MSI Z77A-GD65 - BIOS

MSI's graphical BIOS was the result of an internal design competition - given various intricacies and factors in the final designs, the one that came 3rd went on to be the graphical interface we see today.  Over the past few generations, I have been either critical of MSI with their P67 'BIOS games' (explained to me later as more of a technical showcase), or appreciative of their X79 revision.

The BIOS on Z77 is the same as the X79 version.  Despite making several suggestions regarding that BIOS, none seem to have come through, so if I may I would like to make them again.  Do not get me wrong, the BIOS is well designed and easy to use - it is just that it could perhaps be easier, especially for overclocking.

The front page is great - we have CPU and system temperatures, CPU model, and speed, memory speed, memory size, BIOS version, and a boot order at the top.  What is great about this is that the top bar (and side navigation tools) are persistent throughout the BIOS, never once disappearing.  This layout is great, and would be beneficial if we ever get an increase in BIOS resolution in the future so more information can be put into the center console.

One recommendation is an improvement of the PC Health screen, which should offer lists of voltages and such for different components.  Perhaps a few more temperature sensors on board and a better fan control would not go amiss in the future.

For overclocking, our gaze turns to the OC menu, which essentially lumps all the overclocking options together.  There are a couple of issues with this.

Ideally, it should be separated cleanly into CPU, memory, and others, with the CPU voltage in the CPU section and so on.  As it currently stands, everything is in one run on menu - if they reduced the font size a little and could do CPU options on the left, memory options on the right, this would be great.

You may notice the Enhanced Turbo feature in the BIOS.  This does similar things to ASUS' MultiCore Enhancement, in that the CPU is pushed to 3.9 GHz during full load, 200 MHz more than what it should be.  By default, MSI has this off (I criticized them about it on X79), so they naturally have a disadvantage in the benchmarks later on.  However, this is the right way to do it - having it enabled by default technically invalidates the warranty on the processor.

Load Line Calibration on MSI boards is hidden under VDroop Control, and other options such as Digital Compensation Level, CPU Core OCP Expander and CPU Core Engine Speed are not properly defined for users.  Overall, I really like MSI's BIOS and it has a much nicer feel to it than many of their competitors.

Software

The main gamut of MSI's software comes in three programs - Control Center, Live Update, and Click BIOS.

Control Center: At the heart of the operation is Control Center.  This piece of software allows for OS adjustments for voltages and fans as well as enabling/disabling the LEDs on the motherboard.

Live Update 5: Best compatibility and the most features usually come from the latest versions of software - so MSI include their Live Update program with their motherboards.  This probes the system for software versions (and BIOS versions) then communicates to an online server to suggest updates and new downloads.  This is good, with one flaw - when you download new drivers, it does not tell you how big they are.  So if you end up having to download 130 MB of new audio drivers on a slow connection, the user will not know until it chugs along at 5% a minute.  It is a minor update I hope to see in a later revision.

Click BIOS II:The main software that MSI likes to push is Click BIOS - an operating system based interface for all BIOS modifications.  It is designed to look and feel like the actual BIOS, with all the settings.  For the most part, this is true - it does initially look like the BIOS, though there are still issues with fonts.  With it being an OS utility, they also miss a beat in providing additional tools for settings, such as graphs to manipulate the fan headers.

MSI Z77A-GD65 - Overview, Visual Inspection and Board Features MSI Z77A-GD65 - In The Box, Overclocking
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  • SnowKing - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I think you are confusing bits per second vs. bytes per second. Do not be alarmed, that is the gimmick of Ethernet.

    10 mbps (megabits per second) = 1.25 MBps (megabytes per second)
    100 mbps (megabits per second) = 12.5 MBps (megabytes per second)
    1 gbps (gigabits per second) = 125 MBps (megabytes per second)

    If you want 1 GBps, you will need an 8 gbps connector i.e. (10gbps nic)...and good luck with that.

    Unit Converter
    http://www.numion.com/calculators/units.html
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    theSeb's (and originally adrien's) point here is that the chart for LAN speeds erroneously list MBps instead of Mbps. Reply
  • HollyDOL - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    Transfer speed is always measured in bps (bits per second).
    Latin prefixes for kilo-Mega-Giga etc. signify 10^3,10^6 etc. bits

    Capacity volume is always measured in B (bytes).
    Latin prefixes for kilo-Mega-Giga etc. signify 2^10, 2^20 etc. Bytes (ie. 1kB = 1024 Bytes) according to old school rules.
    According to new customs kilo-Mega-Giga signify 10^3,10^6 etc. Bytes, prefixes kB, MB, GB, while alternate prefixes kiB,MiB,GiB signify 2^10,2^20... Bytes. Data storage capacity uses new style kB,MB,GB,TB for long years since it makes their drives look bigger, while on hardware and OS level you are much more likely to see units based on power of two since it is much more natural for binary computer.

    Basically 10Mbps = 1.25MB/s is completely wrong... 10Mbps = 10,000,000bps = 1,250,000 B/s = 1.192 MB/s

    1TB (new style or storage device manufacturers) = 931,32GiB
    Reply
  • Schafdog - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    What is draw of power from GPUs? Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    The 7970s should Idle at approx 3W or less each. Reply
  • gorg_graggel - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    the current asus lineup seems to have problems with memory configs that consist of 8GB dimms...
    their list of supported memory modules seems to be made for multiple boards...it contains configurations for e.g. 6x4gb for boards that have only 4 slots...so i guess it`s not only a problem with my board...

    i got myself a sabertooth z77 and a pair of corsair 1600mhz 8gb dimms. no matter how conservative i set the timings the board won`t boot at 1600mhz and freeze after some time at 1333mhz (spd or xmp don`t work either). i can only get them stable at 1066mhz. a single dimm runs fine at the specified clocks and timings.

    could you spare some time and test the boards with a 1600mhz config with 2 8gb dimms? or even with 4 of those? no underclocking of higher specced dimms, as there is a 2x8gb@1866mhz config in the list...
    would be interesting to know if all those boards had problems with ivy brigde`s max specified dram clocks...

    i guess it will be fixed in a future bios update, but maybe beeing pointed out by a respected site, they are gonna hurry it up a bit...i mean c`mon 1600mhz rams at 1066mhz? seriously...
    Reply
  • gorg_graggel - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    so, i got myself another pair of 8gb dimms...
    g.skill ripjaws 1600mhz, cl10...

    those worked from the get go...also not on ovl list...

    the latest bios (1015) made the corsair dimms work better @1333mhz (no more freezing), but still no 1600 (for which they are specified)...

    so if you plan to get 8gb 1600mhz dimms for your asus board, steer clear from corsair vengeance low profile dimms...at least until the bios has matured some more...
    Reply
  • Luay - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    The $225 Asus V Pro has the Realtek ALC892 audio chipset while the $148 Asrock Extreme4 has the 898! Not everyone wants or can install a sound card so what are they thinking?

    GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB Has wireless, 898 audio chip and a third PCI-E 3.0 slot for $219. That's a good reason to pay an extra $70 over the Asrock Extreme4 as I don't really care about auto-over-clocking.

    Only Asrock at budget and Gigabyte at mid-end are in it to win it. Not enough high-end boards to tell who won there.

    I am shocked by what Asus put on the table but I might be missing something here.
    Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Gigabyte's third PCI-E 3.0 slot cannot work if CPU BCLK OC only 1MHz to 101MHz. It is buggy M/B. Don't buy it. Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I mean GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB . GA-Z77X-UD3H is Ok for 3rd PCI-E 2.0. Reply

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