We carried out our tests on a testbed that included the following components:
- Asus P8Z77-V LE PLUS rev. 1.01 mainboard (LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express, BIOS version 0901);
- 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-R797OC-3GD graphics card (AMD Radeon HD 7970, Tahiti, 28 nm, 1000/5500 MHz, 384-bit GDDR5 3072 MB);
- Crucial m4 SSD (CT256M4SSD2, 256 GB, SATA 6 Gbps);
- Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler;
- ARCTIC MX-2 thermal interface;
- Enhance EPS-1280GA 800 W PSU;
- Open testbed built using Antec Skeleton system case.
We used Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise 64 bit (Microsoft Windows, Version 6.2, Build 9200) operating system, Intel Chipset Device Software driver package version 126.96.36.1996, AMD Catalyst 13.1 graphics card driver.
Operational and Overclocking Specifics
We had no problems assembling our testbed around the P8Z77-V LE PLUS. The mainboard worked smoothly at its default settings. This was great, bu we didn't notice any improvements in the mainboard startup process either, which was somewhat disappointing. Like other ASUS products, it doesn’t show any hotkey prompts on its startup picture, except for the well-known Del key.
If you disable the startup picture in the mainboard’s BIOS (or if you guess without any prompts that it can be turned off by pressing Tab), you will get a lot of information from the mainboard about its model name, BIOS version, CPU model name, and memory amount and frequency. However, instead of the actual CPU clock rate the mainboard will report its specified clock rate, not considering the Turbo technology.
Well, today’s mainboards start up so fast that it’s hard not only to read what they output on the screen but even to press the button to enter their BIOS. That’s why you may want to use the ASUS Boot Setting utility to automatically load the BIOS interface from Windows (we mentioned it in our ASUS P8Z77-V LK review). As for us, we just turned off the Fast Boost option in the mainboard’s BIOS (it’s in the Boot section) for the duration of our tests.
All of the power-saving technologies available in Intel CPUs are enabled on the P8Z77-V LE PLUS by default and work correctly. Additionally, you can turn on EPU Power Saving Mode using a corresponding BIOS option or an onboard switch. The CPU worked at its default settings indeed, in full compliance with its official specs, and we could easily accelerate it by enabling ASUS MultiCore Enhancement, which increased the CPU’s frequency multiplier to the maximum level as normally permitted by the Intel Turbo Boost technology for single-threaded load only. To reach higher performance, you can also use the OC Tuner option, which overclocks the CPU automatically, but we tried to find optimal settings manually. Unfortunately, the mainboard couldn’t make our CPU stable at its maximum clock rate of 4.6 GHz – the OS wouldn’t boot up, issuing a BSOD. That’s why we limited ourselves to 4.5 GHz. We also increased the memory frequency to 1866 MHz and adjusted memory timings as was necessary.
We want to remind you that we prefer “sustained” overclocking, which means that the overclocked system can be used continuously. We don’t disable any features or controllers. We keep Intel’s power-saving technologies up and running so they lower the CPU’s frequency multiplier and voltage, disable unused CPU subunits and switch the CPU into power-saving modes at low loads.