X99 Motherboard Group test: Test Setup
We use the same hardware to test all LGA2011-v3 motherboards. Due to the GPU-limited nature of many of today's games, we now use two AMD R9 390X graphics cards to allow CPU performance, in particular once it's overclocked, to come into play. AMD and XFX graciously provided two of their R9 390X Double Dissipation Edition graphics cards, which should prevent the GPUs from throttling when under load.
As many LGA2011-v3 systems will sport multiple GPUs, this is also representative system given the extra PCI-E lanes provided by Broadwell-E CPUs over their LGA1150 counterparts. As such, we also use Intel's Core i7-6850K, which has the full complement of 40 PCI-E lanes available to run both GPUs at x16 speed. It's also considerably cheaper than the two more expensive CPUs in the range, meaning it's a more likely choice for enthusiasts.
At stock speed we load optimised defaults and then enable the XMP profile in the EFI, before checking the memory timings are set correctly. We don't change any other settings. Our Core i7-6850K requires at least 1.3V to get to its maximum clock speed - at least that we've found so far, of 4.4GHz. To overclock each board we set the vcore to 1.4V and work backwards to find the lowest voltage that allows us to run at 4.4GHz with stability. We also disable Intel SpeedStep as this can give a huge boost to performance in some situations with only modest increases in power consumption - exactly the kind of compromises you'd be making if you were overclocking anyway.
Thanks to Corsair for supplying the PSU, memory and CPU cooler, to Crucial and Samsung for the SSDs, to Overclockers UK for the CPU and to XFX for the graphics cards. Also, we'd like to thank MSI for providing our review sample.