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Want a z68 board, but with old style BIOS

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January 9, 2012 12:13:25 PM

I'm currently ordering the pieces for a new gaming build, but am uncertain how to approach the choice of a new motherboard. I want to get a board with the z68 chipset but also want the old style BIOS rather than the new UEFI graphical BIOS. Why? Because I frequently will be installing various new Linux releases for evaluation... and I'd much rather have the hard drive partitioned with a regular master boot record and not have any efi partition. I will be dual booting, with Windows 7 64-bit as the first primary partition and Linux on the second and third partitions. I'll also be using an ssd drive, possibly as the only HDD on the system for a few months.

If my understanding is correct, I should be able to select the old BIOS mode with most any new motherboard. This would be ideal for my needs, as long as Windows will install in that mode without creating an extra partition for efi booting. I'm not interested in any RAID setup, even after adding a second and maybe third mechanical HDD to the system for storage.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the matter, especially from someone who has already done something similar with their system. Thanks.

More about : z68 board style bios

a b V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 12:51:54 PM

You don't need to have old style BIOS to boot from a MBR drive. I own a UEFI motherboard from ASUS and it works perfectly fine with my old MBR drive.
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January 9, 2012 12:59:12 PM

That is where I'm confused. All the new boards I have looked at seem to have a "fallback" mode to the old BIOS. My questions are: can I initially select the old style BIOS before installing Win7 and use the ssd with no efi partition? Can I first format the ssd with my desired partition scheme and not include an efi partition (before installing any operating system)?

This is appealing because I could install and use only Linux for a few months, and then purchase Win7 or Win8 later on, and install it after reformatting the drive again. Would my plan apply to all Gigabyte motherboards with dual BIOS? ASUS and ASRock boards also?
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a b V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 1:04:38 PM

EFI mobos required an EFI partition (and even then not all of them), UEFI does not, and will work with just about any HDD format. UEFI is far superior to BIOS in just about every way! Dont run from progress!
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a b V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 1:14:11 PM

With most UEFI motherboards you can choose how to boot the installation media with UEFI or not. When you choose to boot Windows 7 installation media with UEFI the installation drive must be GPT, otherwise it works just as a BIOS setup.
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January 9, 2012 1:17:45 PM

Actually, if I were only going to have Windows then I'd love to have only UEFI bios. My problem is that I prefer Linux as my main system and Windows only for gaming. I also enjoy distro-hopping (fun with Linux), but not all Linux systems work well with UEFI.

But you are correct, I should just buy the most appealing motherboard and learn to make it work. And judging from your replies, it should work without any problems. Thanks for the help.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 1:35:08 PM

Hmm UEFI works fine with Linux. What 'obscure' Linux is having problems?

CONFIG_EFI=y
CONFIG_RELOCATABLE=y
CONFIG_FB_EFI=y
CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE=y
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January 9, 2012 1:48:35 PM

jaquith said:
Hmm UEFI works fine with Linux. What 'obscure' Linux is having problems?

CONFIG_EFI=y
CONFIG_RELOCATABLE=y
CONFIG_FB_EFI=y
CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE=y


I don't know from personal experience... but from what I have read, some Linux distros that still use the legacy Grub and Lilo bootloaders won't work with UEFI. If I am not correct, then that just makes me happier. It would be fabulous if I could just install Win7 with UEFI, and then dual-boot with Linux (new install every week) and not experience any bad surprises. I'm not any sort of Linux pro, but am gradually learning more as I continue trying out new versions.

I was only wanting to gain some insight before purchasing the final pieces for the new build.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 2:08:23 PM

GRUB2 works:
# mkdir -p /boot/efi
# mount -t vfat <UEFISYS_PART_DEVICE> /boot/efi

ELILO/LILO is crap and poorly developed.
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January 9, 2012 2:21:31 PM

jaquith said:
GRUB2 works:
# mkdir -p /boot/efi
# mount -t vfat <UEFISYS_PART_DEVICE> /boot/efi

ELILO/LILO is crap and poorly developed.


Do I do that regardless of whether I'm installing only Linux, or dual booting with Win7 already installed? Either way, I presume the HDD already has the efi partition as the first partition, fat32, 200mb? Obviously, I don't quite understand. Thus, I am quite frightened.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 2:32:20 PM

Above is for Linuix only. The way 'I' Dual Boot is to use dedicated HDD/SSD's; meaning I've found it to be a problem 'dual booting' especially with Windows 7 and prefer not to partition. IMO - What you're describing is a accident waiting to happen...

For what you're describing see -> https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Unified_Extensible...

If this is more 'play' then try VMware -> http://www.vmware.com/
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January 9, 2012 2:52:25 PM

jaquith said:
Above is for Linuix only. The way 'I' Dual Boot is to use dedicated HDD/SSD's; meaning I've found it to be a problem 'dual booting' especially with Windows 7 and prefer not to partition. IMO - What you're describing is a accident waiting to happen...

