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ASUS Z97-Deluxe & Z97-A Review

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ASUS Z97-Deluxe & Z97-A Testing:

Testing the top and bottom of the ASUS Z97 motherboard mainstream product stack will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 770. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However, there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds, creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings, making this point a valid concern, so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Overclocking the Core i7 4770K is akin at times to pulling your teeth out due to the thermal limits that get reached pretty quickly when applying voltage to the core and IVR. Couple that with the strength of the memory controller as CPU clock speed increases, you play a balancing act to get the highest level of performance. ASUS takes all these variables into account based on its testing history with the architecture to deliver good, solid overclocking using its tools. To start with, the 5-Way optimization tool in AI Suite will give you a good solid clock speed with nothing other than clicking the radio button in the software. It's just that easy. However on the Z97-A, the overclock set in the AI Suite III 5-Way optimization tool was an overly aggressive 4.8GHz; a speed my chip on its best day will not run with any stability much less making it into the OS. Checking with the ASUS-skinned CPU-Z, the actual clock speed set was 4.7GHz, which is something my chip will do. This speed proved stable enough for benchmarks, but not hardcore stability testing.

Now when you get to manually tuning the boards, I'll start with the Z97-A. Overall, it was just easy to reach 4.7GHz by setting the clock multiplier to 47 and the cache ratio to 46 and tuning the voltage needs for my chip. All the other settings in the BIOS were left on auto, save for manually tuning the primary memory timings and voltage. I used 1.290v set in the BIOS for the CPU core and cache with 1.65set for the memory to reach the final clock speed. The BIOS set the rest of the parameters making it easy for the novice to get a solid overclock. Using the F11 tuning wizard in the BIOS, the board set a 4.58GHz clock speed following my input of the operating parameters, such as functioning as a gaming computer using water cooling to keep the thermals in check. Again, a sweet and simple process with a more livable clock speed.

 

 

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. CrystalDiskMark
  7. ATTO 2.47
  8. SATA Express Testing
  9. iPerf
  10. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. DiRT 3
  3. Metro: Last Light



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