Synthetic & Productivity Benchmarks
We recently built a new Z270 reference system for use in our desktop gaming PC reviews, with an Intel Core i7-7700K (clocked at its stock 4.2 GHz with a 4.5 GHz max turbo frequency in lightly threaded applications) in an ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming i7 ATX motherboard cooled by a Deepcool Gammaxx 400 heatsink and 120mm blue LED fan. We have a 16GB (2x8GB) kit of Kingston HyperX Savage DDR4-2133 memory running at the standard CAS latency of 15-15-15-36, and EVGA hooked us up with a set of the top-end Founder’s Edition graphics cards (a GTX 1080 Ti, 1080, and 1070) and a 1000W PSU to power it all. We use data from the GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080 for this review, and we run the GPUs at their respective default base and boost clock frequencies. You can check out the full specifications of our beastly test rig below.
Test System Configuration
We also include data from our recent review of the Xidax X-6, which comes in about $800 cheaper but has a Core i7 processor and a GTX 1070 GPU under the hood. We don’t expect it to compete with Steiger’s GTX 1080 Ti and Core i5-7600K-powered platform in a framerate contest in our gaming benchmark suite, but it will give us a good indicator of when hyperthreading (the primary difference between a Core i5 and a Core i7 processor) is advantageous in CPU-intensive workloads, with both the Xidax and Steiger’s review samples sporting a CPU overclock of 4.8 GHz.
The Steiger Dynamics Era Reference features a Core i5-7600K overclocked to an all-core frequency of 4.8 GHz. Its 16GB (2x8GB) kit of DDR4-3000 features a CAS latency of 16-18-18-38, and it should provide above-average memory performance with its higher frequency. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founder’s Edition’s core clock is boosted by 120 MHz using MSI Afterburner, and the company also pushed the memory clock up by 200 MHz. This gives the GPU inside the Era a boost clock of 1702 MHz and an effective memory data rate of 11.4 Gbps.
The Steiger Dynamics Era Reference starts our benchmark suite off with a moderate bang in the 3DMark Fire Strike tests. Despite its CPU and GPU overclock, the Era trails our stock-clocked Core i7-7700K/GTX 1080 Ti reference system thanks to a lower Physics score (CPU performance), which is to be expected. However, it still manages to net the highest Combined score in the 1080p synthetic workload by a substantial margin.
Fire Strike Extreme and Ultra place the Era at the top of the class, maintaining the highest Graphics and Combined scores throughout the tests but also trailing the pack in the Physics portion of the benchmark. Time Spy’s DX12 API repeats these findings, with the Era ahead in the overall Score and Graphics tests, but significantly behind in the CPU test.
Switching to a CPU-specific benchmark, we aren’t surprised to see the Core i7-7700K-equipped reference system and the Xidax X-6 completely blow away the Core-i5 Steiger offering in multi-threaded rendering performance. The X-6 also manages to edge out the Era Reference in single-threaded rendering and OpenGL shading workloads; its overclocked Core i7-7700K matches the Era’s Core i5-7600K core frequency, but it manages to push ahead by a small margin.
Compubench shows us that an overclock can go a long way on a GTX 1080 Ti, with the Steiger Dynamics Era Reference leading the field with the highest Video Processing and Bitcoin mining score. An overclock of 120 MHz nets about 85 MH/s compared to our reference rig with a stock-clocked Founder’s Edition, and we also see the Video Processing results improve by roughly 11 FPS.
The Era’s 500GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD is fast, significantly faster than our reference system’s 960GB SATA SSD and the X-6’s 512GB SATA SSD. The 4K read and write IOPs reaches over 100K each, and the 128K sequential performance is downright impressive, with the Era achieving 1893.56 MB/s reads and 1675.01 MB/s writes. SATA storage devices just can’t compete against NVMe drives of this caliber; it’s like bringing a knife to a bazooka fight.
Sandra Memory Bandwidth
The Steiger Dynamics Era Reference once again predictably tops the chart with its higher memory frequency (3000 MHz), which provides a higher peak memory bandwidth over our test rig’s DDR4-2133 and the X-6’s DDR4-2666.
With its higher memory frequency, overclocked CPU, and speedy storage, the Era Reference achieves an excellent score in the PCMark 8 Adobe application test. However, the Microsoft Office application tests are slightly less receptive to the Era’s Core i5-7600K, which falls behind the Core i7-equipped PCs in the lineup.
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