Integrated 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 using the audio test tracks was clear and distortion free using a 7.1 speaker setup through the on-board analogue audio ports.

Audio playback using music tracks using either a Razer Carcharias audio headset or a 5.1 speaker setup was also distortion free and enjoyable. In the case of headset use, sound reproduction was found to be crisper with the Amplifier Settting option in the ASUS sound app set to Auto Switch mode. With this option set to Front Panel, sound coming through the headset was flatter and muted compared to the Auto Switch mode.

Microphone Port Testing

For testing the board's Microphone input port, the microphone from a Razer Carcharias audio headset 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 recorded audio playback was distortion free and clean, but very low. The audio pickup was inaudible without the volume set to a minimum of 70% and Microphone Boost set to its full +30db setting. Audio pickup was best with input volume set to 90%. Even at these settings, pickup remained clean and distortion free.

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. The SSD was directly connected to the native SATA 3 ports as well as one of the SATA ports associated with the SATA Express interface. ATTO was configured to test against transfer sizes from 0.5 to 8192 KB with Total Length set to 512 MB and Queue Depth set to 10. 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 controller. The drive tests were repeated three times with the highest repeatable read and write speeds recorded.

SSD performance on the ports tied to the Intel Z97 controller was equivalent usign both the standalone ports and the ports tied to the SATA Express interface. Both read and write speeds pushed the limits of the SSD, coming in at over 550 MB/s for read operations and about 525 MB/s for writes. SSD performance on the ASMedia ports was significantly less in comparison, hovering between 375 – 400 MB/s for read and write performance.

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.

The LanBench network benchmarking software was used to generate send and receive traffic between the local and remote systems over a five minute period with packet size set to 4096 and connection count set to 20. A LanBench server was set up on the remote system to generate or receive traffic for the tests performed. The upload and download tests were repeated three times with the highest repeatable average throughput and the lowest repeatable average CPU utilization percentage recorded.

Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter is 125 MB/s (1.0 Gbps).

Performance on both the Intel and Realtek-based controllers were surprisingly close with the Intel controller having only a slight performance advantage. Both controllers maintained average transfer rates between 115 – 120 MB/s during download and upload tests. CPU utilization remained below 10% for both controllers as well with the Intel controller exhibiting slightly lower CPU usage during the tests.

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