ASRock B85M-DGS And H81M-HDS Firmware
The B85M-DGS and H81M-HDS functionally share the same BIOS and applications, so I'll cover both boards on one page. The UEFI is more or less the same as Thomas' last ASRock review.
The Main screen gives you a brief summary of the current configuration. The Advanced tab contains more in-depth settings, such as storage configuration, enabling/disabling on-board features and CPU-specific settings (like C-states).
The Tools tab includes some nifty utilities to help you manage the motherboard. The UEFI Tech Support option lets you send an email directly to ASRock without booting to an OS. Enthusiasts building fresh PCs will appreciate the Easy Driver Installer that can load the network driver and then check online for any updated motherboard drivers. You also have an Internet Flash utility that can check for BIOS updates on ASRock's servers, download and then install them. Of course, you can still flash the BIOS from USB by downloading it onto any FAT16/32 thumb drive. Both options allow you to skip creating a bootable USB drive. You also have three profiles for saving and loading BIOS settings, helpful for quickly switching between heavy overclocks and tamer daily driver settings.
The H/W Monitor section gives you a quick rundown of current temps, fan speeds and voltages. You can also configure the two four-pin fan headers for customized performance. ASRock gives you four settings for each fan: Silent, Standard, Performance and Full Speed. You can also create your own five-point curve.
At the top of the OC Tweaker tab, you're given some automatic overclock settings called Advanced Turbo and Non-Z OC for 3.8, 4.0, 4.2 and 4.4 GHz, as well as iGPU overclocking. The settings 3.8GHz @ 1.15V and 4GHz @ 1.2V settings are perfectly usable, but 4.2 GHz wants 1.28V and 4.4 GHz configures 1.48V! Thankfully, that top option is highlighted in red. Underneath, you'll find the finer control settings. Most everything you'd expect to find on a more premium Z board, you'll find here. That includes core multipliers, per-core settings, voltages and offsets. You won't find BCLK adjustments, but I'm not going to complain about that on such an affordable board.
Due to our Pentium G3258, RAM frequency is capped at 1400 MT/s, but primary, secondary and tertiary timings and voltages are all available for manual configuration.
The A-Tune Windows application is the same as it was in the X99M Extreme4 review. You'll see the usual XFast RAM and XFast LAN utilities for RAM disks and network packet optimization, FAN-Tastic for tuning your fan curves and System Info, which mirrors the BIOS hardware monitor.
As mentioned, the CPU multiplier doesn't respond in the OC Tweaker section. Changing the multiplier doesn't do anything if you haven't already overclocked your CPU in the UEFI or turned on the Advanced Turbo or Non-Z Overclock settings in A-Tune (which are just mirrors for the same settings in the UEFI). Even if you have overclocked, you can only lower the multiplier. Doing this returns the CPU to its stock setting, but occasionally boosts the multiplier level, as if adding Turbo Boost, which the Pentium G3258 isn't supposed to have.
A-Tune does have a nifty Auto Tuning feature under the Performance section. Instead of using a preset voltage and multiplier, it slowly ramps up the CPU, calculating voltage and thermal readings to find the ideal settings for your board and CPU. It's not perfect, but it does pretty well. And at the very least, it can help you zero in on the best settings for your particular silicon.