Home / Component / CPU / Asus Z87 Sabertooth Motherboard Review (w/ Intel i7 4770k)

Asus Z87 Sabertooth Motherboard Review (w/ Intel i7 4770k)

Rating: 9.0.

This weekend Intel launch their new Haswell range of processors and the major motherboard partners have a range of models for the enthusiast audience to choose from. We have several articles prepared for today, and this review focuses on the new Asus Sabertooth Motherboard paired up with the Intel Core i7 4770k.

ASUS have earned a reputation over the years for creating some of the world’s finest motherboards, many of which we have reviewed on Kitguru. The Sabertooth range have been a firm favourite with the enthusiast audience thanks to high overclocking capabilities, a full feature set and killer stability under heavy load. We have high hopes for this board today.

We won’t be testing the onboard Intel HD graphics in this review, we will cover that in our Gigabyte review – so head over to our front page to read more if you are interested.
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The new Asus Z87 Sabertooth supports the latest 4th generation Intel Core i7 / i5 and i3 processors. It should be priced around the competitive £200 price point in the United Kingdom.

The Z87 Express Chipset supports the LGA1150 socket. It utilises the serial point to point links which increase bandwidth and enhance system performance. It natively supports up to six USB 3.0 ports and enables the iGPU function for Intel integrated graphics performance. All of the SATA ports support 6GBps capability, so no hunting around to make sure you have the right ports for that shiny new Solid State Drive.

Additionally, for those people who want the ultimate gaming performance, the motherboard supports Quad SLI and CrossfireX configurations.

One of the biggest selling points of the Sabertooth has always been the ‘Thermal Armor’ – a casing which covers the majority of the PCB. This ‘Armor’ has a flow gate mechanism which allows you to open, or close the thermal armor via a button. When the gate is open, it provides an excellent thermal solution for the CPU. When the gate is closed it focuses air on heatpipes for better heat removal, useful when liquid cooling.

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We didn’t receive our Intel Core i7 4770k samples until very close to the review deadline so we didn’t get the time to cover everything we wanted in our reviews today. I think this has actually been one of the worst Intel launches in history, with almost all the details of the products leaked online long before the ‘official’ NDA broke this weekend.

That and the motherboard manufacturers insistence on pushing almost every detail of the products into the public domain via video ‘previews’ and picture media makes this launch feel like a damp squib.
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The Intel Core i7 4770k is the direct replacement for the highly successful Core i7 3770k , a processor which sold well into the overclocking sector.
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Intel are keen to highlight the ‘re-invention of the desktop pc’. With the new manufacturing process they can focus on reducing power drain, physical dimensions of the partnering chassis and allows their partners further options for delivering interesting products.

As we would expect the Intel Core i7 4770k is a Quad core processor with hyperthreading support (4+4), identical in that regard to its predecessor, the 3770k. It is also unlocked, targeting the overclockers who want to get the most for their money. We don’t have confirmed pricing as I am writing this, but we have been told that it will cost more than the 3770k.

Sadly, AMD are not able to challenge Intel in this specific sector so they can charge whatever they want, knowing that many people will pay a premium for the performance.

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The 4770k is manufactured on the 22nm process and has a Max TDP rating of 84W. The standard clock speed is set at 3,500mhz, although as we will see later in the review, the processor can turbo well above this figure, depending on the thermal overhead at the time. The official speed rating is up to 3.9ghz. It has 8MB of cache.

The 4770k has an integrated memory controller which supports 2 channels of ‘DDR3-1600’ memory, with 2 DIMMs per channel. With an XMP profile, the memory limitations are much higher, as we will find out later in the review.

As we received multiple motherboards for launch day we will look at the onboard graphics capabilities of the 4770k  in another review today. That said, new enhanced built-in visual features deliver a seamless visual PC experience for doing everything from simple e-mail to enjoying the latest 3D and HD entertainment. The built-in visuals suite includes:

  • Intel Quick Sync Video Technology: Media processing for incredibly fast conversion of video files for portable media players or online sharing.
  • Intel InTru 3D: Stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray playback experience in full HD 1080p resolution over HDMI 1.4 with 3D.
  • Intel Clear Video HD Technology: Visual quality and color fidelity enhancements for spectacular HD playback and immersive web browsing.
  • Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 2.0 (Intel® AVX 2.0): Increased performance for demanding visual applications like professional video & image editing.
  • Intel HD Graphics 4600: Significant 3D performance for immersive mainstream gaming on a broad range of titles. The dynamic graphics frequency ranges up to 1250MHz.


