Motherboard Testing Methodology
After a few years of testing motherboards, I’ve noticed that motherboards based on the same chipset tend to have very similar performance. This wasn’t always the case, but now that the memory controller’s in the processor, and the PCI-E lanes are in the chipset, it’s not surprising that everyone’s “Y22” chipset motherboard performs pretty much alike…at stock settings, anyway. Haswell collapses the field even further by moving voltage regulation circuitry onto the CPU. Say goodbye to those exotic 24-phase CPU power supplies of yore…
So testing motherboards, unlike testing CPUs or video cards, is more about examining the proprietary features that make one different from another, as well as testing a board’s overclocking ability, especially if it’s marketed to the enthusiast community.
I tested the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z87 board with a Core i7-4770K CPU at both stock and overclocked speeds. For the overclock, I used the auto overclocking feature built into the BIOS as well as the highest manual overclock I could achieve. I included the benchmark results from the stock-clocked MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard with the same CPU, memory, video card, and disk for comparison.
- Motherboard: ASUS SABERTOOTH Z87 with BIOS 1007
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K “Haswell” CPU
- System Memory: 8G (2x4G) Kingston HyperX Genesis DDR3-1600 KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX at 9-9-9-27 timings
- Video Card: AMD Radeon HD6850
- CPU Cooler: Thermalright Silver Arrow
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium x64
- AIDA64 v2.99.2446 (Beta version for Haswell CPUs)
- SPECViewPerf 11
- x264HD 5.0
I’ll start with synthetic benchmarks in the next section.