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.
Gigabyte's Z97-HD3 was tested against another budget Haswell board, Asus' Z97-P. The highlights are below, with the full descriptions of the test system and procedures on the next page.
The Z97-HD3 consistently trails the Z97-P, but only by very small margins. Gigabyte's entry-level Z97 board pulls out a definitive win in our cold boot tests, though. It gets to the Windows desktop in just 12 seconds, a full three seconds faster than the Asus board.
Unlike performance, power consumption can vary a fair bit from one motherboard model to the next. 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 on the Windows desktop, and then under a full load combining Cinebench rendering with the Unigine Valley graphics demo.
Both boards have modest power circuitry, minimal third-party silicon, and a complete absence of auxiliary storage controllers. As such, it's unsurprising to see only slight differences in power consumption between them.
The Z97-HD3's idle power consumption is lower than the Z97-P's, even when the latter has Asus' EPU power-saving feature enabled. However, this difference only amounts to a single watt.
The following page is loaded with detailed motherboard specifications, system configurations, and test procedures. If you're worried that you won't be able to fully appreciate and absorb all the tables of data with the excitement of the conclusion lingering in the back of your mind, feel free to jump straight to the last page.