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ASUS SABERTOOTH Z170 MARK 1 (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Oct 20, 2015 2:14 pm
TweakTown Rating: 94%Manufacturer: ASUS

Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption

 

System power usage is measured at the AC/DC PSU (the Corsair AX1200i) which I have connected to another system to measure the test system, and as a backup I have a wall meter to verify. The CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector, which is hooked up to a hall effect IC, which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC, which logs the DC voltage level that I then convert into current.

 

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Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.

 

 

All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.

 

Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:

 

The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i GT) radiator are turned on to high (12v).

 

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Full frontal.

 

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Up-close of the front of the VRM.

 

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Up-close of the back of the VRM.

 

 

Thermal Testing at 4.5GHz Overclocked Speeds:

 

The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i GT) radiator are turned on to high (12v).

 

asus-sabertooth-z170-mark-1-intel-motherboard-reviewasus-sabertooth-z170-mark-1-intel-motherboard-review

 

Full frontal.

 

asus-sabertooth-z170-mark-1-intel-motherboard-reviewasus-sabertooth-z170-mark-1-intel-motherboard-review

 

Up-close of the front of the VRM.

 

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Up-close of the back of the VRM.

 

I ran these tests with the shield and fans installed and operational. Overall temperatures are great, partially due to high-quality components and dedicated airflow. However, I also wanted to see how the shield and fans help cool the motherboard and if there is a noticeable difference.

 

Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).

 

Thermal Testing Shield Without fans versus Shield With Fans:

 

In this test I used a Noctua NH-D15 on the CPU, flipped the motherboard over and tested (IBT full load for 15mins to allow saturation of heat) to see if the fans made any difference. There was no outside airflow except that from the two CPU cooler fans that were running on whatever the automatic fan control profile is. This test doesn't test with the backside shield which reduces VRM temperatures through direct contact, and it doesn't test the reduction in M.2 temperatures.

 

Obviously the backside shield will reduce VRM temperatures because of the heat pad against the backside CPU VRM MOSFETs which allows it to act as a giant heat sink. This test only checks the reduction of VRM temperatures from the active fan cooling. From my testing, the shield doesn't make thermals worse compared to not having the shield, so the real question is how much the fans help reduce temperatures, and naturally there is an impact.

 

asus-sabertooth-z170-mark-1-intel-motherboard-review

 

I used a different operation mode of my thermal camera which will highlight all temperature in, below, or above a certain temperature. In this case for the first two sets of thermal images, I chose to see everything above 28C and above 32C and these modes reveal that the fans work quite well in cooling the VRM. The last image shows that the hottest spot on the back of the motherboard is 4C lower using the hottest/lowest temperature mode of the thermal camera.

 

Conclusion: The fans work, and can improve overall VRM temperatures. If I were able to test with the backside shield, I would see larger temperature reductions, but the thermal camera cannot see through metal.

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