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 Intel DZ87KLT-75K board with a Core i7-4770K CPU at both stock and overclocked speeds. Intel doesn’t have any auto-overclocking or auto-tuning features, so my 4.4GHz overclock was entirely manual. I included the benchmark results from the stock-clocked MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX and ASUS GRYPHON Z87 motherboards with the same CPU, memory, video card, and disk for comparison.
- Motherboard: Intel DZ87KLT-75K 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 v3.00.2514 (Beta version for Haswell CPUs)
- SPECViewPerf 11
- x264HD 5.0
I’ll start with synthetic benchmarks in the next section.