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Test Settings And Benchmarks

Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed
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Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E): 3.60 GHz, 15 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 2011
CPU CoolerSwiftech Apogee GTX, MCP 655b, Triple-Fan Radiator Kit
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-2200
Benchmarked at 4 x 4 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 9 defaults
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008
Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series MZ5PA256HMDR, 256 GB SSD 
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 285.62
ChipsetIntel INF 9.2.3.1020


Resurrected and repurposed for the LGA 2011 interface, Swiftech’s Apogee GTX kit keeps our CPU temperature well below the 91-degree Celsius thermal throttling ceiling under every test condition. We added an SFF21D cooling fan above the water block to assist voltage regulator and DRAM cooling.

G.Skills Ripjaws DDR3-2200 allows us to test the overclocking capabilities of each motherboard using one module per channel, and the basic performance of each board at default DDR3-1600 SPD values. The firm sent a second set for our eight-DIMM tests, using the same ICs but different XMP values.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 580 pushes our CPU limits under games, enhancing small performance deficits that some motherboards occasionally exhibit.

Samsung’s MZPA256HMDR 256 GB SSD keeps load times and idle power low.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
DiRT 3V1.01, Run with -benchmark example_benchmark.xml
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Metro 2033Full Game, Built-In Benchmark, "Frontline" Scene
Test Set 1: DX11, High, AAA, 4x AF, No PhysX, No DoF
Test Set 2: DX11, Very High, 4x AA, 16x AF, No PhysX, DoF On
StarCraft IIVersion 1.4.1.19776, Tom's Hardware custom map
Test Set 1: Medium Details, No AA, 8x AF
Test Set 2: Highest Details, 8x AA, 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 10.4.1.10 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.95: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48 000 Hz, Six-Channel, English, to Video: AVC Audio: AC3 Audio2: AAC (High Profile)
MainConcept ReferenceVersion: 2.2.0.5440: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
Adobe Photoshop CS5Version 12.1 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
WinZipVersion 15.5 Pro: THG-Workload (464 MB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.01: THG-Workload (464 MB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.22: THG-Workload (464 MB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.82: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
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