TweakTown's new GPU Benchmarking Rig (Updated for 2017)

Our graphics card reviewing test bed needed updating, so we've upgraded to the Kaby Lake-based Core i7-7700K and more.

4 minute read time


After a few years of using the HEDT platform from Intel and ASUS, with the Core i7-5960X and Rampage V Extreme motherboard - I've finally switched over to a more mainstream CPU. As of now, every graphics card review will be run through Intel's new Core i7-7700K processor and the AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard.

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Now that I've hired some additional staff here in my office (my expansions of my day-to-day duties for TweakTown are continuously expanding), I can benchmark and run more tests and graphics cards than ever before. We're currently running all of our graphics cards through this new Core i7-7700K/AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 system, while running the same cards through our AMD Ryzen 7 1800X platform.

This way, we can introduce Ryzen CPU performance into a series of 'versus' articles, seeing how Ryzen and Kaby Lake perform against one another. There are also new resolutions that are now in our default testing, with 3440x1440 making a permanent return. I was one of the first to dive into the 21:9 aspect ratio, and have four 3440x1440 displays in the lab right now. They are an amazing alternative to 4K gaming, especially with its 21:9 aspect ratio and 34-inch size.

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In the very near future, we will be securing 5K and 8K displays as we get closer to the launch of AMD's next-gen Radeon RX Vega, which will push 8K gaming - something we will be on top of from day one.

For now, take a look around our new GPU benchmarking testbed.

CPU & Motherboard

CPU & Motherboard

Intel made a big splash earlier this year with its next-gen Kaby Lake CPU architecture, deploying its new 14nm-made flagship Core i7-7700K (our review here) - and becoming the favorite processor for high-end gamers and enthusiasts.

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It offers some truly great price/performance ratios but isn't much faster than the older Core i7-6700K. I didn't see an urgency to move to Kaby Lake right away, but I waited three months for some higher-end boards to arrive, and here we are. Before the 7700K, I was running a 6700K that I was going to switch the GPU testing onto, and through my testing, I decided at the last minute to wait and push those efforts off for the 7700K.

I will be making some Ryzen 7 1800X processor comparisons with all sorts of GPU combinations, with single/multi-GPU tests already finished and waiting in the pipeline. Core i7-7700K vs. Ryzen 7 1800X with GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SLI (yes, two of them in SLI) make for some interesting articles and videos.

Powered by GIGABYTE Z270X-Gaming 9

GIGABYTE's high-end Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard is the crown jewel of the entire system, housing the Core i7-7700K and 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2 SSD, as well as the G.SKILL Trident Z DDR4-4000MHz RAM. It deserves its own section, but Steven's review of the Z270X-Gaming 9 is more than thorough enough, so I'll just give it a once over again for our GPU benchmarking.

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GIGABYTE offers EK Water Blocks compatibility for water cooling, RGB Fusion tech for some RGB LED controlling goodness, Smart Fan 5 tech, and Creative's great Sound Blazer ZxRi 'AMP-UP Audio' technology for great sound.

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GIGABYTE's inclusion of RGB Fusion is a big deal for looks, and while it doesn't add to performance... when you're spending this much money on hardware, you want it to look awesome at the same time, right?!

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Look at those LEDs... mesmerizing.

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GIGABYTE knows the future of the PC is RGB LEDs, so they've provided support for standard 12V external RGB, RGBW, and even RGB/UV light strips on the Z270X-Gaming 9. Amazing stuff.

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The GIGABYTE/AORUS Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard itself, and the important x16 PCIe port.

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Showing off the board again, and the 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2 SSD.

The RGB LEDs look awesome at night.

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The Core i7-7700K processor is cooled by the Noctua U12S cooler.

RAM & Storage

RAM & Storage

I reached out to our friends at OCZ about some NVMe M.2 SSDs, and they were beyond generous by sending us a bunch of their new RD400 drives. I've used the 1TB OCZ RD400 NVMe M.2 SSD inside of both our new GPU benchmarking rig with the Core i7-7700K, and my new workstation/gaming build with the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor.

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This tiny drive is capable of 2600 MB/sec reads, and up to 1600 MB/sec writes. It's absolutely insane.

G.SKILL hooked us up with a 16GB kit of their wicked-fast Trident Z DDR4-4000MHz RAM, which looks great in this system.

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It looks so good, I think I'll need to see if G.SKILL will send over another couple of kits. In the right light, the G.SKILL Trident Z looks God-like.

Wrapping Up

The fruits of this new Core i7-7700K/Z270X-Gaming 9 motherboard labor are already here, with our latest graphics card reviews being benchmarked and powered by the new 7700K rig. I have a review of MSI's new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X 11G locked and loaded, ready to go - as well as EVGA's newish GeForce GTX 1080 SC2 iCX graphics card - and I've now started testing the new AORUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11G graphics card.

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Shifting to the more mainstream Core i7-7700K means we'll get more 'real-world' results instead of using a ridiculously expensive Core i7-6950X, which most people don't own, and can't afford. This doesn't mean I won't be benchmarking with higher-end CPUs, but for our graphics card benchmarking system - the 7700K it is.

I do have another rig with AMD's latest Ryzen 7 1800X in it, and we're benchmarking a lot of our graphics cards in there as we're preparing for a Core i7-7700K vs. Ryzen 7 1800X article, which is coming soon. Then we'll be able to continue to push out 7700K vs. 1800X articles, showing the difference between both sides of the fence.

Thanks to our partners in GIGABYTE, Corsair, OCZ, AMD, NVIDIA, and more. Without you, this isn't possible - and it provides us with a new rock-solid foundation for countless articles and videos in the future.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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