How we test

Custom PC - - LABS TEST -

Barely a year after Broad­well-E hit the shelves, In­tel is back and look­ing to se­cure its de­fences against the im­mi­nent ar­rival of AMD’s Thread­rip­per CPUs. The lat­est Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs are cheaper than their equiv­a­lent pre­de­ces­sors, and early in­di­ca­tions are that 4.6GHz is an easy overclocking tar­get too. First, though, there are a few is­sues to dis­cuss, as it’s not all plain sail­ing with the sup­port­ing X299 moth­er­boards in these early days.

While we ex­pe­ri­enced far fewer is­sues with LGA2066 boards than with AMD’s AM4 launch in March, high power con­sump­tion, toasty tem­per­a­tures, sta­bil­ity is­sues and slow PCI-E M.2 speeds have been ex­pe­ri­enced with boards from ev­ery man­u­fac­turer we’ve tested so far. The lower M.2 speeds com­pared with Z270 moth­er­boards are re­port­edly a po­ten­tial is­sue with Skylake-X it­self, and Asus has raised the is­sue with In­tel – we’ll be re­port­ing fur­ther on this prob­lem next month, when hope­fully some of these prob­lems have been fixed.

High power draw at stock speed also ap­pears to be an is­sue with early EFI sys­tems, and we’ve seen at least two boards im­prove dra­mat­i­cally with new EFIs just as we fin­ished test­ing. As such, while we’ve men­tioned the is­sues in the re­views, we have no doubt that this sit­u­a­tion will im­prove after a few EFI re­vi­sions, and the sit­u­a­tion is al­ready bet­ter than at the same stage in the X99 plat­form’s re­lease.

We’ve now up­dated our high-end desk­top test gear to in­clude two Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 480 8GB graph­ics cards, 32GB of 3000MHz Cor­sair Vengeance LED RAM and an In­tel Core i9-7900X CPU. We use a 500GB Sam­sung 960 Evo M.2 SSD to test both the M.2 speeds and the heatsinks in­cluded on many new moth­er­boards, us­ing AIDA64 to record the tem­per­a­ture. Along with a 256GB Sam­sung 850 Pro, we use Crys­talDiskMark’s 1GB se­quen­tial test to record read and write speeds.

We also use RightMark’s Au­dio An­a­lyzer soft­ware to mea­sure the dy­namic range, noise level and to­tal har­monic dis­tor­tion of the on-board au­dio. Other test hard­ware in­cludes a Frac­tal De­sign Cel­sius 24 cooler, Cor­sair RM750 PSU and Cru­cial MX100 SSD with Win­dows 10 in­stalled with the lat­est up­dates. Other tests in­clude our RealBench 2015 suite of bench­marks, Ter­ra­gen 4, Cinebench R15 and Ashes of the Sin­gu­lar­ity: Es­ca­la­tion, along with to­tal sys­tem power con­sump­tion recorded from the mains.

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