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Our testing methods


As usual, we ran each test at least three times, and we've reported the median result. Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor AMD FX-8370 Core i7-2600K Core i7-3770K
Motherboard Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Killer Asus P8Z77-V Pro Asus P8Z77-V Pro
Chipset 990FX + SB950 Z87 Express Z87 Express
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type AMD Performance
Series
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance
DDR3 SDRAM
Memory speed 1866 MT/s 1333 MT/s 1600 MT/s
Memory timings 9-10-9-27 1T 8-8-8-20 1T 9-9-9-24 1T

 

Processor Core i7-4790K
Core i7-5775C
Core i7-6700K Core i7-5960X
Motherboard Asus Z97-A Asus Z170 Deluxe Asus X99 Deluxe
Chipset Z97 Express Z170 X99
Memory size 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (2 DIMMs) 16 GB (4 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair
Vengeance
DDR3 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance LPX
DDR4 SDRAM
Corsair
Vengeance LPX
DDR4 SDRAM
Memory speed 1600 MT/s 2133 MT/s 2133 MT/s
Memory timings 9-9-9-24 1T 15-15-15-36 1T 15-15-15-36 1T

They all shared the following common elements:

Hard drive Kingston HyperX SH103S3 240GB SSD
Discrete graphics GeForce GTX 980 4GB with  GeForce 353.62 drivers
OS Windows 10 Pro
Power supply Corsair AX650

Thanks to Corsair, Kingston, MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, Asrock, Cooler Master, Intel, and AMD for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available.

Some further notes on our testing methods:

  • The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1920x1080 in 32-bit color. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled in the graphics driver control panel.
  • We used a Yokogawa WT210 digital power meter to capture power use over a span of time. The meter reads power use at the wall socket, so it incorporates power use from the entire system—the CPU, motherboard, memory, graphics solution, hard drives, and anything else plugged into the power supply unit. (The monitor was plugged into a separate outlet.) We measured how each of our test systems used power across a set time period, during which time we encoded a video with x264.
  • After consulting with our readers, we've decided to enable Windows' "Balanced" power profile for the bulk of our desktop processor tests, which means power-saving features like SpeedStep and Cool'n'Quiet are operating. (In the past, we only enabled these features for power consumption testing.) Our spot checks demonstrated to us that, typically, there's no performance penalty for enabling these features on today's CPUs. If there is a real-world penalty to enabling these features, well, we think that's worthy of inclusion in our measurements, since the vast majority of desktop processors these days will spend their lives with these features enabled.

The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.