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The Asus Sabertooth Z87 motherboard ships in a lovely looking matt finished box with a very simplistic, yet artistic approach. At least ASUS haven’t opted for semi naked 3D rendered women, or dragons. Urgh.
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The bundle is extensive. Asus include the following items in the box, along with the motherboard.

  • Technical documentations, certification and warranty card.
  • Support DVD
  • 4x Serial ATA 6.0 Cables
  • 1 ASUS SLi bridge connector
  • 1 ASUS Q Shield (I/O)
  • 1 x 2 in 1 ASUS Q connector Kit
  • 1 2 x 35mm accessory fans
  • 2 x short fan screws and 2 x long fan screws
  • 3 x PCIe x 16 slot covers and 3 x PCI e x 1 slot covers
  • 2 x DRAM slot covers
  • Rear I/O dust filter
  • 1 x 400mm I/O cover fan lid
  • 1 x Connector cap set (LAN Cap, HDMI cap, DVI cap, DP cap, Front USB 3.0 cap).
  • 3 x Thermistor cables
  • 9 x SATA/eSATA connector caps and 10 x onboard USB 3.0/2.0 connector caps
  • 6 x Audio connector caps
  • 1x adhesive foam for 35mm fan


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The Asus Z87 Sabertooth isn’t the most beautiful looking motherboard we have seen. It is populated with cream (beige) and brown slots/ports across the board. Most of the PCB is covered with the TUF Thermal Armor which we discussed a little earlier in the review. This can be removed completely if you want, or additional fans can be added in specific places to aid with airflow. The board measures 30.5 cm by 24.4 cm fitting the ATX form factor.

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The board is a 8+2 Digital Phase power design with ‘TuF components’ – the Choke, Cap and MOSFET, which ASUS claim are certified by military standard. It is impossible for us to verify this, so we also take manufacturers at their word.

As we mentioned on the last page, ASUS supply this motherboard with a series of covers, which fits in with their ‘SAFE & Stable! Guardian Angel’ premise. These dust defender covers can protect various parts of the board from long term dust pollution and there is even an I/O dust filter. The board has anti surge protection as well.

If you are the kind of person who likes to clean their system with a air spray duster on a semi regular basis, this sounds a little like a gimmick to us, but again, everyone will have a different view on it.
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There is a beefy cooling system around the CPU socket as shown above. Asus have left enough space however to install the largest heatsinks, so there will be no fitting problems. A Noctua NH D14 can be fitted here … we tried.
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The Z87 Sabertooth motherboard has four memory slots which work in a dual channel configuration. Officially ASUS claim a maximum of 32GB can be installed with speeds of 1,066mhz, 1,333mhz, 1,600 mhz and 1,866mhz. We test beyond these claims later with new XMP memory.
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All SATA ports are SATA 6Gbps capable with Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10 support. The two biege ports on the far left of the image above are ASMedia controlled, and the other six are controlled by the Intel Z87 Express chipset.

Onboard audio is handled by the Realtek ALC1150 8 channel high definition AUDIO CODEC. This allows for high quality 112dB SNR stereo playback output (line out at rear) and 104dB SNR recording input (line in) support. There is ‘absolute pitch’  192 khz/24 bit true BD lossless sound with BD audio layer content protection.
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The board has 2 PCI Express 3.0/2.0 slots (single at x16 or dual at x8/x8). There is also a single PCI Express 2.0 slot which runs at x16. There are also 3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots.

