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Intel’s Z77 Express And Lucidlogix MVP: New Features For Gamers

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge): 3.40 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 1155
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
Z77 MotherboardMSI Z77A-GD65: Intel Z77 Express, BIOS V10.2 (02-27-2012)
Z68 MotherboardMSI Z68A-GD80: Intel Z68 Express, BIOS V18.8 (01/16/2012)
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD (16 GB), DDR3-2200 at DDR3-1600 CAS 9, 1.60 V
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB 772 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4008
Main Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series 256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
2nd Hard DriveMushkin Chronos Deluxe 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s 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 295.73 WHQL
Virtu MVP Version2.1.110
Lucid Virtu Version1.2.103
ChipsetIntel INF 9.3.0.1019

MSI sent its Z77A-GD65 for a preview a while back, but hardware issues prevented us from using it in a timely manner. Its replacement returns for today’s launch article.

Mushkin’s Chronos Deluxe hasn’t made it into our reference system yet, but it’s more than fast enough to test Intel’s new USB 3.0 controller.

Carried over from our 2010 pocket enclosure round-up, the ASMedia ASM1051 controller of Bytecc’s HD6-SU3 provides a necessary conversion to USB 3.0 for our controller test.

We mentioned a hardware issue that prevented the publication of our preview. That issue was the failure of our old and frequently-tortured Core i7-2600k CPU. ASRock helped us out (and indirectly, its competitor) by sending a replacement. It took a second CPU failure to determine that the motherboard was damaged, so MSI replaced both the motherboard and the second processor.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
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
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.4.27, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25 Seconds Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Detail Defaults (8x AA, 8x AF) Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Detail Defaults (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)
MediaEspresso 6.5Version 6.5.1210_33281: 1080i HDTV (449MB) to iPad H.264, 1024x768
MediaConverter 7Version7.1.0.68: 1080i HDTV (449MB) to iPad, SmartFit profile
HandBrake CLIVersion 0.95: "Big Buck Bunny" (720x480, 23.972 FPS) 5 Minutes, Audio: Dolby Digital, 48000 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, 2 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 4.1: 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
  • Yuka
    Wasn't the MVP software to account for the "dips" in performance for discrete video cards?

    Could you guys provide a video showing the differences between a run with the MVP and without? With V-Sync on also.

    Nice review, BTW. Thanks for it 8)

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • aicom
    You bolded PCIE 2.0 for Panther Point but forgot to change it to PCIE 3.0
    Reply
  • confish21
    Tom, should we expect much of an advantage when ivy bridge is used?

    IB and z77 VS. IB and z68?
    Reply
  • s3anister
    On page three you label the MSI Z68A-GD80 motherboard as Intel Z77 Express when it should obviously be Z68.

    Made me do a double take!
    Reply
  • s3anister
    confish21Tom, should we expect much of an advantage when ivy bridge is used?IB and z77 VS. IB and z68?
    Don't expect them to tell you, they're still under Intel's NDA.
    Reply
  • nebun
    is this a joke? we need to have at lease 2 pcie lanes at 16x speed for serious gaming...2 lanes at 8x will be bringing down your true capability of the graphic cards...thanks but not thanks...i will stick with my x58 chip for now
    Reply
  • jaquith
    aicomYou bolded PCIE 2.0 for Panther Point but forgot to change it to PCIE 3.0No, the Z77 and all Panther Point chipest are indeed 8x lanes of PCIe 2.0, so Thomas's article is correct. Don't confuse GPU PCIe lanes with Chipset PCIe lanes. However, Thomas knows that I too 'wish' the LGA 1155 was PCIe 3.0 clean, it sure would help with other chipset 'sharing' issues (bottlenecks).
    Reply
  • josejones
    Where's the performance increase with the z77 over the z68? The new features are a plus but, previews I've seen so far suggest that the z77's are slower than the z68.

    What's up with that? Do the z77's require the Ivy Bridge CPU to take full advantage? Sounds like possible driver and/or most likely BIOS issues as others have pointed out elsewhere on page 2 of the z77 Motherboard Discussion thread.
    Reply
  • tmk221
    This Lucidlogix Virtu software looks very promising. Certainly it needs a lot of improvment but I think that they will do good job having intel as a partner
    Reply
  • thehidecheck
    nebunis this a joke? we need to have at lease 2 pcie lanes at 16x speed for serious gaming...2 lanes at 8x will be bringing down your true capability of the graphic cards...thanks but not thanks...i will stick with my x58 chip for nowpoppycock, even high end cards can't even come close to saturateing a 8x slot
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFMzRZqFh-w get learned yo
    Reply