|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: ASRock Z77 Extreme6 Motherboard|
|Posted by Ed Smith|
|Sunday, 22 April 2012 22:25|
Page 7 of 10
Software DVD Tour
The software DVD has a tremendous amount of stuff on it, I did not have time to do in depth testing on the whole thing. As such I focused on the features unique to this board, or at least ASRock Z77 boards.
First up was Virtu MVP. In most situations it worked as advertised and gave a far higher frame rate. Unfortunately lunch was not free, and there were lurches every second or so during testing. I have no idea why, no amount of fiddling got rid of them. One benchmark, Unigine Heaven DX11 lost frames per second, I'm guessing it is due to the massive tessellation load involved in that benchmark. Overall Virtu MVP is an excellent idea and I think that as the software is perfected the lurches will get ironed out.
I worked with the ASRock (Intel...) InstantBoot software a bit, you are given two options as you'll see in the screenshot. One is for if you intend to turn the AC power off and the other is for if you do not. Essentially you're looking at semi-hibernate mode and sortof-sleep mode. I tested the flavor that allows you to turn the AC power off and noted that the Z77 Extreme6 POSTs even faster than it normally does with that enabled. This is impressive as the board spends maybe two seconds posting, it is one of the fastest boards I have used.
Next I played with the XFastUSB a bit, the results on it are quite impressive, especially if you spend some time using the USB stick. I'm concerned that the buffering action may cause issues if you pull the stick out while there is still data in the buffer however. It is possible that the software is intelligent enough to avoid that.
The XFastLAN widget works nicely. I haven't been using the board long enough for it to pick up on my usage habits and start shaping my bandwidth use automatically, but I was able to tell it to prioritize certain sorts of traffic. It also comes with a very cool windows "gadget" that charts the active transfer threads as well as displaying bandwidth used uploading and downloading, below is a screenshot:
Very cool, I love this sort of thing.
Last for the XFast stuff I played with XFastRam a bit as well. This is a cool program, it takes the ramdisk concept to the next level and automates switching various windows functions onto the ramdisk. The only downside is that you have to reboot to make changes to the drive. Below is an ATTO result from testing the ramdisk, you'll note a huge variance in speeds reported. When ATTO is faced with something that is simply too fast for it to test this is what you get. Check out the peak speeds reported though!
The peak? 4.2 Gigabytes per second. I love it! Right around 100 MB/s for 0.5k transfers and 700-800MB/s for 4k file transfers. It's almost frightening. After the 4.2GB/s mark ATTO starts to have issues, oh well.
Last on our tour is the AXTU program for hardware monitoring, fan control, overclocking, and so on. When you start it up, you are faced with the hardware monitoring page:
As you can see I was running at an easy 4.2GHz through this portion of testing. OCing to this level was incredibly simple.
The fan control page gives you a ton of options as well, though their labels could be more informative.
Levels are all well and good, but it seems like it'd be easier if they were defined in voltages or percentiles rather than abstract levels. On the plus side, the controls actually work. Seems like a silly plus side, but I have seen motherboard companies (not ASRock) put out controls that don't work. So kudos to ASRock for functioning controls here.
Next is the overclocking page, this is where things get serious in my book. Modern motherboards don't work with third party overclocking software, so the options available via the motherboard utilities are extremely important.
Lots of options, the options actually work, it's great. My only gripe is that you only get to use offset voltage, if you set a static voltage in the UEFI and then use the software in windows it resets the static voltage to the CPU's VID and starts using the offset voltage. This is annoying if you don't want an offset voltage, but can be worked around. The bclk slider goes in nice small bites and you get access to all the various motherboard voltages here too. It's some of the best OCing software I've seen in quite a while, really.
Related is the OC DNA page, it allows you to save and load the UEFI's overclocking profiles in windows. This way you can back up your profiles if you want to have more than three or if you plan to flash a new UEFI revision. It's a cool feature.
You also get to see your BIOS (UEFI...) revision and date.
IES allows you to play with the power saving features on the board, note the screenshot below and what it says about overclocking:
When it says only for non-overclocking it means it, if your CPU is overclocked this will not function. Even more exciting, if you have set a static vcore voltage in the UEFI and click the IES menu on the left you'll get an instant BSOD.
Even while overclocked (with an offset vcore!) you can see the number of phases being used. The above shot is at idle, here is one with full load:
Last for the AXTU software is the XFast RAM settings section, this is very cool. We already talked about it though, so here's a picture.
Putting the memory page file in memory is a nice workaround for older programs that require a page file to run (and BSOD without it!), or for if you have 4GB of ram or more and a 32bit operating system. XFast RAM can use the RAM above the 4GB barrier imposed by 32bit operating systems.