ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion and X79 Professional Review: From a Gamer to Gamersby Ian Cutress on February 9, 2013 10:30 AM EST
Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.2.5
In part due to reader requests, we are pleased to include Rightmark Audio Analyzer results in our benchmark suite. The premise behind Rightmark:AA is to test the input and output of the audio system to determine noise levels, range, harmonic distortion, stereo crosstalk and so forth. Rightmark:AA should indicate how well the sound system is built and isolated from electrical interference (either internally or externally). For this test we connect the Line Out to the Line In using a short six inch 3.5mm to 3.5mm high-quality jack, turn the OS volume to 100%, and run the Rightmark default test suite at 48 kHz, 96 kHz and 192 kHz. We look specifically at the Dynamic Range of the audio codec used on board, as well as the Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise.
The Creative Sound Core3D chip in the Champion does a great job in our THD+N test across all frequency ranges, -75 dB(A) relating to a distortion of less than 0.02%. The ALC898 in the Professional performs much like the other ALC898s in other motherboards.
It should be noted that we had to disable THX Studio Pro on the Champion to perform the tests, due to extreme cross channel leakage of the audio signals.
USB 3.0 Backup
For this benchmark, we run CrystalDiskMark to determine the ideal sequential read and write speeds for the USB port using our 240 GB OCZ Vertex3 SSD with a SATA 6 Gbps to USB 3.0 converter. Then we transfer a set size of files from the SSD to the USB drive using DiskBench, which monitors the time taken to transfer. The files transferred are a 1.52 GB set of 2867 files across 320 folders – 95% of these files are small typical website files, and the rest (90% of the size) are the videos used in the WinRAR test.
ASRock’s XFast software always gives them the best USB 2.0 scores in comparison to the rest of the spectrum. Even without XFast though, the ASRock copy times are still very competitive.
For both the Champion and the Professional, ASRock are using Texas Instruments USB 3.0 controllers (no native USB 3.0 on the X79 platform). We normally do not come across these, but rather Etron or ASMedia. It is clear to see why – the TI controllers are not the best performing, and are 60% slower than native USB 3.0 implementations in our copy test. XFast is a saving grace, getting our copy tests back in the ball park.
Deferred Procedure Call latency is a way in which Windows handles interrupt servicing. In order to wait for a processor to acknowledge the request, the system will queue all interrupt requests by priority. Critical interrupts will be handled as soon as possible, whereas lesser priority requests, such as audio, will be further down the line. So if the audio device requires data, it will have to wait until the request is processed before the buffer is filled. If the device drivers of higher priority components in a system are poorly implemented, this can cause delays in request scheduling and process time, resulting in an empty audio buffer – this leads to characteristic audible pauses, pops and clicks. Having a bigger buffer and correctly implemented system drivers obviously helps in this regard. The DPC latency checker measures how much time is processing DPCs from driver invocation – the lower the value will result in better audio transfer at smaller buffer sizes. Results are measured in microseconds and taken as the peak latency while cycling through a series of short HD videos - under 500 microseconds usually gets the green light, but the lower the better.
ASRock typically do rather well in our DPC Latency testing, and the X79 combo tested today are no different, coming in under 200 microseconds with ease.