ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Professional Review

Author: Matt Lefebvre
Date: October 27, 2013
Product Name: ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Professional
Part Number: 90-MXGPF0-A0UAYZ
Warranty: 3 Years
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BIOS Rundown

Anyone familiar with ASRock’s previous UEFI Bios will instantly recognize the Fatal1ty Z87 Professional’s layout; using it will will be like slipping on a pair of your favourite shoes. Much like the software which accompanies this motherboard, this instant familiarity is due to the UEFI’s connection to ASRock’s more mainstream options, albeit with a few minor additions and a new skin. This is not a bad thing as this BIOS is both inviting and user-friendly for novices while still providing a good number of options geared towards seasoned over-clocking enthusiasts.

ASRock has been able to pull this delicate balancing act off by following the KISS principle and Keeping It Simple. While you can set which screen the BIOS should load to, no matter which page it is set to, you will be greeted with a simple and clean design. More importantly, all the various features have been grouped into intuitive ‘pages’ and there is no need to exit the ‘main’ BIOS and load an ‘advanced’ version to get access to additional options. All the various features are contained within the 8 main pages, everything is clearly labeled and almost every feature has a short blurb accompanying it.

To access these pages all you need do is click on one of the large and clearly labeled icons at the top of the screen. Some confusion may arise over where a certain function is located between the Advanced and OC Tweaker pages but that should be sorted out in short order. The Advanced page deals with the more mundane configuration of various hardware components such as Chipset, Storage, USB and the like while OC Tweaker is geared towards overclockers.

To help novices get a quick understanding of which page actually contains the features they are looking for, the Main page not only includes a basic overview of the system but also a nifty UEFI guide. When pressed, a short video presentation walks you through the underlying design philosophy of the BIOS and the basics on where to find most features.

The OC Tweaker page on the other hand deals with overclocking your CPU and RAM. Whether you intend to go for basic or moderate overclocking levels this is the page you will spend most of your time on. The sheer number of options available may be a touch daunting to novices, especially those not interested in the minutia of OC’ing and just want a quick and ‘painless’ overclocking experience.

To help novices the very first option at the top of this page contains the 5 pre-configured ‘Optimized CPU OC Settings’. Simply selecting one should – in theory – allow for quick and painless overclocking. These five options have been further broken down into ‘safe’ and not so safe levels and are color coded. In theory all you need do is select one of them, save your changes and reboot. The reality is a touch more nuanced and consumers will have varying levels of success with these not so ‘optimized’ options. It really will come down to your particular chip and how much voltage it requires to attain a given overclock.

More advanced users need to scroll down past this option to find most of the various settings they require. Everything is laid out in a simple, intuitive manner and the only sub-section is for advanced DRAM configuration which is a full page all unto itself. Memory over-clockers will love that every memory timing and setting imaginable is on tap, but novices may find the long list rather intimidating.

On the main OC Tweaker page, adjusting the various voltage, BLCK, BCLK Ratio, or CPU multiplier options is once again as simple as pressing a button and then carrying out one action. In some instances either a popup menu will appear with a slider for adjustment or a drop down list to choose from, but in most cases you can just type in the level you wish to use.

Moving on to the Advanced page, the layout is radically different than the OC Tweaker. Instead of a rather large – but sensibly grouped – list of options, it consists of nothing more than subpages which have to be individually selected before being able to see – let alone – adjust the various features. Luckily, they are all properly labeled and even novices will have very little difficulty in understanding what each subpage deals with. We were pleased to see that Intel Rapid Start configuration was split off from the storage configuration page and is thus easier to find and use.

The Chipset Configuration section is fairly standard with the usual chipset adjustment features laid out into intuitive groups. One additional feature is worth pointing out: Good Night LED. This option allows you to turn on and off the various LEDs to reduce nocturnal emanations from your system if it’s left on.

The CPU Configuration page contains detailed information about the CPU installed as well as settings for HyperThreading, active cores, thermal management and C-State settings.

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