iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Motherboard

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Speaking about BIOS, we should say a few words about a new but familiar technology — UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). The EFI itself isn't that new, it's just that we've been waiting for it to be implemented in actual products for several years. Motherboard makers (MSI and ASUS in particular) actually released both EFI BIOSes for regular boards and even special boards initially tailored for EFI BIOS. But motherboards for exactly this Intel platform should start (according to manufacturers) a massive EFI expansion, eventually making such boards the most widespread. They even say that old 16-bit BIOSes will have left the market by the end of the year.

We'll discuss EFI-related topics in more detail in a dedicated roundup. As for now, we'll just provide some practical information related to the P8P67 Deluxe. We apologize for not providing our own pictures of EFI BIOS of the P8P67 Deluxe, we just hadn't enough time. We'll try to correct that in the next review. Anyway, from a regular viewer's angle, an EFI BIOS should have a GUI, provide shorter loading times and be able to boot from drives with capacities of over 2.2TB.

Speaking of shorter loading times, we're not sure if it's true or not. Today's machines initialize devices and complete self-tests in a flash. Perhaps the only exception is onboard/auxillary drive controllers querying ports during boot. Anyway, of all P67-based motherboards we had seen, a solution from ECS seemed to be the fastest and it didn't have an EFI BIOS. That wasn't a precise measurement, just a subjective opinion.

Speaking of high-capacity drives, EFI BIOS should support GPT partitions in addition to the classic MBR ones. But support for GPT drives can be implemented into a regular BIOS boot loader as well. Moreover, only the 64-bit Windows 7 and Vista will be able to boot from a GPT drive. If you prefer Windows XP, that innovation is not for you. Perhaps that the best way is just to boot any OS you like from a small-capacity SSD drive. This should also solve any problems with high-capacity HDDs.

Finally, let's say a few words on the GUI. We've got two complaints that may curb your enthusiasm. Firstly, today's versions of GUI aren't much different from the good old text-based interface. There's mouse support, but it doesn't help much, we checked. Motherboard makers haven't yet bothered to come up with something new. Secondly, most users just have no reasons to spend much time changing BIOS settings. When you're building your machine, you may need to disable unused controllers, set timings and memory mode, organize bootable device queue. And that's it. As for overclocking, it's much more conveniently done in Windows. From this angle, the whole GUI idea is like flexing muscles in an empty gym.

However, we still have to give ASUS some credit. The company did take a few steps towards understanding why users may need a GUI and what advantages it may offer. The default BIOS screen of the P8P67 Deluxe is depicted above. It's almost purely informational, but at least the data is provided by means of graphics (although scale ranges are meaningless). The two interactive features are power saving mode selection and drag-and-drop bootable device queue icons. As you can see, for now it's just a funny attraction, but ASUS is going in the right direction. Mouse controls can greatly boost GUI usability, the company just needs to tailor the interface to it. Say, add sliders to quickly adjust parameteres. But what you have now is the advanced mode, where all you need a mouse for is to click and scroll long lists (although typing in values is much faster).

Since we're describing BIOS, we should also say a few words about overclocking capabilities. The P8P67 Deluxe allows you to adjust all the necessary multipliers, both for each core in the Turbo Boost mode (Limited Unlocked) and for all cores at once in the typical mode, if you have a "K" processor. Besides, you can set the desired TDP and the maximum 'overshoot,' as well as the average time lapse used to calculate consumed energy (up to 32 seconds; the longer it is, the longer a CPU can have the above-threshold TDP). Judging by features of other P67-based motherboards we've seen, this feature is standard. Another BIOS feature is Digi+ VRM fine-tuning, but it's more convenient to do it in AI Suite II in Windows.

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