Articles: Mainboards

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Performance Comparison

As usual, we are going to compare the mainboards speeds in two different modes: in nominal mode and during CPU and memory overclocking. The first mode is interesting because it shows how well the mainboards work with their default settings. It is a known fact that most users do not fine-tune their systems, they simply choose the optimal BIOS settings and do nothing else. That is why we run a round of tests almost without interfering in any way with the default mainboard settings. Since Asus Z87-K mainboard is the first and so far the only Intel Z87 based mainboard we have reviewed so far, we decided to compare its performance in nominal vs. overclocked mode.

We used Cinebench 11.5. All tests were run five times and the average result of the five runs was taken for the performance charts.

We have been using Fritz Chess Benchmark utility for a long time already and it proved very illustrative. It generated repeated results, the performance in it is scales perfectly depending on the number of involved computational threads.

x264 FHD Benchmark v1.0.1 (64 bit) allows us to compare the system performance during video transcoding against the results in the database. So far this is the only utility in our testing suite that supports AVX2 instructions implemented in Haswell processors. The average results of the five test runs are displayed on the following diagram:

We measured the performance in Adobe Photoshop CS6 using our own benchmark made from Retouch Artists Photoshop Speed Test that has been creatively modified. It includes typical editing of four 24-megapixel images from a digital photo camera.

In the archiving test a 1 GB file is compressed using WinRAR archiving tool with maximum compression level.

The recently released PCMark 8 suite allows us to assess the overall system performance, the efficiency of its storage sub-system, measure the battery life of a mobile device. We use the “Home” test package that includes typical home use applications: web browsing, creating and editing documents, simple games, photo editing, video chatting.

The next diagram shows only CPU tests from the 3DMark Fire Strike. This score is obtained in a special physics test that emulates the behavior of a complex gaming system working with numerous objects:

The benchmark integrated into the Hitman Absolution game turned out very convenient. It can be launched directly from the game, from the game launcher utility and even from the command prompt. We use maximum quality settings from the “Ultra” profile and a pretty high screen resolution.

Batman: Arkham City game also reacts eagerly to any changes in the CPU clock frequency, and it uses DirectX 11. We ran game’s integrated benchmark five times with “Very High” image quality settings and then take the average of the five runs for the diagrams.

Our overclocking of the Intel Core i7-4770K processor together with system memory provides a 20% performance boost, which is smaller than what we had from overclocking Intel's earlier CPUs. That's okay since the new CPU is just not as good at overclocking as its predecessors. Sandy Bridge series processors used to speed up to 4.6 to 4.8 GHz, some sample even capable of being clocked at 5 GHz and higher. CPUs with the Ivy Bridge core could only reach 4.5 to 4.7 GHz, but now we have to content ourselves with only 4.4 GHz overclocking our Haswell. It’s sad but let’s have a closer look at the results of x264 FHD Benchmark v1.0.1 (64-bit). Released in 2011, it helps you compare your computer with reference results from its database in video encoding tasks. The original version of the benchmark with the version r2106 coder could make use of AVX instructions but we use version r2334 to enable the new AVX2 instruction set available on Haswell CPUs. The system is tested at its default settings as well as in overclocked mode.

In either case, we can enjoy an impressive performance boost up to 20% but the next diagram is going to be even more illustrative. It shows the results we've got when benchmarking our computer in the overclocked mode with the AVX instruction set enabled as compared to the same computer at default settings and with the new AVX2 instruction set.

It turns out that instead of trying our best to overclock our Haswell as much as we could, instead of dealing with the voltage regulator's odd behavior, instead of handling the uncontrollable rise of power consumption and temperature, we could just use the updated version of the application to reach the same or even higher performance! The new AVX2 instruction set is a hefty advantage of Haswell-core CPUs. Even though the benchmark code might have been optimized in some other ways as well, we have no doubt about the advantages of AVX2.

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