Benchmarks - Synthetic
Sandra is a software collection of synthetic benchmarks that will give us a basic idea as to what a system is capable of. It should be noted that SiSoft numbers change depending on what hardware is being tested. These were recorded using Sandra Professional Version 28.26.2018.8
One of the most difficult things about doing reviews is finding some kind of common ground to establish a benchmark on so that when we say something is good our readers know it is based on something they can try themselves. In the case of audio reproduction there are too many factors to consider such as hearing quality, sound equipment (speakers) and room dimensions so we are turning to the RightMark Audio Analyzer to give us a set of audio specs. We will then use those numbers to determine what kind of audio quality you can expect.
This test was performed using a loopback cable which is basically a jack that connects the analog line-out plug back into the analog line-in. That way we can remove almost all of the variables and concentrate on what is actually being reproduced and recorded.
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.01, -0.06
Noise level, dB (A): -93.0
Dynamic range, dB (A): 93.1
THD, %: 0.00104
THD + Noise, dB (A): -83.0
IMD + Noise, %: 0.011
Stereo crosstalk, dB: -87.6
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.00974
General performance Very Good
Color coding indicates good to bad, Bright green = Excellent - Bright Red = Poor - Black = Good
Synthetic performance never really tells the entire story, but is a good indication of what the system would probably be capable of doing under the right conditions. For this set of benchmarks I decided to keep things simple and run the Z390 against a Z370 and Z270. Coffee Lake will have the CPU advantage due to the 6-core architecture and as you can imagine running a Core i9 9900K would likely just change the CPU score.
The Rightmark audio benchmark is a great tool for exposing audio specs for the various chips and software used and read much like if you were buying an amplifier or sound system for your house. There are a bunch of Excellent rated numbers on that list and might be the best onboard audio solution I have ever tested. The end result is still "Very Good" based on the testing results and might be one of the best you can currently get.
Measuring audio performance usually comes down drivers and how they are configured for the test. For the best results the input and output frequencies are matched with audio enhancements disabled, assuming the driver supports doing that.