With so many former chipset features now on the CPU die and few alternatives to the third-party peripheral controllers that dominate the scene, we rarely see meaningful performance differences between motherboards fitted with the same components. That said, we still test performance, if for no other reason than to ensure everything is functioning correctly.
The Z97-P was tested against another budget Haswell board we'll be reviewing soon, Gigabyte's Z97-HD3. The highlights are below, with the full descriptions of the test system and procedures on the next page.
The Z97-P consistently pulls ahead of the Z97-HD3, but it's only in front by the smallest of margins. Gigabyte's entry-level Z97 board comes out on top when it comes to cold boot times, though. While the Z97-P takes 15 seconds to boot to the Windows desktop, the Z97-HD3 gets there in 12 seconds.
Unlike with performance, one's choice of motherboard can have a notable impact on power consumption. We measured total system power draw (sans monitor and speakers) at the wall socket with our test system idling for a period of five minutes in the Windows desktop, and then under a full load combining Cinebench rendering with the Unigine Valley demo.
With such slight differences in power consumption, it almost feels a little pedantic to call out one board over the other. The nearly identical power draw isn't unexpected, though. Both boards have a minimum of third-party silicon, a complete absence of auxiliary storage controllers, and modest power circuitry. They share Haswell's on-die voltage regulator, too.
It's interesting to note that enabling Asus' EPU power-saving feature produces a measurable difference at idle but none under load. However, that difference only amounts to a single watt.
The following page is loaded with detailed motherboard specifications, system configurations, and test procedures. If you're having trouble getting to sleep—or you just really love tables filled with data—feel free to peruse. For those who jump straight to the conclusion, I won't tell if you won't.