Easy tuning in Windows
Gigabyte continues to improve the revamped collection of Windows tweaking utilities that debuted with its 8-series motherboards. This suite covers overclocking, power tuning, and fan controls, among other functions. The interface is relatively nice, with subdued colors and an original look.
The EasyTune utility lets newbies choose between pre-baked overclocking profiles and an automated tuner that increases clock speeds iteratively. These auto-overclocking routines can also help enthusiasts by setting a solid starting point for manual tuning. Or that's the theory, anyway. We'll see how the various approaches pan out in our overclocking section on the next page.
EasyTune's advanced menus are filled with mouse-friendly sliders and drop-down menus. Gigabyte covers the bases nicely, and most values can be entered directly with the keyboard.
The utility's old fan speed controls have relocated to a separate utility dubbed System Information Viewer. And they're excellent.
First, you'll want to run the built-in calibrator, which tests the range of available speeds for each connected fan. Then, you can click and drag five points along separate profiles for each one. The profiles work with both three- and four-pin fans, and the configuration process is pretty painless. All Gigabyte needs to do is replicate this functionality in the firmware.
The System Information Viewer is appropriately named for its other task, which is monitoring system variables. One component includes configurable warning thresholds for fan speeds and system temperatures, while another logs those variables in addition to voltages. Logs can be saved for historical reference, but there's no way to export them to other applications.
A couple of other utilities are worth mentioning, including the Fast Boot app.
In addition to covering a couple of boot options, this utility can reboot the system directly into the firmware. The interface is ginormous for what it does, though, and it downplays the most valuable function. Most enthusiasts will reboot into the firmware more frequently than they alter fast-boot settings.
Gigabyte's 9-series boards also come with a new Cloud Station application that hooks into a mobile sidekick available for Android and iOS. In theory, the Windows and mobile apps are supposed to cooperate to enable remote tweaking and system monitoring. The Android app detects my test machine without issue, but it produces a "Get OC Data Fail" error message when I try to launch the remote overclocking interface. Cloud Station's remote keyboard and media controls don't work for me, either.
Some mobile mobo software is gimmicky, but being able to monitor and control select system variables remotely is definitely valuable. I hope Gigabyte can fix that aspect of Cloud Station, at least. The remote input and file-sharing features are less interesting, mostly because similar functionality is covered by other mobile apps already.
Gigabyte says it's trying to reproduce our Cloud Station issues, but we haven't received word on the company's progress. We'll update this review when we do.
Now, let's see how well the Z97X-UD5H overclocks.
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