MSI's EFI BIOS

Introduction

Introduction

The BIOS has been used by motherboard manufacturers for what seems like decades. It's the mysterious place that the average user wouldn't dream of entering, but where hardcore overclockers and enthusiasts alike seem to spend their lives.

As computers get more and more advanced, the BIOS gets more and more cramped, with pages full of options and readouts. With all the advances in every area of the PC, it's about time the BIOS got an upgrade - enter EFI.

EFI stands for Extensible Firmware Interface, and was first introduced in the server industry, where the BIOS was seen to be too restrictive.  Now that this new type of firmware is coming to mainstream/desktop boards, MSI were kind enough to send us a sample of one of their boards loaded with the EFI firmware.

EFI is essentially a processing layer between the BIOS and the OS. The BIOS system is still used to power on and POST the system, but then the EFI takes over and provides a slick user interface.

EFI offers a number of improvements over a standard BIOS. Input is no longer limited to the keyboard, and the mouse/cursor is now used for input and navigation, making it much quicker and easier to access the setting you want. EFI also uses a full graphical user interface (GUI), with buttons and drop-downs, allowing the developer to tinker and tweak it in many more ways, as well as presenting data in a far nicer way.

EFI also has much more opportunity for expansion when compared to the legacy BIOS. Some recent Asus motherboards have shipped with Express Gate, which enables access to the internet and files in a few seconds. MSI have shown similar possibilities with EFI, with a Messenger and web browser in the pipeline, as well as many other add-ons. This internet access through the firmware also has other plus points - no longer do you need to go into Windows to download the latest updates, but simply download them from within EFI.

Enough of the small talk, read on to find out how it performs.
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Most Recent Comments

07-02-2009, 09:07:51

Luigi
Are your eyes hurting from long hours of scanning through the BIOS for that extra mhz or two. Then MSI may have something for you.

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...175737264s.jpg

Read on here

07-02-2009, 09:34:38

Kerotan
Wow, that looks pretty cool, I've got expressgate on my P5Q-E and it would be good if someone released something which was like a combination of the two, it's great being able to check something on the net in a hurry without booting into windows.

07-02-2009, 09:38:26

AntiHeroUK
I've actually had this on my MSI P45 Platinum for a couple of weeks. It's extremely simple to use, and it looks great. I'm interested to see how they will develop this for the future. What it really needs now is an Internet browser

07-02-2009, 09:41:12

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
I've actually had this on my MSI P45 Platinum for a couple of weeks. It's extremely simple to use, and it looks great. I'm interested to see how they will develop this for the future. What it really needs now is an Internet browser
Ooh, thats interesting.. What did you use to flash yours? Following the MSI instructions instructions didnt work on ours (it came pre-flashed, but we tried a dummy flash to test it worked)?

07-02-2009, 09:51:25

AntiHeroUK
I used a memory stick on which I had installed DOS so I could boot from it. Then I put the BIOS files on the stick, powered on, booted from stick and typed msiflash "bios name" /p. It worked it's magic and I rebooted.

07-02-2009, 09:56:55

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
I used a memory stick on which I had installed DOS so I could boot from it. Then I put the BIOS files on the stick, powered on, booted from stick and typed msiflash "bios name" /p. It worked it's magic and I rebooted.
oooh, MSI dont mention that... where do you get the dos for the mem stick?

07-02-2009, 10:38:24

AntiHeroUK
You will need the following HP utility to make your drive bootable and you will also need these system files.

HP USB storage format tool

System Files

Install the program and extract the system files. Run the program and make sure you have FAT32 selected. Select the "Quick format option" and the "Create a DOS startup disk" option. Now select "Using DOS system files located at:" and point it to the system files folder. Then click "Start".

Then your drive is good to go. Just copy the BIOS files on to it

07-02-2009, 10:48:40

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
You will need the following HP utility to make your drive bootable and you will also need these system files.

HP USB storage format tool

System Files

Install the program and extract the system files. Run the program and make sure you have FAT32 selected. Select the "Quick format option" and the "Create a DOS startup disk" option. Now select "Using DOS system files located at:" and point it to the system files folder. Then click "Start".

Then your drive is good to go. Just copy the BIOS files on to it
Thanks a lot dude.. MSI dont tell you how to do the DOS thing at all..

07-02-2009, 10:55:07

AntiHeroUK
No prob mate

07-02-2009, 17:46:32

premiumgfx
Looks great! I've always been wondering why companies don't make the BIOS more user friendly. Now I need an MSI mainboard to use it on.

07-02-2009, 19:29:54

AntiHeroUK
Luigi did you have speakers plugged in when testing it? If so you will have heard the annoying noise it makes when you click back

07-02-2009, 20:15:27

Diablo
This seems quite similar to Asus Express gate, which is an internet and email program built on a very light linux core which allows booting in 5 secs. Not quite the same, but i think we will start to see a lot of these GUIs that are a bit easier on the eye on boot.

08-02-2009, 06:22:08

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='AntiHeroUK'
Luigi did you have speakers plugged in when testing it? If so you will have heard the annoying noise it makes when you click back
I did but I use an x-fi so I dont think it the EFI supports it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Diablo'
This seems quite similar to Asus Express gate, which is an internet and email program built on a very light linux core which allows booting in 5 secs. Not quite the same, but i think we will start to see a lot of these GUIs that are a bit easier on the eye on boot.
Yup, its certainly a step in the right direction. The layout in EFI makes it much easier for clocking etc, with all the options nicely laid out.

08-02-2009, 08:02:18

w3bbo
I would hope EFI supports XFI as a lot of the high end MSI boards come with XFI based cards.

08-02-2009, 08:15:35

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
I would hope EFI supports XFI as a lot of the high end MSI boards come with XFI based cards.
It didnt for me this time :S Or I certainly wasnt aware of it...

08-02-2009, 10:22:31

de_lenni
that looks sweet!

i always get a headache from the oldskool bios blue and white...

this is really user friendly it seems

only downside is that it only is for those three MSI boards, would be better if it was also for the I7 based boards was.

08-02-2009, 10:24:34

Luigi
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='de_lenni'
that looks sweet!

i always get a headache from the oldskool bios blue and white...

this is really user friendly it seems

only downside is that it only is for those three MSI boards, would be better if it was also for the I7 based boards was.
An X58 EFI board is in the works apparently

08-02-2009, 17:03:52

Rastalovich
There are a bunch of "non-establishment" efis out there for doing some stuff that are pushing to work on every make of mobo.

To this point they've been working to install the firmware to a usb device, like a flash drive, that can be attached to an internal usb header - and turns ur 'pc' into whatever the device wants the software to think it is.

I know a particular one that is claiming to be on sale, but I only know of a few confirmed deliveries. What it did is turned the 'pc' into another particularly well known fruity personal computer, and the software couldn't tell the difference.

Interesting stuff. I still maintain people like nvidia and ati should be pushing these for full manufactured pcs with a whole internet/gaming machine with no-need for a typical OS.
Reply
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