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Thread: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

  1. #1
    CRRacer is offline Junior Member
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    Default Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    My extreme 4 system specs are listed in the sig, however, I have swapped out the GTX560Ti for a GTX670FTX Sig2. I've been running Bios 1.30 for about a year now without issue, CPU OC'd to 4.4GHz. I had tried Bios version 1.40, but with that Bios, the system would lock up during the exectution of WEI. Not long after they released 1.70 (yes I know it's not listed, it had issues), I tried that bios as well, same issue with sytem lockup during WEI. I went as far as 1.80, experiencing the same exact issue. I flashed back to 1.30, no issues, have been hesitant to try another Bios. Is there any reason to try 2.80? I've read some of the posts regarding 2.80, saw a few issues, but the issues I saw don't seem to pertain to any hardware configuration that I have. This is the first board I've elected to not stay current with the latest Bios, I'm still alive, so I guess everything is ok...(but it does sort of bug me)
    Rod

    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ASUS Sabertooth Z77
    i7-2600k i7-2600k
    G-Skill 16GB Ripjaw X DDR3 1866 G-Skill 16GB Sniper DDR3 1866
    Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 3.0 Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 2.0
    EVGA GTX670FTW Sig2 EVGA 2XGTX560Ti FPB SLI
    Corsair HX850 Silver Plus Cooler Master Silent Pro 850
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD Samsung 830 128GB SSD

  2. #2
    CRRacer is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    Went ahead and just updated BIOS from 1.3 to 2.90, seems to be quite stable and I really like the new bootup screen with the simple ASRock as opposed to the 5X stuff.
    Rod

    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ASUS Sabertooth Z77
    i7-2600k i7-2600k
    G-Skill 16GB Ripjaw X DDR3 1866 G-Skill 16GB Sniper DDR3 1866
    Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 3.0 Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 2.0
    EVGA GTX670FTW Sig2 EVGA 2XGTX560Ti FPB SLI
    Corsair HX850 Silver Plus Cooler Master Silent Pro 850
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD Samsung 830 128GB SSD

  3. #3
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is online now Senior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    One of the updates to the Z77 Ex 4's UEFI/BIOS is a simplified ASRock splash screen, that some prefer... uuhhh, never mind

    I'm joking of course, but I hope that is not the only thing you'll find useful in the new UEFI versions. Whoa, I didn't even know that version 2.90 was released for our board, but I always use the Instant Flash version and method.

    UEFI 1.30 is pretty old, over a year, I have one ASR Z77 Ex 4 board that came with a newer version than that. I have two of these boards, one with a Sandy Bridge CPU, the other with an Ivy Bridge, so I do have experience with the UEFI's, and use 2.80 on both. While I always say that new versions are not always better, in the case of this board, the newer versions contain some useful updates, IMO. I don't remember any bad versions or changes that were not good.

    I can't recall when the following changes were introduced, but needless to say, you'll have all of them with 2.90:

    The CPU Fan speed controls in HW Monitor should have a new option, called Custom. When that is selected, another option appears that allows you to enter a number between... 1 and 255 IIRC. The number sets an idle/standard CPU fan speed, smaller numbers are lower speeds, larger are higher. The number itself is not significant and simply sets different speeds relative to the fan you are using. It allows a wide range of fans and fan speeds to be used. BTW, this was a surprise feature, meaning it was not documented in the (barely there) description. (Edit: Actually added in 1.20, according to the description, but I thought it was in a later version than that.)

    A good number of the added features were oriented towards Windows 8, and making what I call "true UEFI booting" easier. That is, actually allowing the UEFI firmware (a BIOS or UEFI are a mother board's firmware) to start, POST, run the Option ROMs, boot Windows, etc, the PC. By default in the UEFI the CSM (Compatibility Support Module) is enabled, which causes a standard BIOS startup (really emulated) to happen. CSM must be disabled, Windows must be installed in EFI/UEFI support mode, and the OS drive formatted as GPT for UEFI booting to happen.

    UEFI booting does not offer many advantages yet, but currently allows the Secure Boot option to be used, the Windows 8 Ultra Fast boot feature will work, and HDDs greater than 2.2TB is size may be used as the OS drive, and have more than four primary partitions. The major drawback to UEFI booting at this time is the video source (video card or onboard CPU video) must support what is called the GOP video protocol used by the UEFI when UEFI booting. Most video cards do not support GOP, and even recent generation video cards require a Vbios update to support GOP.

    ASRock added Vbios support for the Intel onboard graphics (as far as I can tell, that is mentioned in the description, and it works fine), updated the Intel RAID Option ROM to a UEFI booting compatible version, and added an Intel RAID configuration option to the UEFI itself (only available when UEFI booting in RAID mode.) That option is useful when Ultra Fast booting Windows 8, since it is not possible to use an Option ROM's UI in that mode. Frankly, the only way to get into the UEFI GUI when Ultra Fast booting, is with a tool ASRock provides (Restart to UEFI), or by using a somewhat buried option in Windows 8.

