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Intel Z97 Express: Five Enthusiast Motherboards, $120 To $160

Overclocking

We conducted our general benchmarks with a brand new Core i7-4790. But overclocking tests require switching back to our faithful Core i7-4770K. Using that processor, 4.60 GHz is the ragged edge of stability at 1.25 V, and any greater voltage causes it to throttle under full load. It’s not clocked higher when it’s throttled.

Most of the motherboards in today’s round-up successfully reach the full measure of our processor’s overclocking capability. Gigabyte comes up a little short, but that could seriously be the difference of a few millivolts that might not impact other builders with different overclocking needs.

Conversely, the Z79X Gaming 5 reached the highest base clock frequency when using the 100 MHz strap. That’s the only ratio available on multiplier-locked processors, so this might be important to anyone running the new Core i7-4790.

ECS wasn’t the company that ran into memory trouble after receiving an award from us, yet its L337 Gaming is the trailing brand in our memory overclocking test. The Z97-A was happy with our DDR3-2800 XMP settings, but wouldn’t let us overclock. And the Z97 Gaming 5 roughly matches the Z97 Extreme4 depending on the number of modules installed.

  • onover
    The table detailing the motherboard features on page 1 ... Is it just me, or is the text a bit small?
    Reply
  • makishima
    The table detailing the motherboard features on page 1 ... Is it just me, or is the text a bit small?
    I find it small
    Reply
  • Someone Somewhere
    I'd like to see a review on the significance of the 'killer' NICs... I highly doubt they have any difference besides branding.
    Reply
  • SteelCity1981
    so intel it seems doesn't have much faith in their own thunderbolt considering there is no thunderbolt ports on this new chipset!
    Reply
  • H4X3R
    The Asrock one is better. Not everyone will be using XSplit, and as tradesman1 (a moderator on this site) said "I myself won't touch MSI mobos due to the poor QC".
    Reply
  • Crashman
    13285086 said:
    so intel it seems doesn't have much faith in their own thunderbolt considering there is no thunderbolt ports on this new chipset!
    READ PAGE ONE to find out why this chipset has the same features as the previous chipset.

    Reply
  • H4X3R
    Good review :) I am looking forward to the best price:features motherboard review though (extreme6). I have a quick question crashman: Do asrock still use Capxxon caps (or just crappy caps in general). I would like to know the company of the caps if possible, once again, thank you :)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    13285142 said:
    Good review :) I am looking forward to the best price:features motherboard review though (extreme6). I have a quick question crashman: Do asrock still use Capxxon caps (or just crappy caps in general). I would like to know the company of the caps if possible, once again, thank you :)
    I wish I knew. It appears that they get their caps custom-wrapped to get the gold color, and that the custom wrapping only has specifications (no branding).

    Reply
  • tarkhein
    I'd like to see a review on the significance of the 'killer' NICs... I highly doubt they have any difference besides branding.

    Not exactly the most comprehensive review, but here is Asus' take on NICs: http://rog.asus.com/312772014/labels/guides/tried-and-tested-why-intel-ethernet-is-still-better-for-gaming/
    Reply
  • Someone Somewhere
    Of course, they're testing throughput, and latency is what is generally considered to matter.
    Reply