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 Z87I-Deluxe 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 Tuning feature in AI Suite as well as the highest overclock I was able to hit manually.
When I overclock, I like to find the best performance I can get with all the cores synchronized– that is, all cores running the same multiplier. I know from previous experience with five other Z87 motherboards and this particular CPU that a multiplier of 45x, CPU strap of 100MHz, and core voltage of 1.3v is as high as I can reliably go with air cooling.
- Motherboard: ASUS Z87I-Deluxe with BIOS 0403
- 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
As comparison I used MSI’s Z87 MPOWER motherboard as well as ASUS’ own Z87-Deluxe Dual motherboard, both of which are full ATX boards. I’ll start with synthetic benchmarks in the next section.