Test Settings And Benchmarks
|Test System Configuration|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.5-3.9 GHz, 8 MB L3 Cache, LGA 1150|
|CPU Cooler||Thermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste|
|RAM||G.Skill F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD (8 GB) at DDR3-1600 C9 DefaultsG.Skill F3-3000C12D-8GTXDG (8 GB) at XMP-3000 C12 Timings|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500|
|Hard Drive||Samsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Power||Corsair AX860i: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64|
|Graphics||AMD Catalyst 13.4|
|Chipset||Intel INF 184.108.40.2067|
We were almost surprised to find Thermalright’s classic MUX-120 competitive with our recent review of high-end heat sinks, even when using its original clip-on mounting system. It’s the ease of that mounting system that wins this tester over in motherboard round-ups, and the good performance points to a good design.
Alternatively, we can point to problems with the Core i7's heat spreader interface as a reason why much larger coolers couldn’t provide much better temperatures in that review.
G.Skill’s F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD is the only memory in this lab that defaults to our DDR3-1600 CAS 9 test standard. Faster RAM always uses slower defaults, and slower RAM requires XMP to get there. The problem is that some boards automatically enable other overclocking features when XMP is enabled. Consistency rules these tests.
We replaced the slower memory with G.Skill’s DDR3-3000 kit for our overclocking stability tests.
Corsair sent its 80 PLUS Plantinum-rated AX860i for our benchmark needs, citing enhanced support of C7 suspend mode.
|Adobe Creative Suite|
|Adobe After Effects CS6||Version 220.127.116.118 x64: Create Video which includes Three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly|
|Adobe Photoshop CS6||Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates|
|Adobe Premeire Pro CS6||Version 18.104.22.168, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality|
|iTunes||Version 22.214.171.124 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format|
|LAME MP3||Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)|
|HandBrake CLI||Version: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)|
|TotalCode Studio 2.5||Version: 126.96.36.19977: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV|
|ABBYY FineReader||Version 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages|
|Adobe Acrobat 11||Version 188.8.131.529: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2012||Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 2013||Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080|
|Blender||Version: 2.67b, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1|
|Visual Studio 2010||Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted|
|WinZip||Version 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"|
|WinRAR||Version 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"|
|7-Zip||Version 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"|
|Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings|
|3DMark 11||Version: 184.108.40.206, Benchmark Only|
|PCMark 8||Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test|
|SiSoftware Sandra||Version Version 2013.01.19.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark|
1- the x8x4x4 PCIe controller is a CPU feature in all i5 and i7. All the z*7 chipset does is unlock the CPU feature
2- same goes for multipliers on K-chips: CPU feature locked out by non-z*7 chipsets
3- SATA-6G ports do not really cost Intel any thing extra to put on-chip (little more than a PLL tweak to lock on faster signals), which makes it somewhat of a shame they aren't fully standard
4- USB3 ports do not cost Intel all that much extra either - maybe an extra square millimeter on silicon to upgrade all remaining USB2 ports to USB3
5- the DMI bus can only manage ~20Gbps so it will bottleneck if you attempt to use even 1/5th the total the connectivity available on z87
More connectivity, yes. But DMI lacks the muscle to actually stress that extra IO. As such, it is little more than a glorified SATA port replicator and USB hub.
I almost exclusively use Intel CPUs but it still annoys me how Intel charges extra for trivial things or unlock stuff they arbitrarily locked out just because they can.
In other words, they might be charging for stuff that should be free or should have been included all the way back in the Z68, but past omission doesn't negate current usefullness.
The market is flooded with tons of these Z87 motherboards and it can be very overwhelming researching them. So, hopefully we'll see a few more Z87 reviews from you guys, soon.
Would also like to see some powerful i7 builds built around more energy efficient components. That would be very interesting. Hint. :)
Rather surprised that Biostar had such a good board. Maybe it's time to start considering those boards for future builds.
It is great to see a round-up of the mainstream boards, though, so thanks!
Still does not change the fact that the only reason why Intel gets away with charging $10-15 extra for less than $1 worth of features while the DMI bus lacks the bandwidth to properly support them for people who may actually intend to use them is because they have a practical monopoly which allows them to arbitrarily fragment the market so they can artificially inflate prices.
The main reason most people go with z?7 is the overclock unlock for K-chips. That itself is the biggest joke since it is a completely artificial limitation Intel engineered into their products to enforce co-upselling. As shown with the h87 slip-up, the h87 is perfectly capable of managing multipliers on Haswell K-chips when the K-chip lacks the microcode to enforce the z87 unlock "requirement."
I don't bother with overclocking so this does not affect me... but it still annoys me on the basis of principles and general dislike for hair-splitting for profit.