How We Tested
Because Intel’s Broadwell-based desktop parts are compatible with its existing LGA 1150 interface, we didn’t need any special pre-production platforms to test it. We simply sought out an early firmware update to one of the recent additions to our reference collection: MSI’s Z97A Gaming 6.
This board employs familiar core logic, and is subject to the limitations of Intel’s 16-lane PCIe controller and PCIe 2.0-capable Z97 PCH. Still, MSI manages to set this platform apart by giving it USB 3.1 support through a Type-C port on the I/O panel, powered by ASMedia’s ASM1142. The company also exposes SATA Express connectivity and PCIe-based M.2, opening the door to higher-performance storage.
Although MSI touts the overclockability of its memory subsystem (claiming DDR3 data rates of up to 3200 MT/s), we’re more interested in the board’s ability to support lower-voltage DDR3L modules. G.Skill sent over its F3-12800CL9D-8GBXM kit. A 1600 MT/s data rate at CAS9 is ideal if you’re looking to match Broadwell’s specifications. A 1.35V rating also plays an important role in keeping these CPUs’ memory controller in-spec.
Most of the benchmarks from today's story were run by Tom's Hardware DE, using the same hardware that goes into generating our 2015 CPU Charts. In addition to desktop performance analysis, we also go into depth on power consumption, thermals and alacrity in workstation-oriented applications.
|AMD Motherboards||MSI 970 GamingMSI A88XM GamingMSI K9A2 Platinum V2MSI AM1|
|Intel Motherboards||MSI Z99S XPOWER ACMSI Z97A Gaming 6MSI Z97 Gaming 7MSI Z87 XPowerMSI X79 BIG BANG-XPOWER IIMSI Z77 GD55MSI Z68A GD65 (G3)|
|CPU Cooling||Rajintek Triton 360Noiseblocker eLoop @1500 RPM|
|System Memory||Corsair DDR3-2133 Dominator Platnum (BCLK 100)Corsair DDR4-2400 Dominator Platnum (BCLK 100)Transcend DDR3L-1600 (Broadwell)|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic Platinum 860W|
|Test Bench||Lian Li PC-T80 Bench-Table|
|Operating System||Windows 8.1 Professional x64|
|Discrete Graphics||Palit GeForce GTX 980 OC|
|Measurement Equipment||2 x HAMEG HMO 3054, 500MHz multi-channel oscilloscope with storage function4 x HAMEG HZO50 current probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC)4 x HAMEG HZ355 (10:1 probes, 500MHz)1 x HAMEG HMC8012 digital multimeter with storage function1 x Optris PI450 80Hz infrared camera and PI Connect|