The PCIe 2.0 x 16 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe 2.0 x1_1 slot, PCIe 2.0 x 1_2 slot, and PCIe 2.0 x1_3 slot. The PCIe 2.0 x 16 slot default setting is x1 mode. The PCIe 2.0 x1_1 slot shares bandwidth with eSATA 6.0 GB/s ports. The board support both QUAD CrossfireX and QUAD SLi configurations.
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The rear panel has the following connectors:

  • 1x Displayport
  • 1x HDMI Port
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out port
  • 1x USB BIOS Flashback button
  • 2x eSATA 6.0Gbps ports
  • 1x Lan (RJ45) port
  • 4x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (blue, 1 supports USB BIOS Flashback)
  • 4x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 8 channel audio I/O ports

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The CPU power connector resides at the top of the board. Depending on the case you are using, this can be tricky to access after the motherboard is installed into the case. There are a total of 7 fan headers scattered across the board. These headers can all control fan speed, even if they are 3 or 4 pin connectors.
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Along the bottom of the board (from right to left) are the front system panel connector. A DirectKey button (for accessing the BIOS without having to press the DELETE button on the keyboard), fan header, Thermal sensor connectors, two USB 2.0 connectors, a TPM connector, a standby power LED, Clear RTC RAM, another fan header, a digital audio connector and the front panel audio connector.


We always like to use the latest memory when testing a new series of motherboards. With this in mind Corsair very kindly offered to send us 16GB of their latest Vengeance Pro Series 2,400mhz memory. We will be looking closer at this memory in a dedicated review shortly.
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The Corsair Vengeance Pro ships in a colourful package featuring an artistic photograph of the heatspreader, as shown above.
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The heatsinks are nicely designed with curved edges and company branding on the sides.
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This memory has an XMP profile set at 2,400mhz with 10-12-12-31 timings.
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Corsair also sent us one of their HX750 power supplies which is 100% compatible with Haswell. We recently published a little article on these compatibility concerns over here, with a short excerpt below:

“Intel’s Haswell C6/C7 power states require a minimum load of 0.05A on the 12V2 rail and many current power supplies will fail to provide that low a current. Many older power supply designs comply with ATX 12V V2.3 design guidelines meaning they only call for load of 0.5A on the CPU power rail. This will mean C6 and C7 power states will be disabled in the bios.

Although we have yet to test, there may be cases that the supplies will become unstable when the processors try to enter into these states. Additionally the problems get worse when we factor in that many power supply units do not report minimum currents supported by the 12V2 rail.

From what we hear, the problem may kick in when the CPU enters sleep mode but with a load on the power supply non primary +3.3V and +5V rails. If the load on these rails hits a certain point (different from PSU to PSU) the +12V can go out of spec – voltages greater than 12.6V. If the +12V is out of spec when the system steps out of sleep state the power supply protection may kick in and stop the power supply from running normally. This situation may involve the end user turning the power supply switch off and back on again.

A power supply that uses a DC to DC design for the non primary +3.3V and +5V rails will not have a problem with the new low power sleep states. The reason is based around the DC to DC converter, used to convert +12V to +3.3V and +5V. This design ensures that there will always be load on the +12V regards of the load the CPU places on the power supply.”
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Corsair also sent over one of their H100i coolers which we reviewed back in November last year, it is one of the best mainstream ‘all in one’ coolers money can buy. You can read our full review over here.

Special thanks to Corsair for outfitting us with much of our partnering equipment for this review today.

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When we first fired up the Asus Z87 Sabertooth, the bios was a working engineering version and the voltage was set incorrectly for the Core i7 4770k.
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Luckily we received an updated BIOS direct from ASUS and flashed immediately. This resolved the issues.

I have always preferred ASUS bios configurations to any of their competitors and I was able to immediately find my way around this BIOS without a problem. The user is immediately presented with a simplified version of the BIOS with some pre-configured options and a boot priority section along the bottom.
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We opted for ‘advanced’ mode – as the majority of enthusiast users will be using this section for finer configurations and to overclock. The ‘Main’ menu highlights the BIOS revision, build date, the processor details and clock speed. We used the XMP profile to set up the Corsair Vengeance correctly to 2,400mhz.
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The AI Tweaker section is the main overclocking panel and one you will be spending a lot of time within. Those of you who have used an ASUS bios before will find this immediately comfortable and intuitive. All the settings are in a long scrollable menu system. We will look at this closer shortly when we overclock.
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Along the bottom of this section are the voltage details for the i7 4770k. The Asus Z87 Sabertooth defaults the processor to 0.992V.
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The Advanced panel offers configuration options for various sections of the board, such as the SATA and USB controllers.
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The Monitor and Boot panels allow checking of temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. You can configure the boot priority and fast boot options also.
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To get stability when overclocking we used the settings above within the dedicated DIGI+ Power Control panel. There are plenty of settings to enhance the board when overclocking and to reduce the dreaded VDROOP. Level 8 load line calibration worked best along with extreme Power Phase control and Power Duty Control. We also changed the Current capability to 100%.

