ASUS Specific Hardware Features
Aside from common features and software offerings, ASUS have also implemented a few extra hardware features to continue to set them apart from the fierce competition in the motherboard space.
Dual Intelligent Processors 3
Throughout the review you’ll notice mention of TPU and EPU, which are held under the banner of ASUS’ Dual Intelligent Processors 3.
TPU is a hardware-based controller that is attached to the motherboard, and effectively enables the truly extensive frequency and voltage monitoring or control that is available within the ASUS Ai Suite or the UEFI itself. ‘
Using the TPU switch on the motherboard will instantly overclock your CPU at a hardware level, typically to frequencies around 4.2 or 4.3Ghz. This is extremely beneficial if you want your computer to perform at higher-than-stock levels, yet don’t want to play around with the very in-depth overclocking settings available to you.
The other of ASUS’ Dual Intelligent Processors is EPU. EPU, again, is a hardware based controller. However, the functionality offered is different. EPU works with the ASUS all digital PWM design (dubbed Digi+ PWM) to increase efficiency in the power phases of the board. It also works in conjunction with the EPU section of the Ai Suite, allowing you to make changes in real-time.
Setting the hardware switch for EPU to “On” will undervolt the CPU, allowing you to run at stock speeds but with reduced voltages. This is useful for people who want to run stock speeds, yet reduce power delivery (and therefore increase power efficiency) who may not wish to tweak individual UEFI settings.
If you’re running dual channel memory, it’s quite common for some people to buy two RAM DIMMs initially and then another two RAM DIMMs later. More often than not this is worry free and a plug-and-play upgrade, however on occasion your memory can conflict and not POST. MemOK! can force your system to tweak its memory settings to ensure compatibility.
Simply put, you turn your system on, wait for the boot lighting to go to the memory, and then press and hold the MemOK! button. On occasion this may restart your system, other times it will continue to boot – it depends on the action MemOK! has to take.
When I was overclocking my RAM and attempted to push further than I could, I would fail to POST. On any other board this would require a clear of the CMOS and a complete reset of all your other settings. Whilst often these can be restored by using saved profiles, not every board has them. With the P8Z77-V PRO, I could simply hold down the MemOK! button, and it would tune my memory back down to a more stable speed and allow me to enter the BIOS.
USB BIOS Flashback
Mentioned briefly in the software section, USB BIOS Flashback is another feature designed with both ease of use in mind, whilst also acting as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you attempted to update your BIOS via Windows or in the UEFI and it failed, your board will probably not function any more. On most boards, this means it’s time to RMA. A bricked BIOS is typically unfixable, unless you’re lucky enough to have a board with dual BIOS (which most do not) or an ASUS board with USB BIOS Flashback.
To take advantage of this feature, you can either download the BIOS file straight from ASUS, or use the software tool included in the Ai Suite.
First, you enter the USB BIOS Flashback tool via the update pane in the ASUS Ai Suite.
Select “Check for new BIOS update” and it will connect to ASUS’ servers and check for a more recent BIOS version, and then you can set it to download the file to a USB flash drive of your choice.
Once this is done, turn off your system and plug your USB drive into the bottom of the Intel-controlled USB 3.0 ports. Press and hold the USB BIOS Flashback button on the motherboard, and then wait for the task to be completed. Don’t power on whilst the board is updating, as you could corrupt the BIOS. Not that that matters, though, as you can just use USB BIOS Flashback again to fix it! You can also do this when there is no CPU, memory, or graphics card installed!
I tested this function and successfully updated my BIOS from version 1009 to version 1206.
It’s worth saying that ASUS in fact implement their BIOS in a different way than most other board manufacturers. Whereas in most cases the BIOS chip (or chips) is soldered to the board, ASUS manufactures their boards in a way that allows the BIOS chip to be replaced without damaging surrounding components, or sending the entire board back to RMA should their be an issue.
ASUS have also bundled a Wireless module with the P8Z77-V PRO. Plugging into its own designated area between the ASMedia USB 3.0 ports and the Intel USB 2.0 ports, it doesn’t take up a PCI-E slot or get in the way of anything important. It comes with its own antenna, with a cable long enough to get away from the metallic interference of your computer chassis, and therefore collect a high quality signal.
I cleared all OTA network activity and ran a benchmark of read/write speeds across the network, attempting to read and write a 10MB file to my HTPC.
Here are the results, including a comparison against a fairly mainstream USB WiFi a/b/g/n adapter, the TrendNET TEW-648UB.
As you can see, write speed can be compared to a typical USB adapter, but the read speeds are increased by quite a margin. Also the benefit of not having to take up a USB port, the fact that you can obtain a better signal, all add up to make the Wi-Fi GO! module exceptionally beneficial if you’re unfortunate enough to have to use wireless on your desktop.