For what you're describing see -> https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Unified_Extensible...

If this is more 'play' then try VMware -> http://www.vmware.com/


Yeah, I already read the Arch threads about dual booting... and that's why I decided to rather just go with MBR on my new build. It's been working fine for me for four years that way. Now it sounds like dedicated individual drives are the most sensible way to deal with it. I'll use the ssd for Windows and a mechanical drive for Linux (since Linux is plenty quick anyway, and not used for gaming). Maybe a second ssd added later this year for Linux. I've been using VM's sometimes for distro-hopping, but prefer a "real" install on the HDD most often... although it's probably illogical to do so.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 2:59:44 PM

I've found the simplest is to create BIOS Profiles with each tailored for each OS. In my case Windows 7 x64 Pro, MacOS X, RHEL, and Ubuntu. If a 'drive' fails I'm not loosing 4+ OSes plus PITA to create environments. In addition I do 'play' with other versions of Linux with VMware Player which works reasonably well though slower. All == Less Headaches!

The 'problem now' is recovery from the Thailand flooding and the astronomical HDD prices; $60 Samsung now selling for $150. Unfortunately, what I've read the prices aka screwing is going to last through 2012.
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January 9, 2012 3:11:43 PM

jaquith said:
I've found the simplest is to create BIOS Profiles with each tailored for each OS. In my case Windows 7 x64 Pro, MacOS X, RHEL, and Ubuntu. If a 'drive' fails I'm not loosing 4+ OSes plus PITA to create environments. In addition I do 'play' with other versions of Linux with VMware Player which works reasonably well though slower. All == Less Headaches!

The 'problem now' is recovery from the Thailand flooding and the astronomical HDD prices; $60 Samsung now selling for $150. Unfortunately, what I've read the prices aka screwing is going to last through 2012.


The high prices really stink, but I'm still gonna buy a mechanical drive and hope it lasts a good long while. I've considered installing Win7 or XP inside a VM in a Linux host and gaming like that. Some people say it works pretty well that way if you got plenty of ram. Sounds kinda fishy to me, but I might try it if only to satisfy my curiosity.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 3:37:29 PM

VMware Player isn't bad, but it's also not native; it's perfectly fine to use -- I like it. Yeah, I have a few Apps that only work with XP e.g. old Pagemaker Pro so I installed XP mode into Win 7 x64 Pro -- it works though slow.
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January 9, 2012 4:08:59 PM

Man, shopping for a motherboard is a real crock of crap. Every time I see one that looks great, I'll start reading the user reviews and get totally discouraged. Two people say its the best board in the world, then two other people talk about it being DOA or an endless booting loop, some even say their board caught fire. I mean, really, who can you believe? Surely some of those reviews are either positive spam or negative trolling by the other manufacturers. So I end up browsing the most expensive or prettiest boards.... and the reviews are still the same. The only thing I'm certain about is that I've had my current ASUS board for more than a year and it's been working perfectly since day one. All day, every day.

Just guessing, I bet I end up buying the prettiest board when purchase-day arrives. Regardless of the brand-name.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 4:14:43 PM

Don't pay attention to User reviews. Whenever I see x2 DOA -- I KNOW 100% it's the User's inability to Build or they haven't figured-out the 'real' bad component(s).

What MOBO?
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January 9, 2012 4:43:35 PM

jaquith said:
Don't pay attention to User reviews. Whenever I see x2 DOA -- I KNOW 100% it's the User's inability to Build or they haven't figured-out the 'real' bad component(s).

What MOBO?


Do you mean: What MOBO am I interested in? or Which one caught fire?

Well, first I was really interested in the ASRock Extreme3 Gen 3 or 4 (now trying to decide between P67 or Z68), but after reading the reviews it seems they are very thin and flimsy... and also smaller, so they are missing two mounting holes. I want a sturdy board that won't break when I throw my tower against the wall. So, forget ASRock.

Then I fell in love with the Intel Z68 board with the imprinted blue skull logo with red eyes that flash in unison with cpu activity. But that's the one that caught fire in one of the user reviews. So, forget Intel boards.

Then I was really digging on the ASUS Sabertooth with the Tuf Armor. Nevermind. You gotta remove the plastic "Armor" to reset cmos.

So now it comes down to: EVGA (expensive but nice), MSI (the higher end models look good), BIOSTAR (cheap and ugly... my kind of broad), ASUS (been there, done that. Wanna try something different) or Gigabyte (currently appeals the most to me, but worried about the endless boot-loop. And I really want it to work BEFORE flashing the BIOS).

Price is of no concern. As long as it arrives in working (new) condition and costs less than $250 US.
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January 9, 2012 5:51:40 PM

jaquith said:
Buying...