We achieved stability at 4.4ghz by increasing the voltage to 1.2. Time to push higher.
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We first tested a maximum ‘safe’ voltage for the processor, by increasing the dual fan and pump speeds to ‘performance’ on the Corsair H100i (there is very little if any difference using ‘maximum fan settings’ as the cooler was reaching its limits under load). We found that with the voltage at 1.225v, the 4770k temperatures peaked around 83c under load. If we increased higher then the temperatures would peak in excess of 85c>, which is a little high for our tastes.
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Validation is available over here.

With the voltage set at 1.25 we achieved PRIME stability at 4.5ghz. We did manage to get the processor overclocked to 4.7ghz, but voltage needed to be set at 1.3v and the temperatures were just too high for long term use. A higher grade watercooling kit would be needed to push this particular sample past 4.5ghz long term.

We spoke with some industry insiders before going live this weekend with our reviews and we were told that the Haswell chips seem to show huge variance in regards to the overclocking capabilities – some of them hit 4.9ghz and others only 4.2ghz.

We attempted to achieve the maximum overclock possible and get a post into windows. The 4770k posted at 4.9ghz with 1.35 volts but the core temperatures hit over 100c under load and it was far from prime stable. Still, if you are interested to know potential on tap, the Asus board seems to have plenty.

Remember, it is always important to use an overclock and voltage settings that won’t kill the processor over time … unless you are rich or make a living out of overclocking hardware to the limits.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
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We installed Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit on this system today. Our polls on the Kitguru main site and Facebook page have shown a huge percentage of our readers are still in favour of Windows 7. Our own internal testing shows very little difference between the operating systems in regards to gaming or synthetic benchmark testing, so we are staying with Windows 7 for the time being.

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Our test system today is based around the new Intel Core i7 4770k processor running at default clock speeds of 3.5ghz and when overclocked to 4.5ghz. We are using 16GB of Corsair Vengeance Pro Series memory running from an XMP profile at 2,400mhz with 10-12-12-31 2T timings.

We are using an ASUS GTX670 graphics card today running at 928mhz core and 1,502mhz (6Gbps effective) from the GDDR5 memory. This is a very powerful solution ideal for gaming with the latest Direct X 11 titles at 1080p.

We are using the 30 inch Dell U3011 for this review today:

Asus Z87 Sabertooth System
Processor: Intel Core i7 4770k (3.5ghz & 4.5ghz)
Motherboard: Asus Z87 Sabertooth
Cooler:
Corsair H100i (performance mode)
Graphics: Nvidia GTX670
Memory:
16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro Series @ 2,400mhz (10-12-12-31 2T)
Power Supply:
Corsair HX750
Optical Drive:
Asus BluRay Drive.
Chassis:
Lian Li X2000
Boot Drive:
Patriot 240GB Pyro SE
Storage Drive:
Patriot 240GB Wildfire.

Comparison Systems (for specific synthetic test compares):

Processor: Intel Core i7 3770k
Motherboard:
Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe
Cooler:
Arctic Cooling Freezer 13
Memory:
16GB G.Skill @ 2,400mhz 11-11-11-31.
Power Supply:
ADATA 1200W.
Optical Drive:
Asus BluRay Drive.
Chassis:
Cooler Master Cosmos 2.
Boot Drive:
Kingston SSDNow V+200 90GB.
Storage Drive:
Patriot 240GB Wildfire.

Intel E5 2687W x 2

Motherboard: Asus Z9 PE-D8 WS
Coolers: Corsair H80 x2
Memory: 64GB Kingston Predator 1,600mhz 9-9-9-24 1T
Power Supply: Seasonic 1000W Platinum Modular
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: Lian Li X2000FN
Boot Drive: Corsair 240GB Neutron GTX SSD
Secondary Drive: Corsair 240GB Neutron SSD

Intel E5 2660
Motherboard: Gigabyte X79S-UP5-WIFI
Cooler: Corsair H100
Memory: 16GB G.Skill ARES 2,133mhz @ 9-11-10-28
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: Lian Li X2000a
Boot Drive: Intel 510 120GB
Secondary Drive: Patriot 240GB WildFire

