Gaming Benchmarks

Metro2033

Our first analysis is with the perennial reviewers’ favorite, Metro2033.  It occurs in a lot of reviews for a couple of reasons – it has a very easy to use benchmark GUI that anyone can use, and it is often very GPU limited, at least in single GPU mode.  Metro2033 is a strenuous DX11 benchmark that can challenge most systems that try to run it at any high-end settings.  Developed by 4A Games and released in March 2010, we use the inbuilt DirectX 11 Frontline benchmark to test the hardware at 1440p with full graphical settings.  Results are given as the average frame rate from a second batch of 4 runs, as Metro has a tendency to inflate the scores for the first batch by up to 5%.

Metro 2033 - One 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Metro 2033 1 GPU 2 GPU 3 GPU
AMD
NVIDIA  

Dirt 3

Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters.  Dirt 3 also falls under the list of ‘games with a handy benchmark mode’.  In previous testing, Dirt 3 has always seemed to love cores, memory, GPUs, PCIe lane bandwidth, everything.  The small issue with Dirt 3 is that depending on the benchmark mode tested, the benchmark launcher is not indicative of game play per se, citing numbers higher than actually observed.  Despite this, the benchmark mode also includes an element of uncertainty, by actually driving a race, rather than a predetermined sequence of events such as Metro 2033.  This in essence should make the benchmark more variable, but we take repeated in order to smooth this out.  Using the benchmark mode, Dirt 3 is run at 1440p with Ultra graphical settings.  Results are reported as the average frame rate across four runs.

Dirt 3 - One 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Dirt 3 1 GPU 2 GPU 3 GPU
AMD
NVIDIA  

Civilization V

A game that has plagued my testing over the past twelve months is Civilization V.  Being on the older 12.3 Catalyst drivers were somewhat of a nightmare, giving no scaling, and as a result I dropped it from my test suite after only a couple of reviews.  With the later drivers used for this review, the situation has improved but only slightly, as you will see below.  Civilization V seems to run into a scaling bottleneck very early on, and any additional GPU allocation only causes worse performance.

Our Civilization V testing uses Ryan’s GPU benchmark test all wrapped up in a neat batch file.  We report the average frame rate of a 5 minute test.

Civilization V - One 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Civilization V 1 GPU 2 GPU 3 GPU
AMD
NVIDIA  

Sleeping Dogs

While not necessarily a game on everybody’s lips, Sleeping Dogs is a strenuous game with a pretty hardcore benchmark that scales well with additional GPU power due to its SSAA implementation.  The team over at Adrenaline.com.br is supreme for making an easy to use benchmark GUI, allowing a numpty like me to charge ahead with a set of four 1440p runs with maximum graphical settings.

Sleeping Dogs - One 7970, 1440p, Max Settings

Sleeping Dogs 1 GPU 2 GPU 3 GPU
AMD
NVIDIA  

GPU Conclusions

The salient point in our testing is the fact that the MSI Z87 XPower is the first PLX motherboard we have tested on Z87.  This means that anything dual GPU and up is going to be affected, especially in our three-way tests when the XPower is running at X16/x8/x8 via the PLX.

The results are similar to what we saw with Z77:

- In single GPU mode, if the GPU is put into a PLX managed slot, we lose <0.5%  performance
- In dual GPU mode, there is essentially no difference to PLX/non-PLX
- In tri GPU mode, we see gains using the PLX – from 2-10% over non-PLX motherboards

Computation Benchmarks MSI Z87 XPower Conclusion
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  • DanNeely - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    I'm wondering about the pair of USB2 ports on the back. The Z87 provides 6 USB3 ports; 4 are used by the pair of onboard headers, and all 8 back panel USB3 ports are ASmedia. This leaves 2 USB3 ports on the z87 idle, so why not route them to the back too instead of USB2. Reply
  • IanCutress - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    You are forgetting FlexIO (http://www.anandtech.com/show/6989/) - Z87 has 18 ports from the PCH. Most of them are fixed - four for USB 3.0, six for PCIe 2.0 and four for SATA 6 Gbps. This leaves two pairs of two - the first pair can be configured as USB 3.0 or PCIe 2.0, and the second pair can be configured as PCIe 2.0 or SATA 6 Gbps. The only limitation is a maximum of eight PCIe 2.0 lanes in total. MSI have decided to use four USB 3.0 here, eight PCIe 2.0 and six SATA 6 Gbps: 4 + 8 + 6 = 18, as shown in the Board Features :)

    Ian
    Reply
  • ionR19 - Sunday, August 10, 2014 - link

    there are 4 USB3 comming from the PCH and 8 from the hubs
    can you use all the 12 USB3 ports this way ?
    Reply
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  • KurtToni - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $82h… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online. (Home more information)
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    Reply
  • tech6 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    In most home uses cases the bottleneck for performance is no longer the CPU but more likely to be the graphics card or hard disk. Thus spending a lot of money on on OC board is a waste of money better spent on an SSD or more GPU. I guess that manufacturers are betting that there will always be enough well funded fanbois who feel the need to brag about their OC numbers to make a buck on products such as these. Reply
  • IanCutress - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Overclocking, at least competitive overclocking, has substantial investment in motherboard companies and is the the focus of peoples jobs, careers, and a sport-like industry. The website HWBot.org is a common database for overclock scores and leagues, and I have reported here at AnandTech about competitive overclocking events/venues. Manufacturers will always release boards for these people, though it's hard to justify it *just* for this crowd, and it has to be made for daily use as well. As a result you end up with a Halo board trying to cater for both crowds, as mentioned in the conclusion ;)

    Ian
    Reply
  • Slomo4shO - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Why don't any of these board manufactures ever design a board capable of 3-way crossfire/SLI using PCIe 1, 4, and 7 slots? ASRock x79 boards are the only ones that seem to have this option currently... Reply
  • Infy2 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    What does that plus (+) mean in the performance charts next to the system name? Reply
  • IanCutress - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    It means that the CPU was tested in a motherboard that enables MultiCore Turbo/Enhancement/Acceleration by default, like this one. It is starting to become the norm for motherboards from certain companies over a particular price point.

    Ian
    Reply

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