Subsystem and Gaming Benchmarks
Six SATA 6G ports and USB 3.0 ports are provided natively by the Z170 chipset:
Before proceeding with audio benchmarks, Deferred Procedure Call latency must be first checked to make sure that the system is capable of producing useable results when the Rightmark Audio Analyzer benchmark was run. DPC is a Windows function that involves prioritizing tasks within the OS and high DPC latencies can be caused by several things including hardware device conflict. The DPC Latency Monitor graphically displays the latency level of the system in real time.
After leaving the system running for one hour, the absolute maximum peaked at 185 microseconds while the system average for the most part stayed well below that. This means that there should be no hardware related issues or interruptions in terms of audio/video streaming performance while running the motherboard. Now we can run RightMark Audio Analyzer tests using a short 3-inch 3.5mm audioloop cable that goes in the rear line-in and line-out ports for a loopback test to objectively test internal audio performance. 16-bit 44, 48, 96 and 192kHz settings were used with all effects disabled as usual. Although the Realtek ALC898 has 24-bit output up to 192kHz, the line-in only does 16-bit. The front audio uses a CMedia 120B 2.1 audio and has 16-bit 44 and 48kHz output tested:
Onboard audio (Realtek ALC898):
Gaming Commander audio box (CMedia CM120B):
The results do not look particularly stellar here for the front panel box but this is as expected considering the noise cannot be eliminated unless shielded from interference. I saw the same issue when I reviewed the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC, although this time it is not a $300 motherboard.
Network testing was conducted with a 4-port Cisco E3200 Gigabit Dual-Band Wireless N router and a pair of 6-ft long Cat5E cables connecting the server PC and the test motherboard. The server system is running an Intel Core i7-5775C processor on an Asrock Z97 Extreme 4 motherboard with an Intel i218-v PHY. Interrupt Moderation was disabled, running TCP and UDP tests.
Futuremark’s 3DMark is a semi-synthetic gaming benchmark that calculates both graphics and CPU-bound physics in a controlled series of tests and provides scores that can be compared with other gaming platforms. Unigine Heaven is a synthetic benchmark that is completely GPU bound for testing possible PCI-E graphics performance inconsistencies.
A gaming test run for Bioshock Infinite at the lowest resolution and settings was performed as well as a test with maximum details at a 1920 x 1080 resolution. CPU performance difference can be gauged due to the reduced reliance on the discrete GPU at those low levels theoretically but a high resolution benchmark was also conducted to see if there are inconsistencies with PCI-E graphics performance.