Intel i7 3960X EE
Motherboard: Asus P9X79 WS WorkStation
Cooler: Corsair H100
Memory: 8GB Corsair Dominator GT8 2400mhz memory
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Optical Drive: Asus BluRay Drive
Chassis: Cooler Master Cosmos 2
Boot Drive: Crucial C300 128GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 240GB Pyro SE

Intel i7 3820
Motherboard: ASRock Extreme4-M
Cooler: Intel reference cooler
Memory: 8GB Corsair GTX8 @ 2133mhz
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: Lian Li PC60
Boot Drive: Crucial C300
Secondary Drive: Patriot Pyro SE 240GB

Intel i5 3570K @ 4.2 – OCUK Prodigy Arctic Gaming System
Motherboard: ASRock Z77E-ITX Intel Z77
Cooler: Coolit Liquid
Memory: Corsair Vengeance White 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit
Power Supply: OCZ ZS 750W PSU
Chassis: Bitfenix Prodigy Mini ITX Case – White
Boot Drive: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive: 1TB HDD

AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Processor: AMD FX 8150 Black Edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire

Intel Core i7 990X
Processor: Intel Core i7 990x
Cooler: Corsair H100
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1 Assassin
Memory: Kingston HyperX 6GB
Drives: Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Chassis: Antec Twelve Hundred

Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)

Intel Core i7 2700k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2700k
Cooling: ThermalTake Frio OCK
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Chassis: Silverstone Raven 3.
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory
Storage: Intel 80GB SSD (boot) / Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD.

Intel Core i7 2600k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2600k
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen 3
Cooler: Intel XTS-100H
Memory: ADATA 1600mhz DDR3 8GB (2x4GB)
Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 850W
Boot Drive: Intel 510 SSD 250GB

Intel Core i5 2500k
Processor: Intel Core i7 2500k
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard
Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2 CPU Cooler
Memory: Corsair 1600mhz memory 8GB (2x4GB)
Power Supply: Corsair 850W.
Boot Drive: Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD.

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T 
Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
Cooler: Noctua NH D14
Memory: G-SKill Ripjaws 1600mhz 8GB (2x 4GB)
Power Supply: ADATA 1200W
Chassis: SilverStone Raven 3
Boot Drive: Intel 40GB SSD
Secondary Drive: Patriot 120GB WildFire.

Software:
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
3DMark
PCMark 7
Cinebench 11.5 64 bit
FRAPS Professional
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 11
Cyberlink MediaEspresso
HQV Benchmark V2.
Atto Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark
HQV Benchmark 2.0
SiSoft Sandra

Games:
Tomb Raider (DX11)
Total War: Shogun 2 (DX11)
Dirt Showdown (DX 11)
Sleeping Dogs (DX 11)


Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:

Asus USB BluRay Drive
Lacie 730 Monitor (Image Quality testing)
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter
Nikon D3X with R1C1 Kit (4 flashes), Nikon 24-70MM lens.

Game descriptions are edited with courtesy from Wikipedia.
PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.
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The system scores well at the default clock speed. When overclocked to 4.5ghz the score increases by around 400 points to 6,591 points.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
3dmark11
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The system scores 8,909 in the default clock state. Increasing to 4.5ghz boosts the score by just over 100 points to 9,067 points.

3DMark is an essential tool used by millions of gamers, hundreds of hardware review sites and many of the world’s leading manufacturers to measure PC gaming performance.

Use it to test your PC’s limits and measure the impact of overclocking and tweaking your system.

Search our massive results database and see how your PC compares or just admire the graphics and wonder why all PC games don’t look this good.To get more out of your PC, put 3DMark in your PC.
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3DMark is a very intensive Direct X 11 graphics test. The system scores just over 5,900 points. Overclocking by 1ghz doesn’t deliver any tangible benefits.

Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp.

It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

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unigine heaven
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The system scores well, averaging almost 76 frames per second.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”.

We think that’s quite fitting.It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

sandra arith

sandra memory
cpu arithcryptosandra multimediamemory
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The system scores slightly better than the Intel Core i7 3770k when both are left at the default BIOS settings at 3.5ghz. We can also see that the 4770k has the edge on the 3770k, even with a 100mhz clock deficit. (4.5ghz v 4.6ghz).

