When motherboard manufacturers started moving away from the old AWARD BIOSes and switched to graphically lovely UEFIs, it was a revelation, but it took a while for most of them to feel as smooth as they looked. Even though you could use both the mouse and keyboard to adjust settings, for example, performance was often frustratingly laggy and glitchy.
Most motherboard companies are producing very fine UEFIs these days, however, and both ASRock and MSI have nailed it. Both felt snappy and responsive and were relatively easy to navigate, so kudos to the two companies for that.
We’ve looked at ASRock’s excellent UEFI before when we tested its Fatal1ty Z77
Professional board, and it’s worth noting that the company went to the trouble of creating a separate (though mostly similar) UEFI environment for the Z77 OC Formula. Unlike the former’s coolly subdued red and black look, the latter has a star system-looking background and more elaborate icons for the various tabs. With the Z77 OC Formula, ASRock also ditched the option to bring up a 3D image of the motherboard, which really isn’t going to be of much use for an overclocker, anyway.
The organization is straightforward: the Main area gives you basic, at-a-glance system information; OC Tweaker is the playground where you adjust all your overclock settings; Advanced is the section is which you can set parameters and options for the North Bridge, South Bridge, storage, I/O, and other aspects of the system; under Tools, you can update the BIOS; the H/W Monitor area gives you a boatload of information about temps, voltages, fan speeds, and so on; there are copious items to play with under Boot; the Security area lets you set passwords and set state modes; and Exit is--well, that’s self-explanatory.
There’s even a QR code in there that you can scan to get more details. Perhaps that’s a bit over the top, but it’s still pretty cool.
MSI’s Click BIOS II is pretty much what we’ve seen in the company’s other Z77 offerings. Instead of keeping everything neatly organized under a handful of tabs, much of what you’ll want to adjust is sort of out there on the main screen, including temps, basic information such as the BIOS version and components list, and a graphical boot priority menu.
It’s laid out with six huge buttons (three per side) and the corresponding menu items appear in the middle of the screen when a button is clicked. It’s perhaps a bit of a distracting layout, but as a result there isn’t much you need to hunt for in the six sections since so much is there on the main screen.
Under Settings, there’s system status information, an Advanced area for further system configuration, boot settings, and the exit menu; you can dive deep into overclock settings under the OC area; Eco mode gives you handful of power-saving parameters to play with; the Utilities area lets you set backups and update the system and BIOS; and you can create passwords and chassis intrusion settings under Security. The Browser area lets you access the Internet and handy tools such as email right from the BIOS.
There are also three modes of operation you can easily toggle between: Eco, Standard, and OC Genie II. Using Eco mode helps reduce your energy consumption, and the OC Genie II mode lets you easily switch over to overclock settings you can set in the BIOS and forget. In other words, it lets you leave your standard settings alone and just fire up your optimal OC settings whenever it’s convenient. All told, we really liked MSI's UEFI implementation here.
And now, on to our benchmark testing to see how these puppies perform.