|MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Saturday, 07 April 2012|
Page 5 of 18
MSI ClickBIOS II and Control Center
The adoption of graphical UEFI BIOSes has been a welcome upgrade from the primitive character-based BIOSes we've lived with for decades. MSI's version is called "ClickBIOS II", and its main improvement over the version used on MSI's Z68 board is that it now supports 15 languages.
The ClickBIOS II is quite different from the original ClickBIOS that MSI included with their Z68 boards; in fact, it looks almost exactly like the more advanced version on MSI's 990FXA-GD80 motherboard. At the top we see the time, date, and BIOS version, with CPU information to the right and a nice Boot Device Priority selection bar just below it. The bottom two-thirds of the screen show six main "buttons' (three on each side), with a central area that displays information and settings relevant to the selected button.
I find MSI's BIOS to be a little clumsier to get around than other graphical UEFI BIOSes I've used. Some of it's the layout (although technically selecting to use XMP memory profiles could be considered "overclocking", I'd still prefer this item be in the main settings area rather than the overclocking settings). Some of it's the color choices: as shown below, many of MSI's information screens use a white-type-on-light-gray-background color scheme, which isn't exactly optimum for readability.
While the original ClickBIOS would warn you when you tried to set certain voltages too high, ClickBIOS II does not, a fault it shares with the version on the MSI 990FX motherboard. Look at this pick list for setting CPU voltage:
At least it doesn't read out to the millionth of a volt the way the 990FX version does! But Intel says the maximum CPU core voltage for the i5-2500K I used in this review is 1.5 volts. I can set over 2.0 volts in this BIOS, with no indication that the likely result would be an instantly fried processor. Some other vendors color-code voltages based on the CPU you're using, so you know that a voltage in yellow is potentially dangerous and a voltage in red is very bad.
Still, there are some nice features. The ones I like best are related to MSI's "OC Genie II" feature. In previous MSI motherboards, OC Genie merely applied a single automatic overclock. It was fast and guaranteed to work, but experienced users could always get more with manual overclocking. Now, you can save up to six overclocking profiles in CMOS as well as save and load them from a USB key.
But that's not all: there's a separate profile that takes effect when you press the "OC Genie II" button. Called "My OC Genie", this feature allows you to tweak any of the settings shown below, and they'll take effect the next time you boot if the OC Genie button is down.
Only one thing would make this more convenient: being able to designate one of the existing overclocking profiles as the OC Genie profile. As it is, the OC Genie profile is the one that you can't save to or read from a USB key. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way short of clearing CMOS to easily reset your system to its default values.
MSI also provides a Windows version of ClickBIOS II which replicates most of the UEFI interface in Windows. However, any changes you make in the Windows version require rebooting your system to apply, so it's not obvious why you'd ever want to use it in preference to the "native" version. A more interesting utility is Control Center:
Control Center provides all the adjustments you'd normally do in the BIOS, but lets you change them live, from within Windows. You have very detailed control, as shown in this "Advanced" panel from the CPU clock setting section:
A nice feature is the real-time temperature readout, which lets you judge just how close to the edge you're pushing things. And unlike either the native or Windows version of ClickBIOS II, Control Center clearly flags potentially dangerous settings, as shown in this CPU voltage selection pick list.
For this reason alone I'd suggest doing your overclocking from within Control Center. It's also more convenient and you don't have to reboot the system between changes. Once you find settings you like, you can boot into the native UEFI BIOS to save them or export them to a USB key.
Now we move onto the testing...