CINEBENCH R11.5 64 Bit is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.
ceinebench
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The 3D rendering performance of the new 4770k is higher than the 3770k, out of the box. When we overclock the 4770k to 4.5ghz, the performance just falls short of 10 points, which is a remarkable achievement for a quad core processor. It actually scores a little more than the 2700k with a 500mhz clock advantage (5.0ghz).

V2011 is the first release of 3DStudio Max to fully support the Windows 7 operating system. This is a professional level tool that many people use for work purposes and our test will show any possible differences between board design today.

Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 software offers compelling new techniques to help bring designs to life by aggregating data, iterating ideas, and presenting the results.

Streamlined, more intelligent data exchange workflows and innovative new modeling and visualization tools help significantly increase designers’ creativity and productivity, enabling them to better explore, validate, and communicate the stories behind their designs.

Major new features:

  • Slate: A node based material editor.
  • Quicksilver: Hardware renderer with multithreaded rendering engine that utilizes both CPU and GPU.
  • Extended Graphite Modeling Toolset
  • 3ds Max Composite: A HDRI-capable compositor based on Autodesk Toxik.
  • Viewport Canvas toolset for 3D and 2D texture painting directly in the viewport
  • Object Painting: use 3D geometry as ‘brushes’ on other geometry
  • Character Animation Toolkit (CAT): now integrated as part of the base package
  • Autodesk Material Library: Over 1200 new photometrically accurate shaders
  • Additional file format support: includes native support for Sketchup, Inventor
  • FBX file linking
  • Save to Previous Release (2010)

We created a new 8200×3200 scene and recorded the time for the hardware to finalise the render.
3dstudio max
These results show the 4770k has a noticeable edge over the 3770k when it comes to rendering intensive 3D scenes, cutting the time by 11 seconds at default BIOS settings on the Asus Z78 Sabretooth motherboard. When overclocked to 4.5ghz, the final time drops by around 20 seconds.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

New and Improved Features

  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.

For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are using the latest version of the software.

We test with hardware acceleration disabled and then enabled to monitor the changes. We use the same graphics card in both systems.
video encoding
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We can see the 4770k delivers some improvements in the latest beta version of MediaEspresso reducing encoding times by around 20-30 seconds.

We measure the system USB 3.0 performance by using the excellent Patriot SuperSonic Magnum 256GB USB 3.0 drive, which we reviewed back in February this year.
usb3 crysdtaj
Performance via the USB 3.0 ports is excellent, scoring 275 MB/s read and 164 MB/s write, in the sequential tests. Due to the nature of this kind of flash, and via the USB 3.0 interface, 4k and 4k QD32 performance is substantially worse than from a native SSD drive across a SATA connector.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.
usb3atto
Performance via the ATTO disk benchmark is slightly worse than CrystalDiskMark, scoring a peak around 260 MB/s in the read test and 75 MB/s in the write test. Still excellent results for this kind of flash drive.
We measure performance of the Patriot Wildfire 256GB Solid State Drive when connected to the Intel Z78 Express Chipset controller.
crystaldisk
Performance is excellent, scoring around 490-500MB/s in the sequential read and write tests. The 4K QD32 results are excellent as well.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.
atto
The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance results are excellent across the Patriot Wildfire drive, scoring around 550MB/s in the read test and 515MB/s in the write test. No bottleneck concerns from the onboard Z78 controller.

After a delayed release from late 2012 to March 2013, the game received much anticipation and hype. Tomb Raider received much acclaim from critics, who praised the graphics, the gameplay and Camilla Luddington’s performance as Lara with many critics agreeing that the game is a solid and much needed reboot of the franchise. Much criticism went to the addition of the multiplayer which many felt was unnecessary. Tomb Raider went on to sell one million copies in forty-eight hours of its release, and has sold 3.4 million copies worldwide so far.

We like to use settings that enthusiast users would adopt themselves. No one plays the latest Direct X 11 titles at 1024×768 with low IQ, especially with this expensive flagship hardware.