I recommend one of the following, all are good value and good for OC'ing -> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...


Wow, that was real nice of you to put up the comparison page. Thanks.

For a P67 board, I would definitely pick the ASUS Revolution. The Z68 boards will take some time to decide, both look great. At this moment I would get the EVGA mostly because it's extended (I'm certain I'd find a way to fill the extra slot), but the Gigabyte is one I had already almost chosen as my final purchase. All three of those have the nicer audio chip. On the other hand, the lower priced ASUS P67 boards would allow me to spend the savings on a better graphics card or bluray drive or fan controller. Tough decision. If I was buying today, I'd get the EVGA. I'm gonna do a bit more research on those, and in a week (when final decision day arrives) I'll be more confident in my choice.

Which one would you get if you absolutely had to buy it today?

I'll be using the I5-2500K Intel cpu w/ CoolerMaster Hyper 212+, so will overclock no higher than 4.2. Probably a GTX 560 Ti, maybe even sli a second one before the end of summer. Eventually hope to have a nice 3D gaming setup. Hopefully shopping for a monitor will be more straightforward.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me out.
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January 9, 2012 6:00:47 PM

intel dz68bc...
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 6:09:44 PM

I would either get the 1. ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.1), or 2. ASUS P8Z68-V PRO in most instances. If I wanted to build a 3-WAY SLI + PhysX then 100% the ASUS P8P67 WS REVOLUTION.

Something in between plus excellent service and support then hands down the EVGA Z68 FTW. My gaming board is EVGA and I love it :) 
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January 9, 2012 6:36:33 PM

@joemama069
That was one of my favorite picks initially. Besides the flashing skull logo, I also liked that it came with a wireless/bluetooth front panel addon and extra sata cables. I still haven't forgotten about it. BTW, Newegg is currently out of stock.

@jaquith
I keep reading that Z68 is the better chipset, but honestly am drawn more to the P67 boards. The main reason I'd choose Z68 is for integrated video functions, but only as a backup in the event of a discrete graphics card failure. Faster encoding is cool, but I believe the P67 would encode fast enough for me. Still, the EVGA Z68 board seems a wise choice, especially if their customer service is that much better than the other brands. Even if I never needed customer support, I feel a company should be acknowledged for outstanding service, and rewarded in some way (like me buying their products).

I don't have anything bad to say about ASUS at all, just want to sample a different brand. Decisions, decisions... kinda puts a knot in my stomach.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 6:55:40 PM

Hmm P67 vs Z68, if you read my posts it's typically the P67 (faster - SATA, USB and often FPS); see -> http://www.anandtech.com/show/4330/asus-p8z68v-review/5

In your top post you listed 'Z68' so I included 'my' picks. The Z68's SSD Caching and Quick Sync for 'most' isn't a MUST have item.

The reason I like both of those ASUS LGA 1155 is because I have good experiences OC'ing them with their 12 Phases and low vCores. :) 
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January 9, 2012 7:12:34 PM

jaquith said:
Hmm P67 vs Z68, if you read my posts it's typically the P67 (faster - SATA, USB and often FPS); see -> http://www.anandtech.com/show/4330/asus-p8z68v-review/5

In your top post you listed 'Z68' so I included 'my' picks. The Z68's SSD Caching and Quick Sync for 'most' isn't a MUST have item.

The reason I like both of those ASUS LGA 1155 is because I have good experiences OC'ing them with their 12 Phases and low vCores. :) 


The only real hesitation I have about choosing P67: I've read in more than one place that is absolutely necessary to flash the BIOS of a P67 board before using it because of some bug... or that all the P67 boards should have been recalled. Something like that (maybe I'm misunderstanding, highly probable). I want to get a board that will work out-of-the-box long enough for me to complete the build and install an OS. I'll flash the BIOS later. But then I read that flashing the BIOS means you gotta reinstall the OS. Sounds like a circle of frustration. Have the P67 boards all been fixed? Am I totally a non-geek nerd in my misconception of the situation?
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 7:27:52 PM

No doubt, there's a higher probability you'll need to flash your BIOS with the P67 more so than the Z68. Frankly, my global advice has been to flash the BIOS the second it posts before installing the OS. I don't find using USB Flash Drives to be problematic, it's a little different that before, now there's recovery options just in case to avoid bricking your MOBO.

Even the Z68's I recommend flashing. The P67's as they come off the assembly line use the then current BIOS image so if you run across an old BIOS version you know it's been sitting on the shelf for quite some time <or> the retailer over ordered.

Bottom-Line, don't let that aspect affect your thinking.
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January 9, 2012 7:34:47 PM

jaquith said:
No doubt, there's a higher probability you'll need to flash your BIOS with the P67 more so than the Z68. Frankly, my global advice has been to flash the BIOS the second it posts before installing the OS. I don't find using USB Flash Drives to be problematic, it's a little different that before, now there's recovery options just in case to avoid bricking your MOBO.

