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Z87 Hits The High End: Four Sub-$300 Motherboards

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.5-3.9 GHz, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache, LGA 1150
CPU CoolerThermalright MUX-120 w/Zalman ZM-STG1 Paste
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD (8 GB) at DDR3-1600 C9 DefaultsG.Skill F3-3000C12D-8GTXDG (8 GB) at XMP-3000 C12 Timings
GraphicsAMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5500
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair AX860i: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 13.4
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017

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 that easy-to-mount mechanism that wins me 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 as a reason why larger coolers couldn’t give us significantly better thermal performance in that review.

G.Skill’s F3-17600CL9D-8GBXLD is the only memory kit in our 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 Haswell's C7 state.

Benchmark Settings
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video which includes Three Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 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)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 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 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: 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
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2012Version 14.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.67b, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.1.0, Benchmark Only
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion Version 2013.01.19.11, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • nekromobo
    How many do they think they are selling these boards? In the hundreds?
    Reply
  • vipervoid1
    Reviewer seems like not really like MSI ~
    Always favoring Asus, ASRock and Gigabyte ~
    No matter how less differences between each board ~
    MSI Motherboard , the reviewer never have comment ~

    I am a MSI brand fans , I admitted it , but the reviewer seems like ignored MSI's afford.
    Reply
  • vipervoid1
    And also dont have MSI software feature in the review ~
    Reply
  • slicedtoad
    Haswell motherboard guide: pick whichever looks best and has the right I/O. Performance-wise, they're all the same.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11638734 said:
    Reviewer seems like not really like MSI ~
    Always favoring Asus, ASRock and Gigabyte ~
    No matter how less differences between each board ~
    MSI Motherboard , the reviewer never have comment ~

    I am a MSI brand fans , I admitted it , but the reviewer seems like ignored MSI's afford.
    In the award contest between MSI and Gigabyte, Gigabyte would have probably won the award. The problem for Gigabyte is that it's new price is too cheap to compete in a $220-300 roundup.

    11638739 said:
    And also dont have MSI software feature in the review ~
    Let's take a look at the article:
    The Z87 MPower Max comes with the exact software suite and tuning application as its previously-reviewed sibling. Rather than repeat our analysis of those tools and utilities, we'll move on to the board’s firmware specifics.
    Let me see if the department of redundancy department has a better explanation.

    11638770 said:
    Haswell motherboard guide: pick whichever looks best and has the right I/O. Performance-wise, they're all the same.
    Correct. Pick on features, price, overclocking, warranty, criteria that best match your own preferences. The benchmarks only point out when someone is cheating in reviews or has a flaw. And why point out cheating? Because it's what some of these companies use to get their awards from OTHER sites, and someone has to dispel those myths.

    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    11638734 said:
    Reviewer seems like not really like MSI ~
    Always favoring Asus, ASRock and Gigabyte ~
    No matter how less differences between each board ~
    MSI Motherboard , the reviewer never have comment ~

    I am a MSI brand fans , I admitted it , but the reviewer seems like ignored MSI's afford.

    After working in retail for a while you tend to see trends with motherboard manufactures. From what I have seen, Asus tends to have the overall most stable quality with the least amount of issues and very decent support for BIOS updates for newer CPU support beyond most.

    ASRock has upped their game in recent years and has put more quality into their boards but they also have a lot of features much like Asus since they were once a part of ASUSTek and separated although Asus did put in a bid to buy them back but I haven't seen any word from them.

    Gigabyte is a hit or miss. Their high end seems very good but their low end sometimes lacks.

    Then there is MSI. I am not a fan of MSI. The TwinFRZR branded GPUs had a lot of issues, mainly the fans going out very fast. But I think there are two components that kill them for me the most. One was the massive heat issues their X58 boards had with the chipsets on a large number of their boards. We had a X58m from MSI that was idling at 58-60c for the chipset in BIOS doing nothing and we RMAed it. Came back with the same problem. Due to this heat most of the MSI X58 builds we did would lose SATA and come back sometimes on reboot. Had one customers machine that we went from a ATX X58 to a X58M and finally swapped them to an Asus which the chipset idled around 35c which is normal.

    The second for me was the BIOS updates on a lot of their boards. Now I can't say on their high end but recently MSI stopped allowing you to update through the BIOS and instead only offered a Windows based app to update and that is just bad. If you bought a MSI with a CPU and it didn't support it, rather then being able to drop an older CPU in and flash it, you have to do an entire build including Windows installation to do it which is a waste of time. USB via BIOS is the best method and now Asus even has the ability to do it sans CPU so if you bought a CPU that needs a BIOS update, no biggie.

    That's what I see of the brands. I tend to stick to Asus as they have always worked for me but I have experienced a lot and the article is fine. Its looks at the important features, as the majority of the software is not needed anyways and just bloat, and grades it from that.

