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. The only exception is Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 mainboard: we enabled all power-saving technologies and Turbo mode on this model during our nominal mode tests, because they are not fully functional by default.  For comparison purposes we are going to also include the results from our reviews of Asus Sabertooth P67, ECS P67H2-A and P67H2-A2, Foxconn P67A-S, Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD4-B3, Intel DP67BG and MSI P67A-GD80 (B3). The results are sorted out in descending order on the diagrams.

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.

A small video in x264 HD Benchmark 3.0 is encoded in two passes and then the entire process is repeated four times. The average results of the second pass are displayed on the following diagram:

We measured the performance in Adobe Photoshop using our own benchmark made from Retouch Artists Photoshop Speed Test that has been creatively modified. It includes typical editing of four 10-megapixel images from a digital photo camera.

In the archiving test a 1 GB file is compressed using LZMA2 algorithms, while other compression settings remain at defaults.

Like in the data compression test, the faster 16 million of Pi digits are calculated, the better. This is the only benchmark where the number of processor cores doesn’t really matter, because it creates single-threaded load.

There are good and bad things about complex performance tests. However, Futuremark benchmarking software has become extremely popular and is used for comparisons a lot. The diagram below shows the average results after three test-runs in 3DMark11 Performance mode with default settings:

Since we do not overclock graphics in our mainboard reviews, the next diagram shows only CPU tests from the 3DMark11 – Physics Score.

We use FC2 Benchmark Tool to go over Ranch Small map ten times in 1920x1080 resolution with high image quality settings in DirectX 10.

Resident Evil 5 game also has a built-in performance test. Its peculiarity is that it can really take advantage of multi-core processor architecture. The tests were run in DirectX 10 in 1920x1080 resolution with high image quality settings. The average of five test runs was taken for further analysis:

As might be expected, there is almost no difference between related mainboards in terms of performance. They all have the same results in most of the tests. There are but a few notable exceptions. For example, the ECS P67H2-A is slower than the other mainboards in graphics-heavy tests, obviously due to its Lucid Hydra controller. However, this review is about Gigabyte mainboards, so what do they show us? Well, as I already noted above, they are slow in the SuperPi test due to Turbo Boost not doing its best. Besides, the Gigabyte mainboards have the lowest results in Adobe Photoshop, probably because some image-processing operations do not need all of the CPU cores. However, we do not see the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 model among the slower products. On the contrary, it is among the leaders in the SuperPi and Adobe Photoshop tests. Why? Because I deliberately enabled power-saving technologies and Turbo Boost for it. You'll see the power consumption results shortly, but we can see already that Gigabyte’s new products could be as fast as others if they were set up optimally by default.

I've mentioned tests with low CPU load where the Gigabyte mainboards are inferior in performance to their opponents, but I should also note one test, namely 3DMark 11, where they take top places. Is it not odd that the three models (with the exception of the GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 for which I enabled Turbo Boost) are so fast in that benchmark? It may be assumed that mainboards with a constant CPU clock rate are faster than average in this benchmark for some reason. However, you will see shortly that the Gigabyte mainboards take last places in 3DMark 11 when overclocked, i.e. when their CPU clock rate is constant, too. When not overclocked, with a 3.4GHz CPU and 1066MHz memory, these mainboards score about 5500 points in 3DMark 11, but when overclocked to 4.7 GHz for the CPU and to 1600 or even 1867 MHz for the memory, these mainboards score 100 points less! It seems to be the first time that I see a computer system getting slower when overclocked! This may be an indication of some problems with the benchmark itself. Many people do not like synthetic benchmarks as opposed to real-life applications. The latter can yield inexplicable results, too, but not as often and not as consistently as those produced by synthetic benchmarks.

 
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