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MSI Z87M Gaming Review

ccokeman    -   January 20, 2014
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MSI Z87M Gaming Testing:

Testing the MSI Z87M 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 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:

 

As we saw with the Z87-GD65 Gaming from MSI, the end user gets a pretty good selection of options when it comes to overclocking the CPU and memory. OC Genie 4 offers push button overclocking with two distinct modes, Turbo and Gaming, along with the full suite of options if you chose to manually tweak the latest version of MSI's Click BIOS 4 UEFI BIOS. Add in the Control Center option and it's hard to go wrong whichever way you choose to go. Let's start out with overclocking in Control Center. Voltages, bclock, and multiplier options are there to use to reach pretty modest goals. 4400MHz was possible without any hassle or failures of any kind, and I was able to tweak the settings in the operating system to match the clock speed my 4770K is capable of via manual tuning in the BIOS. The benefit of overclocking in the OS is that you can try to reach speeds that the chip cannot boot with, but can run at benchmark stable speeds.

OC Genie 4 allows the end user to have the ability to set up a sweet and simple conservative overclock using just the touch of a button. Over the last few MSI boards I have tested with this feature, including the Z87M Gaming, I have found that this hardware based solution works as advertised. The overclocks on the 4770K are fairly conservative, but need to be so due to the clock speed tolerances of the majority of Core i7 4770Ks. Using the mode switch, a 4000MHz and 4200MHz Prime 95 stable overclock is applied respectively.

Manual tuning in the BIOS is the option that takes some work, but is ultimately the most rewarding. By adjusting just a few key voltages and setting the memory to its XMP Profile, the Z87M Gaming would deliver just over 4.6GHz out of my 4.7GHz capable chip. Not bad for an MATX board to say the least. Memory overclocking with higher clock speeds is going to be fully dependent on the strength of the CPU's memory controller. The Z87M Gaming did easily handle the 2400MHz rated memory used in the test system.

 

 

Command Center OC      Manually tuned BIOS OC

 

OC Genie 4 Gaming OC      OC Genie 4 Turbo OC

 

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. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Disk Mark
  7. ATTO 2.47
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3



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