    What I want to know is why a ROG Asus board has RealTek sound instead of Asus own sound. RealTek is fine for those who don't care but for real sound Asus/Creative offer way better solutions. Then again it is appealing to overclockers mostly.
    Reply
  • vipervoid1
    11638928 said:
    11638734 said:
    Reviewer seems like not really like MSI ~
    Always favoring Asus, ASRock and Gigabyte ~
    No matter how less differences between each board ~
    MSI Motherboard , the reviewer never have comment ~

    I am a MSI brand fans , I admitted it , but the reviewer seems like ignored MSI's afford.

    After working in retail for a while you tend to see trends with motherboard manufactures. From what I have seen, Asus tends to have the overall most stable quality with the least amount of issues and very decent support for BIOS updates for newer CPU support beyond most.

    ASRock has upped their game in recent years and has put more quality into their boards but they also have a lot of features much like Asus since they were once a part of ASUSTek and separated although Asus did put in a bid to buy them back but I haven't seen any word from them.

    Gigabyte is a hit or miss. Their high end seems very good but their low end sometimes lacks.

    Then there is MSI. I am not a fan of MSI. The TwinFRZR branded GPUs had a lot of issues, mainly the fans going out very fast. But I think there are two components that kill them for me the most. One was the massive heat issues their X58 boards had with the chipsets on a large number of their boards. We had a X58m from MSI that was idling at 58-60c for the chipset in BIOS doing nothing and we RMAed it. Came back with the same problem. Due to this heat most of the MSI X58 builds we did would lose SATA and come back sometimes on reboot. Had one customers machine that we went from a ATX X58 to a X58M and finally swapped them to an Asus which the chipset idled around 35c which is normal.

    The second for me was the BIOS updates on a lot of their boards. Now I can't say on their high end but recently MSI stopped allowing you to update through the BIOS and instead only offered a Windows based app to update and that is just bad. If you bought a MSI with a CPU and it didn't support it, rather then being able to drop an older CPU in and flash it, you have to do an entire build including Windows installation to do it which is a waste of time. USB via BIOS is the best method and now Asus even has the ability to do it sans CPU so if you bought a CPU that needs a BIOS update, no biggie.

    That's what I see of the brands. I tend to stick to Asus as they have always worked for me but I have experienced a lot and the article is fine. Its looks at the important features, as the majority of the software is not needed anyways and just bloat, and grades it from that.

    What I want to know is why a ROG Asus board has RealTek sound instead of Asus own sound. RealTek is fine for those who don't care but for real sound Asus/Creative offer way better solutions. Then again it is appealing to overclockers mostly.

    Actually myself currently using MSI P45 Platinum, I dont know their new product quality, but my current motherboard work for me for 5-6 years 24 hours operation still running well ~
    Even without driver on windows 8 still working well after used windows 8 for sometime ~

    I am going to upgrade this to Z87 Mpower in next year ~
    Btw my current build by my brother ~
    I going to build another setup based on MSI Z87 Mpower ~

    My Brother can flash the BIOS well with MSI Live Update ~
    It work well ~
    Now my setup running stable with latest BIOS ~
    Reply
  • vipervoid1
    11638803 said:
    11638734 said:
    Reviewer seems like not really like MSI ~
    Always favoring Asus, ASRock and Gigabyte ~
    No matter how less differences between each board ~
    MSI Motherboard , the reviewer never have comment ~

    I am a MSI brand fans , I admitted it , but the reviewer seems like ignored MSI's afford.
    In the award contest between MSI and Gigabyte, Gigabyte would have probably won the award. The problem for Gigabyte is that it's new price is too cheap to compete in a $220-300 roundup.

    11638739 said:
    And also dont have MSI software feature in the review ~
    Let's take a look at the article:
    The Z87 MPower Max comes with the exact software suite and tuning application as its previously-reviewed sibling. Rather than repeat our analysis of those tools and utilities, we'll move on to the board’s firmware specifics.
    Let me see if the department of redundancy department has a better explanation.

    11638770 said:
    Haswell motherboard guide: pick whichever looks best and has the right I/O. Performance-wise, they're all the same.
    Correct. Pick on features, price, overclocking, warranty, criteria that best match your own preferences. The benchmarks only point out when someone is cheating in reviews or has a flaw. And why point out cheating? Because it's what some of these companies use to get their awards from OTHER sites, and someone has to dispel those myths.

    Thanks for correcting me ~
    I also didnt read well the review ~
    Btw I really proud of being a MSI user ~
    Reply
  • Crashman
    11639187 said:
    Btw I really proud of being a MSI user ~
    They make great boards, I have no problem with them.

    Reply
  • victor raj
    Good review. I really like the Asus board.
    Reply