For the past two weeks I have been shopping for a motherboard for a new testing computer. It has to have all or most of the latest technologies for a standard testing unit, just sufficient for what I do – reviewing Linux and BSD distributions, writing tutorials for same, and hold the potential of some day becoming a Hackintosh (yes, I will be revisiting my roots, computer-wise, soon).
One of the most important features I was looking for was support for the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, or UEFI (pronounced u-ay-phi). UEFI is the replacement for the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Both are firmware interfaces, but UEFI is new technology, while BIOS is old technology. Dual-booting does not seem to work the same on UEFI hardware as it does on BIOS system, hence the need for a UEFI motherboard.
So I shopped and shopped and compared options and eventually settled for a unit from ASRock, a Taiwanese company that makes computers and computer accessories.
The model I bought is the Z77 Pro4 with an Intel LG1155 chipset. It is not super powerful, but for a testing PC, it should serve its purpose (hopefully for a long time). Then I threw in an Intel Core i3 3220 CPU with support for wireless display technology. Not only does the motherboard has support for UEFI, but the UEFI Setup Utility is mouse-friendly. All those things you used to do with a keyboard on a BIOS interface, you can now accomplish from a point-and-click interface, and more. The screen shot below gives an example of what you can see from the UEFI Setup Utility.
From a security perspective, the most interesting feature of the UEFI Setup Utility is OMG (the Online Management Guard). It is a parental control system built into the motherboard. Neat. This is a unit I just bought yesterday, so I have not really tested this feature. In fact, I have not even installed any thing on the computer.
The gist of this article is if you use a distribution that does not have a good parental control system, and you need a good parental control system, this is the type of motherboard you would want to buy, if you want to build a new computer. More on this in a few days. Probably a short article on how I built a new testing unit for just $300.00 USD.