The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows Vista was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drive was de-fragmented. For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).
Good Benchmarking Practice:
Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.
Driver Heaven does not use benchmark scripts. We play the games for long periods of time on various levels and report any unusual findings we see. Then we record with FRAPS across several in game levels recording the averages. This is real world testing and is just how you guys will experience the game. Occasionally we might throw in a time demo as a further comparison, but we will note it.
NOTE: Testing of the i7 CPUs was performed on the Asus Rampage 2 Extreme as we found it to be production ready. The DX58SO had some minor BIOS issues such as memory timings not selecting correctly and so we will review the performance of that board when it hits retail. As things stand it gives exceptional performance as we would expect from an Intel product and only requires minor BIOS tweaking to reach its full potential for retail launch.
NOTE 2: Turbo Mode was disabled on the Core i7 CPUs to ensure consistent and repeatable performance. End users can expect slightly higher performance than quoted here when Turbo Mode is enabled.
Last month Intel launched their Z97 chipset, essentially an evolution of Z87, which in many cases brought new features such as SATA Express and M.2 compatibility to the mainstream desktop market. There was of course no new CPU at that time with the existing socket 1150 processors working without issue in the new boards. Since then though Intel launched (along with some lower spec models) the Core i7-4790K, a model which sits at the top of their mainstream platform. Today we see how it compares to various other models when installed on Gigabytes Z97X Gaming 5 and paired with PowerColors new dual core 290X Devil 13.