MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming Reviewccokeman -
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MSI Z87-GD65 Testing:
Testing MSI's Z87-GD65 Gaming 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
- Processors: Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100
- Motherboard: MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
- Memory: Mushkin 993997 Redline PC317000 9-11-10-28 16GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB SATA 3
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Getting into the BIOS to overclock the Core i7 4770K was a welcome change after testing the Intel DZ87KLT-75. Not that that board was bad but that there are much better GUIs for the latest UEFI BIOS. Seeing that the maximum stable overclock I could push this Core i7 4770K to was 4.7GHz on the Intel board I was optimistic that on the Z87-GD65 I would be able to see a bit more in terms of raw clock speed. Sadly the chip I have seems to run out of steam at 4.7GHz any way I get there. With the Z87-GD65 I was able to at least boot into the OS at 4.8 still using a maximum of 1.35V to the processor. Any higher on the vcore and the Core i7 4770K would start throttling under load, even with a custom water loop.
Overclocking via MSI's Click BIOS 4 is only one avenue for the enthusiast to grab some extra clock speed and is where most of the time can be spent. To get to 4.7GHz I adjusted just three voltages from the supplied auto settings. First I set both the vcore and ring voltage to override mode and adjusted the voltage up to the level required by my CPU. Then I set the DRAM voltage to 1.65 to meet the requirements for the system memory. Your mileage will vary on the CPU voltage needed due to the variability of the processors capabilities from Intel. It's that simple to reach the overclocking goal for the Z87-GD65. If the story ended there we could say we were happy.
If the Click BIOS 4 is a bit daunting you can use MSI's OC Genie 4 to get a quick and easy overclock with just the push of the OC Genie button on the lower edge of the PCB. OC Genie 4 has a switch that allows the user to switch between Gaming Mode and Turbo Mode at the flip of a switch. Gaming mode is set by default and is a bit conservative with a 100MHz boost over the 3900MHz boost clock speed from Intel but does work and proved stable with no other adjustments in the BIOS. Turbo mode is also conservative at 4200MHz but this equates to free performance just for pushing a button and flipping a switch without having to dig into the BIOS. The reason I am guessing for the conservative clock speeds is that the heat generated by the Haswell core can ramp up quite quickly and keeping the core and voltage low gives the highest success rate for the broadest market. It can't get any easier.
Overclocking the CPU and memory together brings a new dynamic to the table with Haswell and the Core i7 4770K. Memory controller limitations are not a new problem with Intel's latest architectures. The Core i7 3770K had improved memory overclocking abilities by comparison to Sandy Bridge-based chips which were, truth be told, no slouches in that department either. What you get with Haswell is an awesome memory controller that can handle 3000MHz memory on a whim. The problem is that the CPU speed you can run that number at may be as low as the default clock speeds. The rarer processors are the ones that get the best of both worlds. In the case of the CPU I am using for this review it will go as high as the highest clocking set of memory I have will go. This being a set of 2400MHz G.Skill Trident that maxed out at 2500MHz on my 3770K. With this processor 2600MHz was possible with a 4.7GHz clock speed on the CPU core. I can only hope this is more representative of the capabilities of Haswell.
Maximum Core Clock Speed:
Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.
- Scientific & Data:
- PCMark 7
- SiSoft Sandra 2013
- Cinebench 11.5
- X.264 5.1
- AIDA 64 3.00
- Crystal Diskmark
- Rightmark Audio Analyzer
- Metro: Last Light
- DiRT 3