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 Z87-Deluxe Dual board with a Core i7-4770K CPU at both stock and overclocked speeds. For the stock clocks, I used the memory’s XMP profile. For the overclock, I used the auto overclocking features provided by the TPU switch on the motherboard. This motherboard is the first ASUS motherboard I’ve seen where the TPU switch has two settings, flagged by green (setting 1) and yellow (setting 2) LEDs.
Obviously what the TPU settings are will depend on your CPU. For my Core i7-4770K, the settings were:
TPU1: Strap 100, 43x multiplier for 1 or 2 cores, 42x for three cores, and 41x for four cores. XMP profile selected for memory. Load-line calibration and power phase both set to “Extreme”.
TPU2: Strap 125, multiplier 34x for 4.250GHz on all cores. Power settings the same as with TPU1, but the memory was run at its default 1333MHz due to the strap change.
I also included results from the highest manual overclock I could achieve, which as I know from experience with this processor is a strap of 100 and a 45x multiplier on all cores. 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 Z87-Deluxe Dual with BIOS 1305
- Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K “Haswell” CPU
- System Memory: 8G (2x4G) DDR3-1600 at 9-9-9-24 timings
- Video Card: AMD Radeon HD6850
- CPU Cooler: Thermalright Silver Arrow
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium x64
- AIDA64 v3.00.2500
- SPECViewPerf 11
- x264HD 5.0
I’ll start with synthetic benchmarks in the next section.