Articles: Mainboards

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Testbed Configuration

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

  • Asus Rampage IV Formula/Battlefield 3 rev.1.03 mainboard (BIOS version 1005);
  • Intel Core i7-3930K CPU (3.2-3.8 GHz, Sandy Bridge-E rev.C2, 32nm, 130 W, LGA 2011);
  • 4 x 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R (16 GB, 1866 MHz, 9-10-9-27 timings, 1.5 V voltage);
  • MSI N570GTX-M2D12D5/OC graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 570, GF110, 40 nm, 786/4200 MHz, 320-bit GDDR5 1280 MB);
  • Crucial m4 SSD (CT256M4SSD2, 256 GB, SATA 6 Gbps);
  • Noctua NH-D14 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, Nvidia GeForce Driver 285.62 graphics card driver.

We had a few minor problems during the system assembly on Asus Rampage IV Formula/Battlefield 3 mainboard. The thing is that despite a lot of additional controllers and other components on the PCB, it meets the ATX dimensions standards, unlike larger LGA 2011 models from Gigabyte and Asus, which we tested before. In fact, it is one of the mainboard’s advantages, but it was a pretty tight fit. As a result, the graphics card installed into the first PCI Express x16 slot was dangerously close to Zalman CNPS12X CPU cooler, and the memory modules with tall heat-spreaders, had to be installed at a small angle even when using the farthest DIMM slots from the CPU socket. However, the latter problem got resolved on its own. The tall heat-spreaders on Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R memory modules are designed not as traditional thick plates, but are made of thin aluminum, which is of about the same thickness as the food cans. So, we removed two heat-spreaders in order to be able to use the Zalman CNPS12X cooler, and left the other two on. However, you have to apply some force when pushing the modules into the DIMM slots. In this case the relatively thin heat-spreaders got slightly bent and reshaped and eventually one of them fell off by itself and the other one needed just a little bit of help from us. Of course, only those users who install and remove memory modules frequently may eventually face the same problem, and the majority will most likely never experience it. Moreover, this isn’t really a problem, because DDR3 memory modules working at 1.5 V nominal voltage do not heat up even under heavy load, so the heat-spreaders perform mostly aesthetic functions.

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