Z77 Stinger Firmware
The Z77 Stinger’s overclocking menu looks very basic compared to previous EVGA products, but we still found every setting we needed to push our CPU to its limit. Unfortunately, its limit on this particular samples was a modest 4.3 GHz.
Arguably, one of the reasons for that low overclock was our conservative 1.25 V core voltage setting. And yet, competing products were able to get an extra 200 MHz at the same voltage. We tried for a little more frequency through BCLK manipulation, but didn't have much luck.
Base clock frequencies reach as high as 300 MHz in EVGA's firmware, but we were barely able to push an additional 1 MHz. That adjustment also required us to select the "Apply Settings" function beneath it.
Limited to a maximum DDR3-2133 setting, the Z77 Stinger wasn't able to detect the XMP settings of our DDR3-2666 memory. We were, however, able to run at the board’s maximum DDR3-2133 setting without needing to manually adjust to the memory's rated timings.
All of the Z77 Stinger’s overclocking limitations appear to be the result of a BIOS that isn't quite "there" yet. You can bet we'll keep this board readily accessible in the lab should something big happen on the firmware front.
That technology is available from MSI and Asrock (and Gigabyte, but that's irrelevant in this roundup). Look up MSI i-Charger and Asrock App Charger.
There was a big discussion between editors over whether or not the P8Z77-I Deluxe should get an award. The only award for "best features" is Tom's Hardware Approved, and that award is reserved for products that are clearly and obviously superior. The P8Z77-I Deluxe was a better board, but we had to look fairly hard to see it (it wasn't clear or obvious).
CrashmanLOL, welcome to Windows 8.
How about using Windows 7? Was a reason you HAD to use 8 despite encountering issues? Is there some contractual obligation or monetary incentive to use the lastest version regardless of performance issues? Or at least test them both, it's only 4 motherboards.
It's not like the 80s/90s where you needed a full size AT/ATX motherboard with many slots for the ST-506 controller, floppy disk controller, serial port, parallel port, Sound Blaster card, VGA card, token ring card, and an extra cooling fan.
I will later get a Mini-ITX later & Silverstone case, stick in a Noctua NH-C12P & Haswell i7, and my Nv 680. That will have very high power density and worthy of being my "main" PC. (and it will OC)