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ECS L337 GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme Review

ccokeman    -   August 27, 2013
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ECS L337 GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme Testing:

Testing ECS L337 GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard 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  AMD Catalyst 13.6 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. 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 on the ECS L337 GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme gave me a mixed bag of results depending on the BIOS used. The release BIOS limited me to using just adaptive vcore to set the voltages to the CPU and VRM components, allowing a maximum overclock of just over 4.5GHz stable due to the thermal limits imposed by the voltage applied. Loading up the latest BIOS using ECS' eBLU tool I was able to use an override voltage of 1.325 to get back up to the 4.7GHz this particular Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K is capable of doing. After that bit of drama and frustration I was able to complete the CPU overclock testing without a hitch. By adjusting the vcore and cache ring voltage to 1.325v, the Digital and Analog IO voltages to +10mv, the memory voltage to 1.65v, and setting the XMP profile for the installed Mushkin Memory I reached the final clock speed.

Memory overclocking or just setting the timings manually is where I ran into issues running anything except the XMP profile. I have a preset list of settings that I set for each board that includes CasL, tRCD,tRP, tRAS, tRFC, TFAW, and command rate, and are 9-11-10-28-160-30-1, respectively. Any deviation from what was set on the XMP profile would result in a failed boot on a chip that can easily handle memory speeds of 2600+ while running at 4.7GHz.

ECS gives you a couple of options when it comes to automatic overclocking and sadly I was not able to get either of them to function properly in my testing. ECS eOC tool would look for the Management Engine Components even though it was installed from the disk and with the newest version from Intel as well as verified in the BIOS. The overclocking tools make it easy for the novice yet the enthusiast will look for the more rewarding avenue using the BIOS manually and the tools as exploratory options. I have to say this has been the most disappointed I have been overclocking an ECS motherboard in some time as it seems it just isn't there yet with the tools functionality. As far as voltage stability I found you pretty much get what you set when in the override mode with almost the same experience using the adaptive settings.

 

 

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 over-clocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. x264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Diskmark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro Last Light
  3. DiRT 3



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