BIOS is an acronym that stands for Basic Input/Output System. It is meant to control your product at a very low level. As of right now there are three regularly used BIOS formats (there are actually more than that but there are three common ones). These are the AMI (American Megatrends Incorporated), Award, and Phoenix. Of course with the introduction of the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) we now have a solid basis for the “BIOS” on new motherboards. This actually gets away from the term BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) and becomes more of a software interface. Each manufacturer will have their own take on how to implement this; some good, some not so good. The modern BIOS is not like the old ones that were around when I first got into computers. Most of them were there simply to let you set the date and time and perhaps a few other items about the computer. Now the BIOS is like a mini OS that allows you to control a large number of things. There is so much you can do in today’s BIOSes that you just can’t write about them properly. Instead you can check out the video we have for you of the UEFI BIOS on the Z97-A.
Overclocking is one of the fun parts of testing motherboards and CPUs (well really almost every component…). As Intel has developed their CPUs and Chipsets overclocking has become easier to accomplish for even a novice. CPUs and motherboards are designed with considerable headroom to allow for extra voltage and to handle the increase in speed. Asus has been making some excellent progress in providing overclocking performance. They have worked hard to build their boards with the right components and trace layouts. This means that there is less potential for performance loss at high speeds due to signal issues.
The Z97-A can certainly push a CPU. We hit 4.9GHz on our 4770K without any issues. We are very sure that with more time and tweaking we could have gotten to 5GHz and beyond. It was a very impressive experience.
Of course overclocking is a picky subject. I can buy to identical CPUs from the store and they will not always perform the same way under stress. This is the same with motherboards, RAM and GPUs. So again it is important to keep in mind that our results represent a specific hardware configuration. Yours may be similar but will rarely be identical.
Overclocking Tools –
Asus’ AISuite has evolved over time to become a very full featured offering. It is designed to give you a single interface for multiple applications and thanks to some fairly good coding the integration of these applications appear seamless to all but the most critical observer. Instead of trying to write about all of the details we walk you through AISuite 3 as it pertains to the Z97-A below.
The suite was not as complete as what we saw on the Z97I-Plus, but it has more than enough to keep you going.