If you’re looking for a good Z77 motherboard to pair up with that shiny Ivy Bridge CPU but don’t want to break the bank, MSI’s Z77A-GD55 is well worth a look. Despite its modest $165 price-tag, the GD55 offers a rich feature-set, looks good, has a robust EFI and even makes overclocking easy for those who don’t care for the manual route.
Photo manipulation benchmarks are more relevant than ever given the proliferation of high-end digital photography hardware. For this benchmark, we test the system’s handling of RAW photo data using Adobe Lightroom 4, an excellent RAW photo editor and organizer that’s easy to use and looks fantastic. You can check out our full review of the program here.
For our testing, we take a total of 500 RAW files spread across 250 .NEFs captured with a Nikon D80 and 250 .CR2 captured across a Canon 40D and 5D Mark II. We export all of these files to a glossy-sharpened quality 90 JPEG resized to a resolution of 1.5 megapixels. The test is timed indirectly using a stopwatch as the program doesn’t record the duration itself.
Returning back to the theme of earlier, ASUS speeds on ahead while MSI trails close. Intel, again, falls quite a bit behind the others.
With our 3D modeling and rendering tests out of the way, let’s dive right into another popular use for high-end machines: video editing and encoding. Scenarios here could include encoding a large movie into a mobile format, ripping a Blu-ray to your PC and encoding it for HTPC use, or encoding a family video you painstakingly edited.
Adobe’s Premiere Pro likely needs no introduction. It’s a tool used by the amateur and professional video content creator alike due to the extreme control it provides along with all of the important codecs, presets, filters and tweaking options. Premiere Pro can be used for any sort of video, be it real-life, animated, 3D or even game footage.
For our benchmarking, we encode 35GB worth of game footage from Payday: The Heist, to H.264 Blu-ray 1080p/30. The resulting video can be seen at YouTube.
ASUS and MSI keep trading punches here, but both could be considered equal by any reasonable person.
SiSoftware’s Sandra is a piece of software that needs no introduction. It’s been around as long as the Internet, and has long provided both diagnostic and benchmarking features to its users. The folks who develop Sandra take things very seriously, and are often the first ones to add support to the program long before consumers can even get their hands on the product.
As a synthetic tool, Sandra can give us the best possible look at the top-end performance from the hardware it can benchmark, which is the reason we use it for our memory tests – both for transfer and latency.
As expected, all of the boards performed close to one another. ASUS fell behind the others where memory bandwidth is concerned, but proved itself with a improved latency. Both MSI and ASUS equaled their cache bandwidth.