GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Review
GIGABYTE includes the latest version of their UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) DualBIOS with the the Z87X-OC Force motherboard. The UEFI BIOS offers full keyboard and mouse support while using the BIOS pages with enhanced mouse navigation supported by right clicking the mouse - goes back to previous view if inside a settings pop-up or on a sub-menu page. Note that this right click functionality behaves this way in Classic Mode only. Right clicking in Windows Mode displays the shortcuts menu. GIGABYTE also includes a screencap utility, which generates a 1024x768 BMP image in normal resolution mode and a 1920x1080 BMP image in HD resolution mode on an attached USB drive upon clicking the F12 function key.
GIGABYTE's BIOS implementation continues to impress me with my experience using the Z87X-OC Force's UEFI BIOS much cleaner than with the Z87-UD3H. However, there are still a few bugs to be worked out of the system especially with the mouse handling. In most cases, the mouse is detected correctly and works as expected. Sometime though, the mouse works in an unaccelerated fashion, requiring excessive movement to get the pointer to the desired location. Normally, a simple reboot and reentry into the BIOS corrects this mouse behavior. The only other complaint was the inability to access the BIOS in high resolution mode using a standalone video card. I tried with an NVIDIA 570 GTX through VGA, HDMI, and DVI to no avail. The only way HD resolution mode worked was by attaching an HDMI cable directly to the onboard port and removing the video card from the system. However, this remains an extremely new BIOS implementation and can only get better over time. All the issues encountered are easily remedied with future BIOS releases.
BIOS Notable Features
GIGABYTE's UEFI BIOS is by far the most innovative UEFI implementation I've seen on a Z87-based board. The most obvious change is the revamping of their 3D BIOS to the new DualBIOS branding. GIGABYTE offers two different use modes in the BIOS - Windows Mode and Classic Mode. You can switch between the two using the shortcut menu or by pressing the F2 function key. The Windows Mode BIOS pages offer a modern-style interface with entry fields and horizontal sliders for every field. The fields are grouped by sectional pages similar to the Classic Mode grouping. Windows Mode also offers a high definition operational mode that uses the additional resolution space to show board specs along the outside of the configuration screens. You can click on the Resolution Toggle setting from the shortcut menu or hit the F6 function key to switch from standard to HD resolution. Additionally, a Home section housing customizable tabs has be added to house your favorite features and a Favorites frame containing a Shortcuts section for fast access to menus and submenus.
Windows Mode, Home section
The Home section offers the use a series of six customizable tabs for housing any settings within the BIOS. The first two tabs, named Performance and Standard, are pre-populated with settings appropriate to the tab name. Each tab contains a Setup button allowing for configuration of the settings shown with the tab. For settings with numeric configuration, like CPU ratio or voltage settings, have an entry field, a horizontal slider, as well as an on-off button to the right of the slider. You have the option of manually entering values or using the slider for selection. The On-Off button is the most intriguing though, allowing the user to enable real-time adjustment and enactment of the setting changes made.
Windows Mode, Home section, HD resolution mode
In HD resolution mode, the BIOS screen resolution increases to fully 1080p mode (1920x1080 resolution). In high definition mode, the normal Windows Mode pages and tabs are centered in the window with various fan speed, temperature, and voltage status, and board and CPU information around the outer edges of the screen. This is one of the most innovative features of GIGABYTE's DualBIOS, but it is also one of the more flaky. In order to get the BIOS to render in HD resolution, I had to connect via the onboard HDMI port with the video card removed from the system. Otherwise, HD resolution mode would not work.
Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Setup User Options popup
When the Setup button is clicked, the Setup User Options menu displays. The user has the ability to select any setting from the BIOS for display as well as customizing the tab name. The options can be reorder from within this menu as well.
Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Select a Shortcut popup
Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Shortcut popup
When the Select Shortcut link is clicked under the Shortcuts heading in the Favorites frame, the Select a Shortcut menu displays. Through this menu, the user has the ability to added quick links to commonly used pages. This shortcut menu displays in the Favorites frame while in the Home tab or when the mouse is right clicked while in the Windows Mode BIOS interface. Note that only menus and submenus can be added to this shortcut list, options cannot be directly added to the list.
BIOS Walkthrough - Overlocking Setting, Classic Mode
M.I.T. tab, M.I.T. Current Status page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Frequency Settings page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Frequency Settings page, Advanced CPU Core Settings page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page, Misc Timing Control settings
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page, Misc Timing Control settings continued
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, Advanced Power Control page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, CPU Core Voltage Control page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, Chipset Voltage Control page
M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, DRAM Voltage Control page
M.I.T. tab, PC Health Status page
M.I.T. tab, PC Health Status page, Fan and Temperature Threshold settings
M.I.T. tab, Miscellaneous Settings page
Windows Mode screens
Performance tab, Frequency page
Performance tab, Memory page
Performance tab, Voltage page
Performance tab, Voltage page, Advanced Power Settings page
Performance tab, Voltage page. CPU Core Voltage Control page
Performance tab, Voltage page, Chipset Voltage Control page
Performance tab, Voltage page, DRAM Voltage Control page
Performance tab, Miscellaneous page