|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 UEFI: AI Tweaker
The most interesting section in the Advanced Mode of the P8Z77-I UEFI BIOS is the AI Tweaker. It's similar to what we've seen in previous ASUS motherboards, and its presence here reinforces the fact that ASUS sees this as an enthusiast level board rather than something to simply be stuffed into an HTPC box and forgotten about. AI Tweaker offers very detailed control of clock speeds, timings, and voltages. This is the screen most overclockers will start with. Here you can control the turbo ratio, which is the main overclocking mechanism for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. You can select different ratios depending on the number of cores in use, or force all cores to run at the same ratio. ASUS Multicore Enhancement will, when enabled, force all cores to run at the maximum boost speed under load, rather than ramping up more gradually.
Of course, simply cranking clock speeds and voltages won't guarantee a stable overclock, so ASUS gives you the ability to adjust a number of power supply parameters. Scrolling down the settings in the main AI Tweaker screen, we come to the power controls. This is where some of the real magic occurs, especially in the CPU Power Management and DIGI+ VRM sections.
Generally speaking, cranking these settings up trades off power efficiency for performance. Some settings, like CPU Current Capability, really let you push the boundaries of what's safe. It's fairly hard to smoke a modern CPU just with overclocking, as built-in thermal limits will drop (throttle) the clock speed or even shut down the CPU entirely if necessary. But pushing the current capability, while it doesn't change anything in and of itself, disables some of the protections Intel builds into its CPUs and lets you run more power through it than you'd normally be able to do, so tread carefully.
Serious overclockers will want to adjust memory timings as well, and ASUS gives you more ways to do this than most of us will ever use, or even understand.
This is only a sample of the screens and capabilities built into this BIOS; there's a lot more than what you see here. Having all these capabilities in the BIOS is especially useful if you're using a non-Windows OS like Linux or Mac OS X since changes here apply regardless of the OS you're using. However, if you are using Windows, there's even more control available through ASUS' suite of utility software, which I'll cover in the next section.