While Asus spent a lot of time on its user-configurable UEFI start page, the most interesting settings are still found in the firmware’s Advanced menus. The company prepared a video walk-through that outlines its efforts.
The Asus Ai Tweaker menu offers separate manual and XMP modes, which are virtually identical, except that XMP overclocking mode starts with an XMP-based memory overclock. You can still change memory multiplier and timings, even after enabling an XMP profile.
The Z87-Plus eagerly pushed our CPU to 4.7 GHz at 1.3 V, though we recently discovered that tests heavily optimized for AVX cause thermal throttling at that voltage. Dropping to 1.25 V, the processor was stable at 4.6 GHz.
Because Intel's fourth-gen Core processors don't support 30 x 100 MHz memory ratios, the Z87-Plus configures our XMP-3000 profile using an increased base clock rate paired with a DDR3-2933 ratio (22 x 133 MHz). We eventually topped the memory’s maximum data rate at 1.65 V by reaching DDR3-3021. In the words of Jim Carrey in The Mask, smokin'!
The Z87-Plus adds slightly more than 25 mV to whatever memory voltage setting you specify, so we dropped to 1.625 V. Our meter showed between 1.651 to 1.654 volts after making that change.
Primary, secondary, and tertiary timings can be individually switched between automatic and manual configuration. We lock in our memory’s primary timings during overclocking tests.
The Haswell architecture's fully integrated voltage regulator makes it impossible to apply traditional CPU load-line calibration. Asus compensates somewhat by adjusting VCCIN. We achieved stability there by choosing the board’s "Level 2" Load-line Calibration setting.
Other overclocking options include Auto OC By Ratio and Auto OC By BCLK. The first method raised our CPU multipliers to 41-42-43-43x (4.1 to 4.3 GHz, depending on utilization) at stock voltage, and picked a data rate of DDR3-2400 at 1.65 V. The second method used a fixed CPU multiplier of 34x and a DRAM multiplier of 20x, with a 125 MHz base clock pushing the CPU core to 4.25 MHz at stock-voltage and DRAM to DDR3-2500 at 1.65 V.
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.