by Rob Williams on July 16, 2010 in Motherboards
In the market for a dual-GPU capable AMD motherboard, and one that’s capable of achieving some huge overclocks? Gigabyte has you covered, with its 890FXA-UD5. In addition to having native SATA 3.0 support, USB 3.0 support can also be found, along with 4 PCI-E x16 graphics slots, a near-perfect board design and good pricing.
At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.
If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.
The table below lists the hardware for our current motherboard-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all testing, with the exception of the motherboard. Each motherboard used for the sake of comparison is also listed here, along with the BIOS version used. In addition, each one of the URLs in this table can be clicked to view the respective review of that product, or if a review doesn’t exist, you will be led to the product on the manufacturer’s website.
When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:
- No power-saving options are altered in the motherboard’s BIOS.
- Internet is disabled.
- No Virus Scanner or Firewall is installed.
- The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
- Machine has proper airflow and the room temperature is 80°F (27°C) or less.
Windows 7 Optimizations
- User Account Control (UAC) and Action Center messages are disabled.
- Windows Defender, Firewall, Printer Spooling, Security Center, Search, Tablet PC Input and Updates are disabled.
Because it gives a more realistic interpretation of motherboard/CPU performance, we leave all of the power-related options in the BIOS to their default selection.
To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.
About the Benchmarks
For all intents and purposes, we don’t benchmark motherboards to see which performs better than the other, because unlike processors, graphics cards, and many other PC components, motherboards are not purchased for their speed, because any with a given chipset should perform like all the rest. Most often, a purchase of a motherboard comes down to features, design and overclocking-ability. None of these are affected by performance benchmarking.
Rather, the goal we set out when benchmarking motherboards is to make sure that one doesn’t falter in some way compared to the rest, so even though we do run benchmarks typical of our other performance-related articles, we use them here more as a stress-test. That way, if a motherboard does have a fault in some regard, we’ll be able to spot it.
For the sake of accomplishing this, we use Adobe’s Lightroom 3.0, Autodesk’s 3ds Max 2010, Futuremark’s 3DMark and PCMark Vantage, HD Tune Pro 3.5, SANDRA 2010 SP2, SPECviewperf 11 and TMPGEnc Xpress. Stability of the motherboard is tested at stock and overclocked speeds with LinX 0.6.4, an effective LINPACK stress-tester.
Aside from 3DMark Vantage, we don’t perform any game-related tests, as our experience has proved to us that they are a waste of time. You simply are not going to notice a difference between gaming on one motherboard and gaming on another, but we do use 3DMark Vantage for its ease, and its ability to push the entire system hard.