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Storage Subsystem Performance
To test storage subsystems I used CrystalDiskMark, the 1000 MB setting with 0x00 fill test data, and a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive (compressible data produces the best possible speeds out SandForce drives). The drive was connected using an Icy Dock external dock which supports eSATA and USB 3.0 (limited to 3 Gbps and 5 Gbps respectively).
SATA 6 Gbps
The Z87 chipset's SATA support is superior to that of previous Intel chipsets in that it natively allowed for six 6 Gbps ports, three times as many as the 7-series. The controller itself however seems to be unchanged. Our results with CrystalDiskMark were right in line with a Gigabyte Z77 and Intel Q77 model.
A couple of extra USB 3.0 ports are also supported by Z87 but again, the results were very similar to the previous generation, though there were some sizable gains in write speed with small block sizes.
For the WiFi performance test, we sent a large file transfer (700MB) to and from a machine connected via gigabit ethernet and timed the operation to calculate the average transfer rate. We also checked signal strength to the various wireless networks in our area by going to the MS-DOS command line and using the the "netsh" tool.
It should be noted that the 802.11n router servicing our lab is not the greatest, an Actiontec combination router/gateway from our ADSL provider. It also happens to be placed in a central location, about a few feet away with only one wall between it and our test systems. This should produce ideal results.
The Atheros adapter that shipped with the F2A85XN-WIFI edged out the Z87N-WIFI's Intel adapter in downstream performance. However, the upstream performance was awful it took three times as long to complete the transfer. The Z87N-WIFI produced more balanced transfer rates.
The reported signal strength was similar for both adapters but the Intel NIC failed to detect two of the five SSIDs. However, we suspect that the Intel NIC simply simply drops these less reliable connections from the list due to low signal strength achieving a stable connection with these networks is unlikely.
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