Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

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

  • Asus P8Z77-V LK mainboard (LGA 1155, Intel Z77 Express, BIOS version 0908);
  • 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, AMD Catalyst 13.1 graphics card driver.

Operational and Overclocking Specifics

As has become normal in our practice, we had no problems at all assembling our testbed configuration around the tested mainboard but we must warn you that the two fan connectors in the center of the ASUS P8Z77-V LK may be hard to access. They may be blocked by the CPU cooler on one side and by the discrete graphics card on the other side. Well, we didn’t use the mainboard’s CPU fan connector at all because it couldn‘t regulate 3-pin fans. We had to employ a Zalman ZM-MC1 adapter to manually set the CPU fans at full speed in overclocked mode and slow them down at the default settings.

When started up, the mainboard shows you a welcome picture without any prompts about what hotkeys are available.

The startup picture can be disabled in the BIOS or by pressing Tab, yet you won't see any hotkey prompts anyway. Moreover, the mainboard cannot correctly report the actual CPU clock rate, telling you the default frequency instead. The information about memory frequency and amount is correct, though.

Today’s mainboards start up so fast that you may have problems entering their BIOS – you just don’t have enough time to hit the necessary key. The P8Z77-V LK has no button to automatically load its BIOS. You can enable a startup delay instead but it only works for the first launch – the mainboard restarts almost instantaneously still. This inconvenience was due to our own fault, though. We had just neglected the ASUS Boot Setting utility which offers a single button for loading the BIOS automatically. The utility is not part of the ASUS AI Suite II software but can be downloaded separately. By pressing the Advanced Setup arrow below the button, you can open additional settings.

It is easy to do without the utility, too. While you’re setting up your computer and need to load the BIOS often, you can just turn off the Fast Boot option in the Boot section of the BIOS interface.

The ASUS P8Z77-V LK turned out to be the only mainboard we’ve tested recently to run the CPU in its truly standard mode at the default settings. The ASUS MultiCore Enhancement option in the mainboard's BIOS can be enabled to increase the CPU frequency multiplier to the top value, which is normally permitted by the Intel Turbo Boost technology for single-threaded load only. Although set at Enabled, this option doesn’t do anything until you get to manually setting the mainboard up. We guess it would be better for it to be set at Disabled by default to avoid confusion.

You may want to manually change the value of each power-saving option from Auto to Enabled. In our case, this helped us lower the computer's idle power draw from 47-48 to 44-45 watts. It means that not all of the power-saving features are on by default.

Like the rest of ASUS mainboards, the P8Z77-V LK has the OC Tuner option in its BIOS which helps overclock the CPU automatically. But, of course, you can get better results by overclocking manually. We couldn't reach our CPU’s maximum clock rate of 4.6 GHz with the P8Z77-V LK, yet the mainboard kept the CPU stable at 4.5 GHz. We also increased the memory clock rate to 1866 MHz and corrected memory timings.

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.


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