    The Load Line Calibration option was fixed, the lowest setting was actually the highest... it was just wrong in earlier versions, on several ASR boards. PCIe 3.0 detection and support was improved, and the option configuring that was improved.

    If you use a CPU that supports VT-d, and use that feature, it won't work after UEFI 2.70... or is it 2.50? This is in the description for version 2.70:

    2. Modify VT-d Capability will be unsupported after flashing BIOS P2.50.

  4. #4
    CRRacer is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    That's a lot!

    Perhaps your knowledge could assist me with an issue I noticed between my two machines in my sig.

    These two machines, about a year ago, when running passmark benchmark software were nearly identical with the numbers slightly favoring the Sabertooth board. I've updated the BIOS on both to the latest since then, put a GTX670FTW Sgi2 in the Extreme4 and SLI'd the 560ti's in the Sabertooth. Both systems are set to X44 on the CPU all cores and 100 on the BCLK.

    I downloaded the new passmark 8, and while the Extreme4 screams and is near the top of the charts, the Sabertooth is WAY down, i.e. the CPU rates right up there with the i7 920! The memory is way down and the SSD performance is barely above HDD. Are there anythings to check for in the BIOS that could possibly be causing this? After updating BIOS I always go back and setup the XMP and OC the processor, but that's about all I can think of that I do. The WEI for both are still 7.8 CPU and 7.9 for everything else. I notice with CPUZ that the sabertooth kinda floats around in the ~20's on the multiplier during thepassmark test, where on the Extreme4 it hits X44.

    If I run WEI on the sabertooth, CPUZ will shoot up to X44.
    Rod

    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ASUS Sabertooth Z77
    i7-2600k i7-2600k
    G-Skill 16GB Ripjaw X DDR3 1866 G-Skill 16GB Sniper DDR3 1866
    Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 3.0 Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 2.0
    EVGA GTX670FTW Sig2 EVGA 2XGTX560Ti FPB SLI
    Corsair HX850 Silver Plus Cooler Master Silent Pro 850
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD Samsung 830 128GB SSD

  5. #5
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is online now Senior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    OMG, that could be caused by all kinds of things. "Identical" or near so can be not true for reasons we can't easily see. Differences in Windows updates, the different utilities each board manufacture has, and how many are installed in each system. The drivers each board manufacture supplies can be different, or even slightly modified by the manufacture, so they are no longer identical. An owner would really need to spend time trying to get every driver identical on two different manufacture's boards.

    The BIOS/UEFI of different boards that have the same chipset (Z77) and CPU will have different options, or those options have slightly different implementations (the way they work) which affect how things function. There are also many settings or adjustments in a BIOS that the user is not aware of, or can control. A BIOS version can have those things changed from one version to another. That's why some user will say one BIOS version is poor, or even broken compared to another. There are many underlying settings that require more knowledge than most PC enthusiasts have, or in some cases even have access to the information needed to understand them.

    Ever check a review of several boards that use the same chipset and CPU? Many tests will be identical or very close, but then in one test or another, one or more boards are better, and one or more are quite a bit worse. The reasons for the differences are rarely explained, mainly because it is difficult to know what the causes are.

    I've noticed something about at least some if not all of the ASUS Intel Sabertooth boards, of which I've used the X58 and P67 versions. I even see this with the latest Z87 Sabertooth. They are rated to OC memory up to ~2000, while virtually all other Z87 boards are able to work with memory up to ~3000. Why is that, and why is that done to those boards? Got me...

    The difference in the CPU frequency on your two Z77 boards might be caused by the Windows Power Plan option that is selected, or the settings for the Max and Minimum processor states in the Advanced settings. Z87 boards are even more sensitive to the Power Plan/Processor max/min settings. I can select one power plan I have configured one way, and the CPU will run at the max multiplier all the time. With another power plan, the CPU will throttle down to 800MHz. The speeds are determined by BIOS settings, but the power plan can override the power saving options. That does not work with my ASR Z77 Ex 4 board. The SaberTooth's CPU speed might be different due to the way ASUS has the CPU BIOS settings set up, compared to ASRock.

    One possibly important difference with your two boards/systems is caused by the limited PCIe lanes available on Z77 (and 5, 6 and 8 series Intel PCH chipsets) boards. One video card runs at PCIe x16, but two cards each run at PCIe x8. Since you use two i7-2600K's, you don't have PCIe 3.0, which would only work with your '760 anyway.

    About your SSDs, are you sure they are both connected to the Intel SATA III ports, and not the secondary Marvell or ASMedia SATA III ports, that perform significantly below the Intel ports? That is a common mistake to make. Next, there a only two Intel SATA III ports, is one of the SSDs on a SATA II port? Your M4 and 830 should perform about the same, although the M4 has better read speeds, but the difference should not be as much as you described. Both boards set to AHCI mode in the BIOS? Same SATA drivers used, Intel IRST or the standard Windows msahci?

