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.

Listening tests using the selected audio tracks were performed with a Razer Carcharias audio headset as well as a 5.1 speaker setup to exercise the subsystem's audio fidelity. There were no distortion issues using either setup with sound reproduction coming though clearly. However, DTS connect had to be enabled for sound to be routed through all speakers with the 5.1 speaker setup in use.

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.

Even though the recorded audio remained distortion-free at all levels, audio pickup sounded muted until Microphone Boost was set to +20dB. Sound pickup was greatly enhanced with the Sonic Tools settings enabled, requiring a recording volume of 50.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

To validate that the board’s device ports were functioning correctly, we connected an OCZ Vertex 460 240GB 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. NGFF port testing was performed using an M.2 to SATA III device adapter mPCIe card. 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 540 MB/s and a write throughput of 525 MB/s on a SATA III controller. The drive tests were repeated three times with the highest repeatable read and write speeds recorded.

Note that no testing was done using a proper M.2 SSD in the Combo III M.2 port because the M.2 SSD card would not fit into the M.2 port with the Combo III card engaged in its rear panel port. This issue was caused by spacing issues in between the Combo III card and the CrossChill VRM cooler upper wall.

Across the board, SSD performance with devices on the Intel Z97 integrated controller out performed devices on the ASMedia-controlled ports. In all cases, the device speeds seen on the SSD connect to the Intel controlled ports maxed out the read and write speeds for that SSD. Devices on the ASMedia controller approached transfer rates of only 400MB/s.

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).

The network transfer test results Fell as expected for file transfer tests in both directions with upload average speed besting that of download by an average of 8 MB/s, coming in with an average speed of 118 MB/s. CPU utilization was surprisingly low as well, not breaking 5% during load spikes with averages considerably lower during all transfer tests. Note that we encountered an anomaly between the Intel GigE controller and the ASUS GameFirst application drivers, where the GameFirst application causes performance degradation most felt during file download operations. This performance degradation was addressed in version 1.00.11 of the GameFirst application, and confirmed by PC Perspective in testing.

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