Test System and Build Comments
As we have mentioned the X58A-UD9 is huge! This thing would not sit on my test bench properly. I had to rig the bench to allow the board to hang over the end and not make use of the add-in board support frame. It also pushed the SSD that normally sits beside the board off and onto the counter top. It was a little funny to see to be honest. The initial installation was every bit as awkward as the board was sitting on the test bench. We installed from our usual USB thumb drive, or at least we were going to. For some reason [an incompatibility with our KVM] while using the USB capability of our KVM we could not boot from any USB device. A quick call to Gigabyte found the issue in the KVM and with the USB keyboard and mouse plugged directly in the board was off like a shot. From there the install went great, we had no issues with the software install and we were ready to dive into our testing suite.
Processor: Intel Core i7 980X
Mainboard GIGABYTE X58A-UD9 [Supplied by Gigabyte]
Memory: 6GB Corsair DominatorGT CMT6GX3M3A2000C8 [Supplied by Corsair]
Hard Disk: Corsair Force SSD F-120 120GB SSD [Supplied by KCorsair]
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB SATA 3.0 HDD [Supplied by Seagate]
Seagate BlackArmor PS-110 [Supplied by Seagate]
Graphics Card: ASUS EAH5870 V2 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Edition [Supplied by ASUS]
Cooling: Corsair H-70 Water cooler [Supplied by Corsair]
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: Intel INF 220.127.116.115, Catalyst 10.8
Performance - Subsystems
Motherboard performance is not simply a measure of how fast you can overclock or indeed how many FPS it will get you in your favorite game. We feel that it is a combination of the subsystems combined with how well it handles your CPU, RAM and add-in boards. As such we cover performance of these items in our testing.
Memory performance is very important in a motherboard. This is even truer now that most CPUs have an internal memory controller. These are usually less affected by the actual speed of the memory as they are any issues in latency, skew and tracing on the board. For the most part Asus has this area firmly in hand. They typically can outperform the competition in terms of stock and overclocked memory performance. For our testing we use Sisoft Sandra and Everest Memory test.
Sisoft’s SANDRA test shows us that the X58A-UD9 is slightly faster in terms of aggregate memory bandwidth. This could help out with tests like HyperPi, Lightwave 3D, and Even PCMark and AutoGK. It is one of the foundations for good board performance.
Stock Memory Speed
Everest shows us the same performance level as SANDRA, but can go into more detail. The unfortunate side here is that because the test is single threaded it causes the turbo mode to kick in and show a CPU OC when there really is not one.
The ability of a motherboard to pull data from your disk drive is another important aspect of system performance. With the introduction of the SSD the performance gulf between different boards with the same chipset dropped. Now when we do see a difference it is measured in 1-2 MB/s. The same thing is now showing up in SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 testing. The reason we keep this test in place is to identify boards that have a serious issue with HDD performance. Usually these are correctable with a simple BIOS adjustment.
Well, remember how we said that memory performance is one of the foundations of good system performance? Well one of the other ones is HDD [or SSD] performance. Here we see performance that is a little behind the curve. This could come back to haunt us on tests like AutoGK, Lightwave and also HyperPi. As the dip in HDD performance is more than the lead in memory performance we expect to see the X58A-UD9 have a bit of trouble with these later on.
Stock HDD Speeds
Stock USB 3.0 Speed
Overclocked CPU USB 3.0 Speeds
Everest again fleshes out the details for us and shows that our problem could be when the drive needs to read from the "middle" of the drive for data. This is probably a problem with the drive controller drivers and the trim firmware on the SSD we are using. So this could be corrected with a driver or even an OS update in the near future.
Although many may argue, the audio sub-system on a motherboard is an important part of performance and overall purchaser satisfaction. If the audio system is garbage you are not going to get decent sound for gaming, video or anything. Additionally a poor audio CODEC [COmpression/DECompression] can cause performance issues as the CPU, Memory and other system components try to deal with the signals and data being sent from that part. Drivers also play an important role here.
The audio quality of the X58A-UD9 is pretty good. It is provided by a Realtek ALC889 audio CODEC which offers up to 8 channels of HD quality audio. We did not note an performance loss with this enabled and during our gaming testing were happy with the quality of the sound, even using headphones.
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