  6. #6
    CRRacer is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, I know it could be any number of reasons, it's just sort of baffling to me.

    I did try to do the Passmark 7 again, trouble is it remembers being on there before, so my 30 trial is up. I'm going to email passmark and see if a license for 8 would allow me to run 7 as well, but I also want to ask them if it supports SLI cards. I see no mention of it showing that I'm running SLI in the Asus machine. It does show under the processor specs that the turbo is at 44, I've compared how it sees the processor between both machines, it sees them the same. I have SLI enabled under the NVidia control panel and IMHO, the Asus in SLI actually plays World of Tanks a tick better than the ASRock with the GTX670, graphics settings in that game are set identical between the two computers.

    I'm not sure what happened, but a rerun of the benchmark now shows the SSD as outperforming everything else in their standard comparison on the Asus, even better than the M4 that is in the ASRock. Memory still isn't up to par, IMO and the processor is rating just a bit above the i7 920. I've poured through the BIOS, it's set correctly, reports a target of 4400GHz CPU and 1866 MHz RAM. CPUZ shows the CPU boosting to 4400~ and ram at 933. I believe it to be an issue with the passmark software, which is another reason to contact them.

    I do have a question regarding my SLI setup. While poking around in the BIOS looking at PCIe1,2&3 there is a setting to make PCIe1 at x4 or x1, if I understand it correctly, it appears that if I were to select x4, it disables PCIe2 and 3, which to me means that I want x1 for the SLI setup. Is this correct? It's set to x1 as it is. as far as PCI express 3.0, I was under the impress it was only available if a person were using an ivy bridge CPU or later, not sandy bridge, no?

    I did find an interesting article on xbit labs covering the Asus sabertooth and overclocking. It compares both boards I have, only with an ivy bridge CPU. They have found what I figured out from the get go, which eases my mind a bit. The Extreme4, I could take to 46 on the multiplier and everything worked great. The best I could do on the Sabertooth was 44. I can go 45 and 46, but the system isn't stable, they found the same thing. The thought maybe the CPU had degraded after being testing on 4 or 5 Z77 boards prior to testing it on the Sabertooth. They got the Extreme4 board back out and found the CPU still OC'd stable at 46. I don't care that the Asus can't get stable above 44. I find it interesting tweaking between the two. I do find it interesting that a board that sells for a hundred bucks less, outperforms the more expensive board.

    I had forgot that the Asus originally had 8 GB of RAM and I recently bumped it to 16. Ram was added using identical RAM, but I thought maybe since it was from different batches, it was causing a problem. I removed the new RAM, tested the same, both CPU and RAM, so I don't believe that to be an issue. I'm not too concerned about the RAM difference, I haven't checked the timing spec between my RipJaw and the Sniper, but it's been my experience that all the Ripjaw memory I have out performs all the Sniper memory I have.

    I will probably flash the Asus board back to my previous BIOS and run the tests again just to check that out.
    Rod

    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ASUS Sabertooth Z77
    i7-2600k i7-2600k
    G-Skill 16GB Ripjaw X DDR3 1866 G-Skill 16GB Sniper DDR3 1866
    Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 3.0 Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 2.0
    EVGA GTX670FTW Sig2 EVGA 2XGTX560Ti FPB SLI
    Corsair HX850 Silver Plus Cooler Master Silent Pro 850
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD Samsung 830 128GB SSD

  7. #7
    CRRacer is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Any reason to upgrade z77 extreme4 bios?

    Apparently my sleepless night was all for naught. I uninstalled passmark8 and reinstalled it. All is well according to the charts, this Asus now screams right along with the ASRock.

    It was interesting that during the original testing, passmark8 didn't accelerate the CPU to much above ~2.9GHz. After reinstalling the software and running the benchmark test with GPUz open, during the CPU test GPUz was showing it pegging the CPU to ~4.4GHz. My CPU score went from original install score of ~6000 to 10983, right there with how the CPU scored on the ASRock machine.

    However, it still appears the it isn't picking up the SLI video card setup with the bench test. While the scores increased after reinstall, they do not reach that of the single GTX670 FTX Sig2 GPU in the ASRock, but while playing actual games, the SLI setup feels as if it is performing somewhat better, FPS is usually ~5 or so higher, identical settings across the board for the games that were tried.
    Rod

    ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ASUS Sabertooth Z77
    i7-2600k i7-2600k
    G-Skill 16GB Ripjaw X DDR3 1866 G-Skill 16GB Sniper DDR3 1866
    Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 3.0 Cooler Master 692 II Advanced USB 2.0
    EVGA GTX670FTW Sig2 EVGA 2XGTX560Ti FPB SLI
    Corsair HX850 Silver Plus Cooler Master Silent Pro 850
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD Samsung 830 128GB SSD

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