Both Core i7 systems are running at 4.5ghz on ASUS motherboards with 2,400mhz memory and the same GTX670 graphics card. It is not completely scientific, but as close as we can match.
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We configured the game to use the ‘Ultimate’ quality profile and cranked the image quality settings, as shown above. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.
tom raider
TombRaider 2013-05-26 19-02-17-85
The end results are very close in this test, which relies a lot on the graphics card.
Sleeping Dogs started development as an original title, but was announced in 2009 as True Crime: Hong Kong, the third installment and a reboot of the True Crime series. As a result of the game’s high development budget and delays, it was canceled by Activision Blizzard in 2011. Six months later, it was announced that Square Enix had picked up the publishing rights to the game, but the game was renamed Sleeping Dogs in 2012 since Square Enix did not purchase the True Crime name rights.
HKShip 2013-05-26 18-28-17-19HKShip 2013-05-26 18-28-24-95
We configured the game to use the highest quality image settings, as shown above. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.

We like to use settings that enthusiast users would adopt themselves. No one plays the latest Direct X 11 titles at 1024×768 with low IQ, especially with this expensive flagship hardware.

Both Core i7 systems are running at 4.5ghz on ASUS motherboards with 2,400mhz memory and the same GTX670 graphics card. It is not completely scientific, but as close as we can match. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.
sleeping dogs
HKShip 2013-05-26 18-30-30-75
Great performance from both Intel systems, with the 4770k coming out slightly on top.
Dirt Showdown is the latest title in the franchise from Codemasters, based around the famous Colin McRae racing game series, although it no longer uses his name, since he passed away in 2007.

showdown_avx 2013-05-26 18-32-16-36showdown_avx 2013-05-26 18-32-20-68
We configured the game to use high quality image settings, as shown above. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.

We like to use settings that enthusiast users would adopt themselves. No one plays the latest Direct X 11 titles at 1024×768 with low IQ, especially with this expensive flagship hardware.

Both Core i7 systems are running at 4.5ghz on ASUS motherboards with 2,400mhz memory and the same GTX670 graphics card. It is not completely scientific, but as close as we can match. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.
dirt showdown
showdown_avx 2013-05-26 18-33-48-73
The 4770k comes out on top, by a small margin. This wouldn’t be noticeable in the real world.

Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan.

The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
shogun-2-settings
We run the DX11 Graphics High 1080p benchmark, available for this game in STEAM. You can therefore directly compare against your own system. Frame rates are rounded up or down to the nearest digit.

Both Core i7 systems are running at 4.5ghz on ASUS motherboards with 2,400mhz memory and the same GTX670 graphics card. It is not completely scientific, but as close as we can match. We use the built in benchmark to get accurate, repeatable results for these specific tests.
shogun 2
shogun2
Excellent results from both systems, averaging around 74 frames per second in the built in benchmark.

ACC_1740_DxO
Just before the reviews went live, G.Skill sent us over a 16GB kit of their 2,933mhz memory for Haswell testing. We therefore wanted to add a little section close to the end of this review to ascertain Z87 Sabertooth memory performance when pushed past 2,400mhz and even 2,666mhz – the previous standards for ultra high performance memory.

We will be reviewing this memory in a standalone review at later date.
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The G.Skill kit arrives in a large brown box, with a dedicated fan cooling system included. There was a phase when every memory manufacturer was including these as standard, but they seem to have lost popularity.
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The G.Skill Trident X 2,933mhz memory is very attractively design, featuring red and black heatspreaders.
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The Trident X 2933mhz memory is set at 12-14-14-35 timings @ 1.65 volts. According to the sticker, it is ‘Intel XMP ready’.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We loaded the XMP profile in the Asus Z87 Sabertooth bios, and it seemed to load fine as shown above. with 12-14-14-35-2N timings. It would only post at 2,400mhz however, so we needed to get creative.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
We loaded the XMP profile and backed down the 4770k overclock to a multipler of x37 on each core. We then increased the BCLK frequency to 122mhz. This pushed the memory to 2,928mhz while increasing the Core i7 4770k speed back to around 4,500mhz.
validation 2900mhz
CPU Validation is available here. (multiplier shows x25 but memory speed is correct).

It seems there are still some problems getting the XMP profile to correctly load 2933mhz speeds, but with a little tweaking, getting to the same clock speeds manually is straightforward enough.
Today we are measuring the system wattage at the wall socket via a calibrated meter.

The system power drain was measured in the following states:

Idle: when resting at the desktop.

