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Thread: ASRock Z87 Extreme 6 UEFI/BIOS 2.20 Update

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    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is offline Senior Member
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    Third stone from the sun

    Default ASRock Z87 Extreme 6 UEFI/BIOS 2.20 Update

    ASRock recently (12/04/13) released UEFI version 2.20 for their Z87 Extreme 6 and Z87 Extreme 6/ac boards. Similar UEFI updates were posted a bit earlier for other ASRock Z87 boards.

    UEFI version 2.20 for the Z87 Extreme 6 and Z87 Extreme 6/ac boards have this description:

    1. Update CPU code.
    2. Update Intel ME.
    3. Hide Intel Turbo Boost Technology if CPU does not support this feature.
    4. Improve memory compatibility.
    5. Update CPU EZ OC table.

    All these additions or changes are good ones, but one thing not mentioned in the description is the change to the Vcore Voltage Additional Offset option. This change also applies to all the Voltage Additional Offset options for other CPU components. The important change is the addition of Negative Voltage Offsets that can be used with Vcore Adaptive Voltage. That is, reducing the Adaptive Vcore voltage from its selected value.

    Previously, negative voltage offset settings for Vcore Adaptive Voltage did not exist in these board's UEFIs. As anyone attempting to OC a Haswell CPU using Adaptive voltage mode on these boards knows, the core voltages while stress testing when using Adaptive Voltage mode were higher than the selected Adaptive Vcore voltage.

    Selecting an Adaptive Vcore voltage of 1.20V with Vcore Voltage Additional Offset set to Auto, would result in a Vcore of 1.3V+ while stress testing with AIDA 64 or Prime95. Core temperatures with moderate OCs (4.3 - 4.5GHz) would reach 100C with very good aftermarket CPU coolers, and CPU throttling would occur. We were told that Adaptive Voltage simply worked like this. The only settings beside Auto for the Additional Offset voltages were positive values, which increased the Vcore voltage.

    Was that high voltage of 1.3v+ necessary? No, the same OC level could be reached with a lower fixed Vcore voltage. But a fixed Vcore voltage is just that, fixed, while using Adaptive Voltage allows the Vcore* to drop well below 1V when using SpeedStep and/or C-States, with the core speeds below the chosen multipliers, down to 800MHz. Fixed Voltage would not allow the core voltages to change, even if the cores were running at 800MHz.

    Vcore Voltage Additional Offset negative values change the unnecessarily high core voltages that occur with Adaptive Voltage. You may be surprised by how much you can reduce the core voltages and still have a stable OC. If your OC is not extreme (for Haswell), say anything under 4.3GHz down to stock clocks, you can get the core voltage at or below 1.1V at your chosen multiplier. When SpeedStep is enabled, core voltages are under 0.65V.

    The negative voltage offset settings are really worth using and experimenting with if you use Adaptive Voltage, whether you OC or not. At stock clock speed, you can use 1V core voltage, or very close to it. ASRock, thanks for these options!

    Another unmentioned new option is DRAM Performance Mode, which can be set to Auto or High Performance. What does it do? I have no idea. I chose High Performance but really have not noticed anything. I haven't ran any memory benchmarks, so who knows what might happen.

    I must credit ASRock for something else they did in this UEFI update that is a great idea, but it not a UEFI option or feature. The 2.20 description includes Update Intel ME. That refers to the Intel Management Engine firmware, that is a part of the UEFI image/file. Updating the IME firmware is an (in)famous part of the Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge compatibility UEFI/BIOS update on Intel 6 series and X79 boards.

    Those updates would first perform the UEFI/BIOS code update, and then apply the IME firmware update in a second step, when the PC was restarted after the UEFI update. If the user removed the USB flash drive with the UEFI and IME firmware file before the firmware was updated, they would have problems. The UEFI 2.20 update performs the IME firmware update first, before the UEFI code update, and is completed in one step before the PC is restarted. That simplifies the process and is a much safer way to update the IME firmware.

    EDIT: Found another surprise change in the 2.20 UEFI. This one involves the fan speed settings when using Custom mode, and is found both on the PWM fans configuration, and Chassis fans that have the Custom speed option. The fan speed percentage which previously had a minimum value of 30%, now can be set as low as 0%. So more fans can be adjusted to lower speeds.

    Be careful using these new settings, if set to low the fan may not start or run. You might be able to set the fan to run only when a certain CPU temperature is reached, but most fans need more voltage/power to get started spinning, than they do to maintain Mobo manufactures are reluctant to provide options like this, since users may use them incorrectly and blame the manufacture if problems or damage occurs.

    *Note: The term Vcore here actually refers to the CPU core VIDs, as the actual core voltages are not available for a program to display on most if not all of these ASRock boards. Additional sensor hardware is apparently necessary to measure and display the actual core voltages (that at least one other mobo manufacture seems to use.) If Haswell processors behave in the same way as earlier Intel processors do, the actual core voltage can be lower than the VID values displayed.
    Last edited by parsec; 12-14-2013 at 11:55 AM.

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