Even the Z68's I recommend flashing. The P67's as they come off the assembly line use the then current BIOS image so if you run across an old BIOS version you know it's been sitting on the shelf for quite some time <or> the retailer over ordered.

Bottom-Line, don't let that aspect affect your thinking.


I'm not so afraid of flashing the BIOS as I am of not being able to access the BIOS on first post. The boot-loop thing. If this happens, is there a way to get into BIOS? Or do I flash the BIOS before even accessing the BIOS for the first time? Not sure how that even works.

I mean, if something bad happens the very first time I push the power button... my wife would shoot me and my dogs would bite me.
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 7:45:50 PM

Most boot loops are caused by a short/grounding short. As a rule I always breadboard my first couple of posts or in the case if I'm going to be blocking (water cooling) then I bench everything first before deconstructing GPU's or MOBO's if blocking the entire MOBO plus a burn-in typically running overnight.

The most common issues: 1. HSF aftermarket with any metal to MOBO contact; always use a plastic style mount or add plastic washers regardless of the manual, 2. I/O short, 3. Standoff short; I also use plastic washers + silicone to keep them in place, 3. shorted header(s) from the case.
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January 9, 2012 7:57:47 PM

jaquith said:
Most boot loops are caused by a short/grounding short. As a rule I always breadboard my first couple of posts or in the case if I'm going to be blocking (water cooling) then I bench everything first before deconstructing GPU's or MOBO's if blocking the entire MOBO plus a burn-in typically running overnight.

The most common issues: 1. HSF aftermarket with any metal to MOBO contact; always use a plastic style mount or add plastic washers regardless of the manual, 2. I/O short, 3. Standoff short; I also use plastic washers + silicone to keep them in place, 3. shorted header(s) from the case.


So, assuming I've assembled everything correctly and made sure there are no shorts, I should not get a boop-loot? Also, about arctic silver curing time being 200 hours... does this mean the computer usage should be relatively mild for the first ten days? (am I really that naive? yes.)
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a c 717 V Motherboard
January 9, 2012 8:23:06 PM

If you breadboard, use known good components, and don't create a User building flub then you have a ~98% chance of success; 2% failure rate is common on all MOBO's regardless of chipset -- shipping damage or defects.

I've migrated away from Arctic Silver 5 (AS5) to Arctic Cooling MX-4 <±0.5C no curing time and it's electrically non-conductive.

However, correct Arctic Silver 5 takes about a week for full efficiency, but full efficiency is 1~3C.
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January 17, 2012 4:56:12 AM

OK, I have finally come up with a plan which would be suitable for my needs.... IF IT WORKS! I would really appreciate your opinions, feedback and criticism if you think my plan is flawed.

Rather than dual-booting Win7 and Xubuntu, I'll simply install each OS on a separate drive (just as jaquith suggested). Here are the steps I'll take.
1. Hook up the 750 GB mechanical first, partition it as a MBR (msdos partition table) drive with partition #1 Linux /, partition #2 Linux /home, partition #3 ntfs shared storage, partition #4 Linux swap. Linux will be the bootable (and only) OS on this drive. I'll boot up the Linux installation disk in BIOS mode rather than UEFI. After Linux is installed and verified to be working on this drive correctly.... I'll then shut down and disconnect the sata cable from this drive.

2. Then I'll hook up the sata3 ssd drive, boot up and enter BIOS and verify it's set to AHCI and exit. Boot up the Windows 7 installation disk and install Win7 on the ssd (gpt partition table). After verifying that Windows is working and optimizing it for the ssd, installing drivers and updates, I'll shut down.

3. Then I'll hook up the 750 GB mechanical drive again, in addition to the ssd.

4. I'll boot up again, go into BIOS... and I should be able to choose between booting to Win7 (UEFI) or Linux (MBR) on their specific drives.

5. Am I correct?

6. Now I should be able to access the ntfs shared partition from either system... and neither OS will interfere with the functioning of the other.

If my plan works, I'll be so happy. :sol: 

PS: This is all in an effort to have a usable UEFI BIOS inside Windows on the ssd, and still be able to install a different Linux system frequently on the mechanical HDD with no conflicts between the two OS's.

My build: i5 2500k cpu, ASRock Ext3Gen3 Z68 mobo, 8 GB (2x4GB) Corsair Vng 1600 1.5v low-profile RAM, Corsair GS 700 psu, gtx 560 Ti gpu (undecided), CM Hyper 212 plus hsf, WD Caviar Black 750 GB Sata2, CM Elite 310 case, 24" monitor (undecided)
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January 19, 2012 12:11:24 AM

Best answer selected by spankmon.
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a c 328 V Motherboard
January 19, 2012 6:39:37 AM

This topic has been closed by Nikorr.
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