Asus EFI BIOS
Please note this post is based off of the new Asus P67 socket 1155 based Sandy Bridge CPU’s.
Every once in a while a computer manufacturer will bring something entirely new to us computer users. Lately we have been seeing a lot of newer technologies come out like, SATA 6BG/s SSDs/HDDs, USB 3 capabilities, newer CPUs, etc. etc.. Even though computer motherboard manufacturers have been giving us newer capabilities on their motherboards, these motherboard companies still used the everyday standard basic and boring BIOS (Basic Input Output System) for us computer users to interact with that companies motherboard. I will have to say this about the basic BIOS interfacing, that no matter what motherboard manufacturer we used for our computers, it had a similar basic BIOS layout that became extremely familiar with us computer users; until now.
Unlike the older basic BIOS, we users could not use a mouse to navigate through the BIOS itself. We were stuck with only using the keyboard. The Newer EFI BIOS (Extensible Firmware Interface Basic Input Output System) completely changed the way we computer users interacted with our motherboards. No longer are we stuck with just the keyboard to navigate through the BIOS, we now can use a mouse for our navigation. Anther unique little trick we can do is we can take actual screen shots of our EFI BIOS settings with out the need of setting up a camera. All we need is a USB FLASH drive plugged into an available USB port, be inside the EFI BIOS, press the F12 button, and it will take a screenshot of that screen we are currently on, then save that image to your plugged in USB Flash drive for you to share with others.
When we first start our computers for the first time after we have installed one of the new motherboards from Asus, we will be greeted with the EFI BIOS EZ configuration. This has a pretty simple layout for just about anyone to use. We are given the absolute basics of adjustments and monitoring of our motherboards. We can easily monitor our temperatures (CPU and motherboard), our Voltages from the PSU (Power Supply Unit), also we can monitor our fan speeds that we have hooked up to the motherboard itself. Then, for those who get overwhelmed by the BIOS, or not quite comfortable using it just yet, but still want to have an “Overclocked System” ,you can easily click on one of the three middle buttons of the Asus EFI BIOS and it will configure itself for a simple but effective overclock for you. The very bottom portion of the EZ EFI BIOS interface, is where you can configure the boot order of your devices (HDDs, CD/DVD ROMS Drives etc. etc.) simply by clicking on that item and hold that click then drag it right or left for the boot order. The Boot menu (F8) is for those of you who want to just bypass the boot sequencing on the motherboard for that time only.
For those of us who actually feel comfortable inside of the more advanced EFI BIOS settings all we need to do is click on the Exit button, and scroll to the Advanced mode.
Advanced EFI BIOS
Please feel free to look at each one of these EFI BIOS screen shots to get your self familiar on how Asus designed their version of this BIOS type.
For most of us overclockers, this is the meat and potatoes of the motherboard. This is where we can make all kinds of different adjustments, pertaining to our motherboard. As we can see the new EFI BIOS is fairly easy to navigate through. Like the EZ portion of the EFI BIOS, we can use the mouse to navigate through the BIOS, or we can use the keyboard, or both. I particularly like the overall layout of the EFI BIOS myself, I found it pleasing to look at, and extremely easy for me to make my fine tuning motherboard adjustments.
To navigate through the Asus EFI BIOS, we have several different options we can do to make our adjustments. One of the ways we can navigate through the EFI BIOS, for some of those hard core computer users (power users), we can stick with our keyboard arrows, numbers, and enter keys to navigate through this type of BIOS. Another way we can navigate through the Asus EFI BIOS, is by our mouse we can either use the mouse wheel to scroll through each pages of options, or we can click our way through the EFI BIOS. Unfortunately, you cannot move from one page to the next with just the mouse wheel, you will have to use either the arrow keys on the motherboard, or physically click (with the mouse) on each individual page. For us to make an adjustment in the EFI BIOS, just highlight that specific setting you want to change, then with either the keyboard +/- keys scroll through the available options for that specific setting, you can press the enter button on the keyboard to bring up the list of options for that setting, or you can click on the highlighted setting to bring up the available options and then click on the option you want to use. I know it seems confusing the way I am putting it, but really it is not. Now unfortunately, I will have to mention that if you do plan on overclocking, or fine tuning your memory CPU settings, you will have to use the keyboard and the mouse becomes useless for these adjustments. But again it is not hard to make these type of adjustments, similar to the basic BIOS we used in the past, we can use the +/- keys to scroll through the available options, or just type in a specific number we want to use.
AI Suite II
AI Suite II brings to us overclockers a completely newer way of being able to make motherboard adjustments while we are in Windows. Unlike other software overclocking tools that are out there today, AI Suite II does not require us overclockers/computer users the need to reboot our computers every time we make an adjustment pertaining to our motherboard.
This is what the new Asus AI Suite II looks like opened up on our desktop. It is pretty easy for us to navigate through the menus, and find out where the specific settings are hidden inside of the AI Suite II. Now AI Suite II does have an easy overclocking utility built into the software, for anyone who is either new to overclocking, or if you just do not want to fiddle around inside of the EFI BIOS itself. In order for AI Suite II to work, you will need to do install it, and then start up the AI Suite II program (it will be located on your taskbar icons to the bottom right hand of your screen), then locate the Auto Tune button and click on it and wait a few minutes for this program to overclock your CPU. Now I will have to say this again, the Asus AI Suite II program, does not require us to reboot our computer once a setting is made, we just make an adjustment, then go on with our daily computing needs.
