|ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles & David Ramsey|
|Monday, 14 November 2011|
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Motherboard Testing Methodology
It's always interesting for us here at Benchmark Reviews to test a new processor/chipset combination, because normally we have no idea what to expect! The marketing and advertising press materials Intel included with this processor promise unprecedented levels of performance...can these new parts really deliver?
I admit my hopes are high: the original Sandy Bridge processors raised the performance bar considerably, and their new 32nm fabrication process allowed amazing overclocks with relatively low voltages and heat production. The enthusiast chip adds two more cores, nearly double the cache, and drops the relatively unused integrated GPU. ASUS includes its usual bevy of overclocking mechanisms, including automatic "level up" overclocks from the BIOS and test-and-reboot automatic overclocks from within the Turbo V Evo utility.
But overclocking the Sandy Bridge Extreme is more complex than any previous Intel processor: in addition to getting back the "base clock" overclocking lost with the original Sandy Bridge chips, the Extreme series of CPUs allows you to designate the sustained and burst current draw, in watts. Also, Benchmark Reviews didn't have any "high performance" LGA2011 coolers available for these tests, so our overclocking results should be regarded as preliminary. That said, the ASUS Sabertooth X79 TUF motherboard easily took the Core i7-3960K CPU to a stable 4.8GHz for all cores under load, albeit at the cost of rather high CPU temperatures, which exceeded 80 degrees in some tests. I achieved this overclock simply by raising the maximum turbo boost multiplier from the stock 39 to 48, and enabling most of ASUS' "extreme" load line calibration settings.
To see how this processor/chipset performs against the best AMD offers and Intel's previous top-of-the-line setups, I included the systems listed below. Each test system used the same hard drive, memory (with the exception of the AMD system), and graphics card. Note that there are two X79 Express systems: a prototype Intel DX79SI motherboard as well as the ASUS Sabertooth. Note that when I speak of how the 3960X performance compared to the other CPUs in the test, I'm speaking of the stock-clocked results on the ASUS TUF Sabertooth unless I specify otherwise.
Intel X58 Test Platform
Intel P67 Test Platform
AMD 990FX Test Platform
Intel X79 Express Test Platforms