GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Second Look Review
System Port Device Testing
Audio Subsystem Testing
Audio Playback Testing
Using a selection of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music tracks and Windows Media Player, the audio subsystem playback performance was tested for playback accuracy and fidelity. Playback of the selected audio tracks was distortion free using a 5.1 speaker setup through the on-board analog audio ports.
Audio playback was distortion-free, making for an enjoyable listening session.
Microphone Port Testing
For testing the board's Microphone input port, a Labtec Desk Mic 524 microphone was used to capture a 30 second spoken phrase with the assistance of the Microsoft Sound Recorder application. The resulting audio file was saved to the desktop and played back using Windows Media Player
The audio recording was distortion free, but lower than desired with Microphone Boost disabled. With Microphone Boost increased to +10dB, the playback of recorded audio was flawless.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
To validate that the board’s device ports were functioning correctly, we connected an OCZ Vertex 3 90GB SATA III SSD to the system and ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark against the drive. ATTO was configured to test against transfer sizes from 0.5 to 8192 KB with Total Length set to 512 MB. The SSD selected for testing has a maximum read throughput of 550 MB/s and a write throughput of 500 MB/s on a SATA III port.
External device testing was done against the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports using conversion cables to connect the SSD. The SSD was connected to the SATA III ports as well. The SATA device ports were set to work in AHCI mode in order to optimize SSD device operation. All tests were run 3 times with the highest repeatable read and write scores recorded in MB/s values.
According to various other testing sites, the real-world performance maximum of USB 2.0 peaks at 35-40MB/s (about 60% of its rated 60MB/s throughput) and USB 3.0 peaks at 350-400MB/s (about 60-80% of its rated 500MB/s (4.0Gbps) throughput ).
The performance across all USB ports fell as anticipated with the most impressive performance being that of the USB 3.0 ports connected via the Renesas hub. The Renesas hub splits one of the Intel Z87 USB 3.0 ports into four ports. GIGABYTE integrated a total of two Renesas hubs into the board's design, in essence turning two USB 3.0 ports into eight USB 3.0 ports.
Note that the Enable USB 3.0 pins setting on the Peripherals page in the BIOS must be set to Enabled for the onboard USB 3.0 ports to operate in USB 3.0 SuperSpeed mode. This setting becomes visible in the BIOS with the XHCI Mode option set to Manual.
The SATA port performance for drives connected to both the Z87 Chipset ports and the ASMedia ports were pushing the performance limits of the connected drive. While the ASMedia port device was technically slower than the Z87 port device, the performance difference came down to a negligible 2%. You should have solid performance with your SATA III devices no matter which ports you decide to use on this board.
SoftPerfect Research NetWorx Speed Test
In conjunction with Windows Performance Monitor, SoftPerfect Research NetWorx Speed Meter application was used to measure the upload and download performance of the motherboards integrated network controllers. Speed Meter was used to measure average network throughput in MB/s with Windows Performance Monitor used to measure average CPU utilization during the tests.
Intel GigE controller
For the wired network adapters, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system directly connected to the local system via a crossover cable. Use of a crossover cable eliminates the possibility of throughput loss due to router passage. The two file sets used consisted of a single 3 GB archive file and a folder containing 3 GB of audio files. Note that both Intel adapters were found to perform the same in testing, resulting in only a single set of controller results to be reported.
Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter is 125 MB/s (1.0 Gbps).
The Intel-based GigE controllers performed well within expectations with all average transfer speeds exceeding an impressive 80 MB/s. In both the small and large file tests, the upload speed bested that of download by a minimum of 10 MB/s. More impressive was the ultra-low CPU utilization averages with utilization averaging a scant 5% at most.
Atheros 802.11n wireless adapter
For the wireless network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system connected via router. The target system was connected to the router via a wired 1Gbps link to eliminate the possibility of throughput loss due to wireless transmission. The two file sets used consisted of a single 750 MB archive file and a folder containing 750 MB of audio files.
Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a dual-channel 802.11n based wireless adapter is 37.50 MB/s (300 Mbps). However, real-world performance is normally much lower due to the massive overhead and packet loss inherent to a wireless-based system.
The 802.11n wireless adapter performance was a mixed affair with the small file transfers suffering performance-wise. The large file transfer speeds averaged 12 MB/s or over while the small transfer speeds barely broke 10 MB/s consistently. Measured speeds between runs of the small file transfer tests were inconsistent at best. CPU utilization did not exceed an average of 4% during any runs.
Atheros Bluetooth adapter
For the Bluetooth network adapter, the testing consisted of copying two file sets from and to a remote system directly connected via the Bluetooth link. The two file sets used consisted of a single 10 MB archive file and a folder containing 10 MB of audio files.
Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for an 802.11n based wireless adapter is 375 KB/s (3.0 Mbps). However, real-world performance is normally much lower due to the massive overhead and packet loss inherent to a wireless-based system.
The Atheros Bluetooth adapter performed spectacularly with transfer speeds averaging between 190 to 200 KB/s. The CPU utilization did not average more than 1% during any of the recorded runs.