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 app provided test sounds and audio test tracks was clear and distortion free with the 7.1 speaker setup going through the integrated analogue audio ports.
Listening tests using the selected audio tracks were performed with a Kingston HyperX Cloud Gaming audio headset as well as a 5.1 speaker setup to exercise the subsystem's audio fidelity. In both cases, audio reproduction was clear, rich, and distortion-free with little quality difference between the listening sessions. However, the DTS Connect functionality in the audio driver needed to be enabled for sound to broadcast from all speakers in the 5.1 audio setup
Microphone Port Testing
For testing the board's Microphone input port, the microphone from a Kingston HyperX Cloud Gaming 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 and recording volume set to 50. There was no performance or clarity differences heard with the Noise Suppression or Echo Cancellation settings enabled in the audio driver.
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 as well as the SATA-Express device ports. NGFF port testing was performed using an M.2 based Plextor PCIe M.2 2280 128GB SSD. The M.2 device was tested using the board's integrated M.2 slot. 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 M.2 SSD selected for testing has a maximum read throughput of 770 MB/s and a write throughput of 335 MB/s over a PCI-Express x2 bus. The selected SSD 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.
All SSD's performed as expected with no performance difference seen when using the standalone and SATA Express SATA ports. In both cases, the Vertex drive pushed the limits of its rated throughput during the tests. The M.2 drive was the overall performance king, again as expected, with its performance also pushing the device's rated 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, the lowest repeatable average CPU utilization, and lowest repeatable performance spike percentages recorded.
Note that that theoretical maximum throughput for a Gigabit Ethernet adapter is 125 MB/s (1.0 Gbps).
ASUS did a fine job with integrating the Intel I219-V controller into the Z170-A motherboard. The controller's upload and download averaged an impressive 115 MB/s for all tests. CPU utilization averaged at or below an impressive 2% during all test runs with higher than expected utilization spikes just above 10% during upload testing.