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 and cleanly. Sound reproduction quality was slightly degraded with the Headphone virtualization setting checked using the Razer headset though.
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 with recording volume set to 75. There were no adverse effects or impacts detected after enabling noise suppression or echo cancellation via the Realtek drivers.
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. 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 selected SSD has a maximum 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.
Devices connected to the SATA III ports on the Intel Z97-based controller performed as expected with transfer rates pushing the boundaries of the connected device's performance limits.
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 Realtek GigE NIC performed amazingly well with its performance on par with Intel-based controllers tested on previous boards. Transfer rates for upload and download remained close to one another with upload besting download speed by a mere 8 MB/s at an average rate of 115 MB/s. During all testing, CPU utilization averaged an impressive 2% with spikes as high as 13% during upload tests, while staying below 5% spikes during download tests.