UEFI and Software
When I found out that along with the Z87 launch Asus was going to introduce a new version of their software I was very excited, I have been a very big fan of AISuite II for a long time and I was excited to see what they would change. Typically when we cover new software like Asus’s new AISuite III we would include a full video walk through so you can get a feel for it. Due to issues with fraps I was unable to get the video that wanted so I have resorted to a few photos, hopefully you don’t mind.
When you boot up AISuite III you first land on the 4-Way Optimization pay, here they have a few of the settings from each page showing but the main focus here is tuning your PC for high performance or power savings. This is where Asus does their auto overclocking, something I will cover a little more in our overclocking section. Along the bottom of this screen and most of the others we have a few small sections that show clock speed, voltage, temperature, and fan speeds. These help you keep an eye on what your PC is doing, even as you make adjustments in the software. In case you didn’t catch it, the 4-way optimization stands for DIGI+ Power, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2, the tools that Asus uses in order to be able to get the best possible overclock.
Up top we can click on a few different “tabs”, the next one being TPU and along with that there are sometimes various tabs under the main tab. Here we have a page that allows up to adjust and change our BCLK and ratio’s on a individual core or group level. Along with that you have CPU Core and CPU Cache voltage adjustments available. Each has adaptive and manual options to help you depending on your level of knowledge. Interesting to note, you can now manually type in your voltages as well as using sliders. Along with that Asus now has a four color system that will better show safe and aggressive voltage levels to help keep you from burning something up.
The next tab is the EPU, if you remember from in our board breakdown I spoke about how the EPU switch can adjust your power usage down. Asus had gone above and beyond the single switch here. You can adjust the voltage settings, fan profiles, and even when your monitor turns off as well as your pc’s sleep mode all on this tab. There are a few sub tabs that let you adjust the settings depended on the setting that you can adjust on the “home” page of the software for high performance, max power, and away. I really like that they included the fan profiles on this, I know for me I might be interested in having a more aggressive fan profile on the max performance tab when I might be overclocking and or gaming but when I am away from the computer it would be nice if the fans quieted down.
The next tab is the DIGI+ Power Control tab, where we have complete control over how all of the boards CPU and DRAM power. Asus has been improving their power control for a long time and even now with some of the power control moving on to the CPU they let us adjust that as needed. To help Asus has also included easy to read explanations with graphs that adjust to show you what is happening as you change your settings over on the right side. Along with that, even just on the CPU tab there are two pages of settings available meaning if you want you can fine tune your power settings to perfectly fit what you plan on using your pc for.
The last tab is the Fan Expert 2 tab where we can adjust how our PC’s control all of the fans that you have hooked up to any of the PWM fan headers (both boards have every single fan connection as a four pin PWM fan header btw). The top section of this page lets us flip through all of the motherboard fan headers; you will notice that there is case with a question mark on most of mine. Once you select a fan you can actually tell it where the fan is in your case and rename it to make flipping through these easier. Below the fan selection we have silent, standard, turbo, and full speed options. These will automatically adjust your fans to keep them quiet, or to keep your temperatures down depending on the setting you select. (Asus also pointed out to us that you can actually control the fan speed on both PWM fans and 3 pin fans just the same using Fan Expert 2)
Back on the individual fan pages we can also go through and adjust the fan profile. This means you can tell it how fast the fan should be depending on the temperature on a sensor of your choice. You can design your fan profile to be quiet and slowly ramp up as temperatures warm up or to be more aggressive.
Up in the top right corner is a menu of sorts, here you can get to a few of the other features that have always made Asus’s software great. For example here we can change our USB Charger settings for boosting USB charging of your mobile devices (iOS, Windows, Android, and eReaders). This is also where you will find USB 3.0 Boost, something I will talk a little about in the USB 3.0/SATA section of this review.
Unlike the software I was able to get footage of the UEFI on both the Z87-Pro and the Z87-Plus so I will let the video do a little more of the talking. Both UEFI’s are basically the same give or take. When you boot into the UEFI you are taken to the EZ Mode page where you can slide hard drives around to adjust your boot order and you can adjust system performance via a three option menu. Here, unlike on past models, you can also set your DRAM to an XMP profile and also adjust fan profiles as well. I should point out that on both boards we did experience low CPU fan warnings with our Noctua cooler, we saw this back on the X79 platform as well and to fix this you can just turn off Qfan or adjust the warning down below the Noctua’s lowest speed.
When you go to the advanced settings menu you get a UEFI that is more like a traditional BIOS but Asus has tuned this a little from previous models to be more mouse friendly. I will let the videos speak for the options available but I do want to point out that on the right side of the page when you mouse over options Asus has tried to explain most of them to help people learn more about what they are changing. I found the whole experience overall to be very smooth when using the mouse, sometimes mouse use in a UEFI can feel weird but both boards had a very fluid mouse motion and no issues at all.
Beyond the videos there were two things I wanted to point out about the UEFI on both boards though. First the EZ Flash 2 Utility was great to work with. All I had to do was put my bios file on a flash drive or on any hard drive on your pc and jump into this option in the UEFI. Downloading and updating your UEFI can’t get much easier really.
Asus also implemented a change log for when you go to save and exit the UEFI. This is one of those options that once you see it you wonder why we haven’t seen this earlier. This is great to be able to look and double check to make sure you didn’t mistakenly adjust something you didn’t want to.