboard Devices Configuration screen.
The SATA Configuration subscreen is where you'd set IDE or AHCI mode, enable or disable S.M.A.R.T., and turn on hot pluggability. You can also see which devices are plugged into which SATA port.
You kids these days, you don't know how good you've got it. When I was your age, you had to create and boot from a specially configured floppy to update your BIOS, and if you screwed it up, you turned your motherboard into an expensive place mat. Now it's easily done from a USB key inside the BIOS as shown below, and even if you totally screw it up, ASUS' USB BIOS Flashback feature can flash a good BIOS onto a munged BIOS chip even if the motherboard has no processor or memory installed. By the way, you can see in this shot that ASUS has switched to using the ".CAP" format for their BIOS updates. According to ASUS, this is a more advanced and secure format that allows some optimizations (such as choosing not to initialize onboard controllers as opposed to disabling them) that can improve POST and boot times.
The Monitor tab collects voltage and temperature information on the components of your system. This is also where you can set the way the fans work, although with only two fan headers on the motherboard, there's not a lot going on here. Just turn on Q-Fan control and be done with it. You can make more detailed fan settings using AI Suite II from within Windows.
There are quite a few sections in this BIOS-- modern UEFI systems allow for much more than was possible with the old BIOS system-- but a quick press of F3 invokes a popup you can use to jump directly to a specific place:
ASUS philosophy is to give you every setting in the UEFI, but more elaborate control from within their Windows utilities. It's good to have this stuff in the UEFI since changes made here will work with any OS. For example, take the EPU setting shown below. This applies simple undervolts to the CPU when possible, reducing power without affecting performance. However, this is distinct from the EPU settings in AI Suite in Windows, which offers more options.
Let's take a look at the AI Tweaker part of the UEFI BIOS in the next section.