Page 1: Endurance Test: Sabertooth Z97 Mark I
There are three ASUS mainboard series: the multimedia variant ASUS Z97 Deluxe, the ROG series for gamers, and for all who place special value on stability, safety and durability, there's the Sabertooth series. So it's only fitting that the latest motherboard from the series, the Z97 Mark I, will not just have to endure our normal tests and benchmarks: we will virtually torment it in a long term test to find out if it's really made of the sterner stuff.
The board has several distinguishing features, all aimed at improving stability and quality: the "Thermal Armor" makes for better cooling of components and simultaneously protects them, "TUF Fortifier" is a backplate for stabilization of the board and cooling its back, "Thermal Radar 2" is ASUS' range of appropriate monitoring software and the "Dust Defenders" protect the system from... well, dust. The high-quality components have been granted a five-year warranty.
Of course we won't be able to test the board for five years, but we will sure try to bring the board to its limits with our endurance test. Here is a rough summary:
Setting up an endurance test system
In a first step we outfit the ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark I with components for the test. We focused along the lines of what our readers will probably have in their systems: a powerful graphics card, a good overclockable CPU, plenty of RAM, an SSD, and much more. The following components have been used:
- ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark I
- Intel Core i7-4770K
- Corsair Vengeance 4x8GB Pro, 32 GB kit, 1866 MHz (CMY32GX3M4A1866C9)
- Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB SSD
- ASUS GTX 780 Ti Direct CU II OC, 3 GB
- H100i Corsair water cooling
- Gelid GC2 thermal paste
- Corsair Graphite 760T case
- Seasonic Platinum SS-860XP power supply, 860 W
- DVD ROM iHDS118
- Corsair Vengeance M60 mouse + Vengeance K70 Keyboard
- ASUS VS238 monitor
- Microsoft Windows 8.1 64bit
Our price comparison helped us set up a wishlist (Sabertooth Endurance Test PC) which ended up costing just under 2300 EUR (without monitor).
Overclocking and tuning of the endurance test system
After assembly, we tuned the system a little bit: the CPU overclocked, memory too. We set the graphics card to higher clock speeds, even if it was already overclocked ex factory. Overall, we optimized the system so that it gives us the best performance under load.
Stability was checked with the usual tools (Afterburner, Prime95, other benchmarks), and we monitored temperatures and the consumption of the system. To increase the level of the test, we will turned down the case ventilation to achieve a suboptimal ventilation for the motherboard components. We always monitored the temperatures so that really critical areas were not reached.
Continuous load of the system
After this adjustment, it's crunch time for the test system. We grabed a few tools with which set the system permanently under load:
- CPU utilization
- Utilization of the graphics card
And then we waited. The goal was to torment the hardware in the endurance test for a couple of weeks and see how the Sabertooth is able to handle the duration of exposure to stress. But more on the results later. In the meantime, let's introduce the board in more detail and give you a few tuning and tweaking tips.