Haswell is just the latest Intel CPU architecture to see many of the critical system operations handled by the processor. As such, benchmarking a motherboard becomes more of a test to certify that the part operates correctly and meets the anticipated performance levels.
We will be outlining the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard's performance with the Core i7 4770K CPU at its stock frequency (3.9GHz due to forced turbo). Overclocked performance will be outlined later in the review.
Performance of the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard will be compared to that of four other Z97 parts. All motherboards are partnered with identical hardware and software, so the results are directly comparable.
By default, the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard applies multi-core turbo (MCT) and forces the 4770K to a constant 3.9GHz when XMP is enabled. This will be displayed as the ‘stock’ setting (and outlined in the charts’ brackets after the non-turbo stock speed is displayed).
Gigabyte automatically sets the MCT VCore level at 1.20V via the UEFI (which increases to 1.212V due to loading). 1.20V seems common for a 3.9GHz 4770K and should be simple enough to tame, even for entry-level CPU coolers.
Note: CPU-Z does not read the correct CPU core voltage values from the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard. We tested HWMonitor v1.25 and found that it displayed the correct level under the CPU VCORE title. Gigabyte's EasyTune software also displayed the correct voltage levels (which were confirmed via a multimeter reading).
Support for the PCIe-based M.2 storage interface is one of the key features for the Z97 chipset. We use Plextor's ultra-fast M6e 256GB M.2 SSD to test the speed of a motherboard's M.2 connector. We reviewed the 512GB Plextor M6e (and its PCIe x2 adapter card) HERE.
We also use a Kingston M.2 SATA device to confirm the motherboard's operation with M.2 SATA connections.
Z97 Motherboard Test System:
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4770K Retail (3.9GHz forced turbo).
- Memory: 16GB (2x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400MHz CL10.
- Graphics Card: Asus R9 280X Matrix Platinum 3GB.
- System Drive: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II SSD.
- CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i.
- Case: NZXT Phantom 630.
- Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum 1000W.
- Operating System: Windows 7 Professional with SP1 64-bit.
Compared Z97 Motherboards:
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer.
- Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1.
- Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK Black Edition.
- MSI Z97 Gaming 5.
- Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 BIOS F4 (latest).
- Catalyst 14.4 VGA drivers.
- Intel 10.0 chipset drivers.
- 3DMark 1.1.0 – Fire Strike (System)
- SiSoft Sandra 2014 SP2 – Processor arithmetic, memory bandwidth (System)
- Cinebench R15 – All-core CPU benchmark (CPU)
- WinRAR 5.01 – Built-in benchmark (CPU)
- HandBrake 0.9.9 – Convert 4.36GB 720P MKV to MP4 (CPU)
- ATTO – SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, M.2 transfer rates (Motherboard)
- RightMark Audio Analyzer – General audio performance test (Motherboard)
- Bioshock Infinite – 1920 x 1080, ultra quality (Gaming)
- Metro: Last Light – 1920 x 1080, high quality (Gaming)
- Tomb Raider – 1920 x 1080, ultimate quality (Gaming)