For many years, Intel's Gigabit Ethernet chips have been the backbone of all ROG, and occasionally ASUS and TUF motherboards. The reason being is that it constantly showed better performance in our testing, which reviewers confirmed in their own testing too.
That performance is by no means taken for granted. Each generation the ROG team undertakes extensive benchmarks (that are user repeatable) to understand which chip is better for its audience. After all, you buy a premium brand and expect nothing less. Just because a product throws 'gaming' into the name, are they actually better for it? Not necessarily, which is why things should be tested and benchmarked.
This is the foundation all ROG hardware: only when its worth is proven does it get a space in the arsenal!
Intel I217-V Gigabit Ethernet
Current ROG Z87 (and some ASUS/TUF) motherboards feature the Intel I217-V Gigabit Ethernet chip, and so the following performance comparatives are based on it.
As you'd imagine, having the full triad of Intel hardware on your PCB (CPU, PCH, LAN) also gives better compatibility, energy savings (the I217-V uses just 50mW when the connection is idle, down from a typical 500mW) and the chip itself can offload UDP/TCP checksums from the CPU, reducing PCH-CPU traffic and overall CPU use.
TCP Performance Testing: iPerf
iPerf test results show the differences of TCP throughput performance among Intel and other popular Gigabit Ethernet chips are almost negligible. However, it also shows Intel Ethernet consumes less CPU resource for the same performance level versus typical alternatives.
UDP Performance Testing: iPerf
Under UDP, iPerf "P" command should be >1 to reflect real network behavior, as every online task executes at least two connections in the background.
Unfortunately, some other Gigabit Ethernet products have capability issues and do not support a UDP setting above 1.
As you can see, Intel's UDP throughput is far ahead of the competition.
UDP Performance Testing: IxChariot
(Click for setup picture)
IxChariot is a professional network assessment test tool used by thousands of enterprises and government agencies worldwide to measure the performance and reliability of their networks. We use it here to assess the fine grained performance of Ethernet chipsets in a real-world environment.
Online game packets are usually less than 256 bytes (small). Here, Intel Ethernet shows up to 2x performance advantage over a direct 'gaming' competitor on small packet sizes. This proves that while 'course' testing appears equal, a deeper analysis shows Intel Gigabit Ethernet is clearly better for gaming.
Latency Performance Testing: Diablo III & League of Legends
Network latency is absolutely crucial to online gaming. The lower your ping, the more real-time your game. There are factors outside the control of the PC system that affect it, like the speed of the server you connect to and the inherent performance of your router and internet connection. In the tests conducted by the ROG team, the same physical and internet connection in all cases.
Performance was found to be equal or slightly lower than direct alternatives.
ROG GameFirst II: Don't forget the bandwidth optimization / traffic shaping software.
GameFirst II is a traffic shaping technology that ships with all ROG motherboards. It ensures pings are kept low through constant packet inspection and management, resulting in reduced latency – great for online gaming! Traffic Shaping prioritizes ACK packets, allowing the download to continue at max speed. Whereas previous tests were exclusively done on an isolated connection, ROG also evaluated the effect of having a heavy upload/download run in the background during gaming (World of Warcraft). The performance difference was significant, as you can see below.