Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

We carried out our tests on a testbed that included the following components:

  • Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe rev.1.02 mainboard (LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express, BIOS version 0802);
  • Intel Core i5-3570K CPU (3.6-3.8 GHz, 4 cores, Ivy Bridge rev.E1, 22nm, 77 W, 1.05 V, LGA 1155);
  • 2 x 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R (1866 MHz, 9-10-9-27 timings, 1.5 V voltage);
  • Gigabyte GV-T797OC-3GD )AMD Radeon HD 7970, Tahiti, 28 nm, 1000/5500 MHz, 384-bit GDDR5 3072 MB);
  • Crucial m4 SSD (CT256M4SSD2, 256 GB, SATA 6 Gbps);
  • Scythe Mugen 3 Revision B (SCMG-3100) CPU cooler;
  • ARCTIC MX-2 thermal interface;
  • CoolerMaster RealPower M850 PSU (RS-850-ESBA);
  • Open testbed built using Antec Skeleton system case.

We used Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.1, Build 7601: Service Pack 1) operating system, Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility version, AMD Catalyst graphics card driver version 12.4.

As usual, we’ve made some tweaks to our testbed before embarking on the new series of reviews. We’ve picked up a serial Intel Core i5-3570K, which is a quad-core CPU with a default voltage of 1.05 volts and a clock rate of 3.4 GHz. The actual frequency is usually higher: the CPU is dynamically overclocked to 3.6 GHz even at high load thanks to the Intel Turbo Boost technology.

When only one CPU core is active, the clock rate is even raised up to 3.8 GHz.

When idle, the power-saving technologies lower the frequency multiplier and voltage of the CPU.

You may already be aware of the problems the new Ivy Bridge CPUs have with cooling because of the reduced size of the CPU die and the different thermal interface between the die and the heat-spreading cap. Such CPUs are often hotter than their Sandy Bridge predecessors under the same conditions. As we found out, it made no difference what cooler we used if it was a high-performance model. So, we chose a Scythe Mugen 3 Revision B.

You can read our review of the Scythe Mugen 3 for more details. Its B revision is compatible with the LGA2011 platform. Unfortunately, we have to note once again that the new Flip Mount Super Back-Plate 4, although improves the cooler’s compatibility with mainboards, makes the installation procedure rather too difficult.

The latest breed of mainboards, if used together with appropriate CPUs and graphics cards, can support PCI Express 3.0. The graphics subsystem of our testbed is represented by a Gigabyte GV-R797OC-3GD card, which is a Radeon HD 7970 pre-overclocked from 925 to 1000 MHz.

The original cooling system with heat pipes and three large fans keeps the graphics card cool at a moderate level of noise. It would be quite comfortable if some component didn’t produce a loud squealing sound at high load. Hopefully, this problem is only limited to our sample of the card.

These are all the modifications we’ve done to our testbed. The rest of its components have remained the same.

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