For us “Power Users”, we can use the AI Suite II to fine tune our computer while we are in windows. One of the biggest set backs to overclocking is we are constantly having to reboot our computer, enter BIOS, locate that specific setting we want to change, change that setting, save and exit BIOS,and hope (Pray) that it holds true. Well since AI Suite II does not require us to reboot the computer every time we make an adjustment, we “Power Users” can make adjustments on the fly, and check to see if that setting will hold true and never leave our desktop. We can adjust the CPU’s Turbo multiplier, up the BCLK (in 0.1 increments), adjust voltages, tweak the Digi+VRM frequencies, tweak the Digi+VRM output voltages, to finally being able to adjust how we want the Digi+VRM to be monitored (ie either by temperature (default), or by actual output current). The only thing I cannot see in the Asus AI Suite II is memory timing adjustments, but we got everything else.
What exactly is DIGI+VRM? Also what is TPU/EPU? We can’t look at one with discussing the other, as all 3 of these capabilities tie into one another. The DIGI+VRM (VRM=Voltage Regulation Module) gives the motherboard a capability of being able to properly load balance the current that our CPU’s require to properly operate. As we use our computers, we do not always use the full capabilities of the CPU all the time. When we are typing a letter, surfing the internet, watching our favorite movies on our DVD/Blue ray player, the CPU does not need to be running at full tilt. So Intel put in a convenient capability into the Chipset/CPU to shut off cores, down clock itself, or both to conserve power usage during these times of light computer duty. Now once we start up a heavy CPU intensive program (gaming, video editing etc.) on our computer the CPU starts demanding more power so it can run at its optimal performance. As we move from a single core (thread) usage to a dual core (thread) all the ay up to a quad core (or a full 8 threaded) application requirements, we need to have our CPU phased power distribution to react quickly enough and intelligently as we move from a light CPU application to a heavy CPU application, also back again, and everything in between. This is where the DIGI+VRM comes into play, as we move up and down the CPU requirements of our computer this feature will intelligently adjust the amount of CPU phased power that the CPU requires at that time. As I mentioned earlier we do not always need the full use of our CPU’s all the time. We also do not need to use the entire phased power distribution when we only are using a couple of CPU cores for a specific application task. Another great capability of the DIGI+VRM is that as we are using our computers, and we are starting to heat up a few of our CPU phased power VRMs, the DIGI+VRM will start spreading the load across multiple phases to ensure that we don’t fry the VRMs; therefore, rendering the motherboard useless, or even worse torching our CPUs in the process.
In the past I have normally turned off any energy saving portion of the CPU/BIOS/Windows. Mainly because in the past I had nothing but issues regarding these types of power saving features. If I did enable them, and since I like to seriously overclock my computer, my computer would normally crash my applications, lock up, not fully load Windows when restarting the computer, hesitate, or studder constantly. Basically my computer was constantly running at full tilt, balls to the walls, whether I was browsing the internet, or playing a game; which, is not very energy efficient. It did not matter what type of CPU/motherboard I used in the past, from my Socket 1366 Core i7 970, to my Socket 1156 Core i5 750 CPU I was plagued with this problem. After playing on this motherboard, the Asus P67 based motherboards paired off with my Core i7 2600K CPU, I can actually use all of the power saving features of the motherboard/CPU and not have any issues, while being seriously overclocked at the same time.
This switch initializes an under volt mechanism which will supply less voltage to the CPU helping to extending the lifespan and produce slightly lower temperatures. This is recommended for stock operation. (the voltage reduction is approx 30 to 70mv ). This translates to about 5 to 10 watts power savings.
Basically by turning on this little switch will help reduce the overall power requirements that our computer uses. By dropping the CPU voltage down a couple of notches, also this switch helps reduce other motherboard components voltages down as well like the PCI-E/PCI/PCH/PCI. Now it does not drop the overall voltage that much to effect stability with our computer, it will reduce our carbon footprint a little bit more. Every little bit helps. Please note: this switch is meant for those who are running these motherboards stock/default speeds, not for when you are overclocked.
This switch initializes a quick OC. This is focused at first time builders or builders with no OC knowledge. All the user needs to do is flip the switch and it will overclock the CPU. A 2500K will approx reach 4.3GHz and a 2600K will approx reach 4.4GHz. This OC is designed to be used with the stock cooler or aftermarket heastinks. In addition it maintains using offset voltage option for voltage delivery ensuring an efficient way of supplying voltage under an overclock configuration.
This little switch is more geared for those who do not know how to overclock their computers, or those who just want to get their overclocking done quick fast and in a hurry; with out having to fumble around the EFI BIOS. We just flip this switch on and poof instant overclock. Pretty simple, I did not use this switch during my testing this motherboard as I felt the “Oc Tuning” that is located in the EFI BIOS would give me similar results as the TPU switch. Asus just ensures that all different types of users can overclock their motherboards quickly and easily without needing to know all there is to know about computers.