Gaming Load: 3Dmark 11 ‘combined test’.

power consumption
Overall system draw at default clock speeds/voltage settings is very impressive, only demanding 75 watts at idle. This rises to 265 watts when under 3dMark11 combined load. When overclocked the wattage draw increases to 121 watts when idle and 303 watts under load.
The Asus Z87 Sabertooth is a killer motherboard which proved very stable throughout the last week of extensive stress testing, delivering excellent all round performance results.

The Thermal Armor has proven popular with a select audience of enthusiast users, ensuring the board gets plenty of cooling under high load situations. The optional fans are supplied if you want to push voltages to the limit, although we found that we didn’t need to use them ourselves during regular overclocking.

We do love the Asus BIOS configurations. They haven’t changed their layout style dramatically since the last generation, meaning long term users will feel immediately at home when navigating. If you read our other review today on the GA-Z87X-OC you will already have seen the dramatic changes that Gigabyte have implemented for the Haswell platform, a long overdue move ahead for them.

ASUS didn’t really need such a dramatic change and veterans of their BIOS layouts will feel immediately at home. Most of the settings follow similar guidelines to the BIOS they implemented with Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge products.

Overclocking the ASUS board is straightforward, and we had no problems running with a 2,400mhz XMP profile on the Corsair memory, and pushing new ultra high performance G.Skill Trident X memory to around 3,000mhz. There are plenty of voltage and power delivery options to negate DROOP concerns, most of which are found in the DIGI+ Power Control panel.

The CPU Load-Line Calibration menu works very well and ensures stability can be meet at higher clock speed under load. When combined with the Power Phase Control and Power Duty Control settings, there is every possibility of getting high, stable overclocks.

Both USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps performance met our expectations, we managed to score close to 280 MB/s from a Patriot SuperSonic Magnum 256GB flash drive and around 550 MB/s sequential throughput from the WildFire Solid State Drive.

The Z87 chipset has all SATA 3 connectors, rather than leaving the end user fumbling through a user manual to find out which will work best with a new Solid State Drive. The ASUS Sabertooth has two additional SATA connectors over the Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC, thanks to the incorporation of an additional ASMedia 6GBps controller.

We had no problems pairing this board up with the Intel Core i7 4770k processor. We achieved a prime stable overclock of 1GHZ while maintaining a reasonable thermal curve. Our 4770k sample runs very hot, even with 1.225 volts and we hope to get our hands on another sample in the near future to see if this is common, or just isolated. Thankfully the Corsair H100i coped with the hot running chip delivering a stable playing field at 4.5ghz.

The 4770k is undoubtedly faster than the 3770k on a clock per clock basis, however our 3770k sample overclocks quite easily to 5ghz and runs cooler than the 4770k engineering sample that Intel sent us. At 5ghz the 3770k will clearly outclass the 4.5ghz 4770k in a variety of duties.

This makes it a little difficult for us to recommend that everyone head online and spend a lot of money moving to the new 4770k, especially if your 3770k runs cool and overclocks to 4.8ghz – 5ghz without hassle. We have spoken to several system builders in the United Kingdom this week and they tell us that they will be not pushing their 4770k systems past 4.4ghz and they may even aim closer to 4.2ghz.

Intel have made a lot of progress in regards to power consumption and the onboard HD4600 graphics is much more capable than the previous iteration (check out the Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC review we published today). That said, I don’t know many people who would be buying a 4770k and not pairing it up with a discrete graphics card for more serious duties. I can’t think that an enthusiast user would adopt a 4770k for a media center system either.

The recommendation for the move to a new Haswell 4770k system is a little more difficult if you are currently running with an overclocked 3770k. The benefits just don’t seem tangible enough to warrant the cost of a new motherboard and processor. We would recommend saving your pennies until the next generation.

 Pros:

  • Built to take overclocking abuse.
  • Stable under load.
  • Fully loaded BIOS.
  • Intuitive layout.
  • 8 x SATA 6Gbps connectors
  • coped easily enough with memory close to 3,000mhz.

Cons:

  • Our 4770k sample runs hot over 1.225 volts, limiting the overclock we could get from the ASUS Z87 Sabertooth board.
  • A post at 4.9ghz was possible, but the Corsair H100i couldn’t handle the high voltage. (temperatures of 100c+).

Kitguru says: This board will prove popular with the ASUS audience. The BIOS hasn’t been changed too much, and will feel immediately intuitive to an ASUS veteran. Plenty of overclocking settings, including class leading voltage regulation options. Superb motherboard.
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