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 and distortion-free with little quality difference between the two audio setups.

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 10 second spoken phrase with the assistance of the Microsoft Voice Recorder application. The resulting audio file was saved and played back through the app.

Audio pickup was muted without Microphone Boost enabled with best voice reproduction requiring a minimum recording volume of 75% and Microphone Boost a +20dB. No distortion was evident during playback of record audio, but audibility was muted with lesser settings. With Noise Suppression and Acoustic Audio Cancellation enabled, voice capture remained unaffected and distortion-free.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

To validate that the board’s device ports were functioning correctly, we connected a Samsung 850 EVO 250GB 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, the SATA-Express device ports, the USB 3.0 ports, and USB 3.1 Gen2 ports. NGFF port testing was performed using an M.2 based Samsung 950 Pro PCIe M.2 2280 256GB SSD. The M.2 device was tested using the board's integrated M.2 slot. USB port testing performed using the SSD in a USB 3.1 Gen 2 compatible enclosure. 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 2200 MB/s and a write throughput of 900 MB/s over a PCI-Express x4 bus. The selected SSD has a maximum read throughput of 540 MB/s and a write throughput of 520 MB/s on a SATA III controller. The drive tests were repeated three times with the highest repeatable read and write speeds recorded.

On the Z170 Intel controller ports, the SSDs performance fell as expected with little performance difference between the SATA and SATA-Express ports. Performance fell significantly with a drive connected to the ASMedia SATA ports, barely managing to outperform a USB 3.0-based device at just of 400 MB/s. The Samsung 950 Pro drive outperformed all the other devices, but exhibited a write performance ceiling just under 1700 MB/s because of the M.2 PCIe x2 bandwidth limit. For the USB-based device testing, the USB 3.1 GEN 2 port connected drive did outperform the USB 3.0 device but fell short of expectations with speeds measured between 400 – 450 MB/s and the USB 3.0 port with speeds around 350 MB/s. The USB 3.1 Gen 2 port's performance limitations are more likely because of performance inconsistencies between the adapter and the port rather than a USB chipset implementation issue.

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).

The integrated network controller performed well within expectations, averaging 116 MB/s for both upload and download runs. The CPU utilization numbers measured equally strong with averages remaining under 10% for the duration of all test runs with some momentary performance spiking during the download tests of just over 10%.

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