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Hardware Enthusiast’s Paradise

Core i7: 4-Way CrossFire, 3-way SLI, Paradise?
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If you’re a fan of high-end hardware, insane graphics configurations, and equatorial heat, you’re going to love the platforms we set up in order to test Core i7’s gaming alacrity.

We’ve lined up the three fastest desktop platforms currently available—Intel’s Core i7 965 Extreme, Intel’s Core 2 Extreme QX9770, and AMD’s Phenom X4 9950. As we know, Core i7’s X58 chipset supports CrossFireX and SLI, so one board is able to yield numbers for all of our graphics configurations with this CPU. We used X48 for CrossFireX and Core 2 Extreme, swapping out for nForce 790i SLI Ultra when it came time to test SLI and Core 2 Extreme. The Phenom X4 setup supports CrossFireX-only, so our numbers were drawn from AMD’s 790FX/SB750 chipset combination. To each of these setups we applied a range of graphics subsystems.

  • X58 (Core i7 Extreme): 1/2/3-way SLI using GeForce GTX 280s and 1/2/4-way CrossFireX using a single Radeon HD 4870 and two Radeon HD 4870 X2s
  • X48 (Core 2 Extreme): 1/2/4-way CrossFireX using a single Radeon HD 4870 and two Radeon HD 4870 X2s
  • 790i SLI Ultra (Core 2 Extreme): 1/2/3-way SLI using GeForce GTX 280s
  • 790FX (Phenom X4): 1/2/4-way CrossFireX using a single Radeon HD 4870 and two Radeon HD 4870 X2s

Hardware Configuration
Platform Core i7 965 Extreme Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Phenom X4 9950
Chipset Intel X58 Intel X48/Nvidia nForce 790i SLI Ultra AMD 790FX/SB750
Motherboard ASUS Rampage II Extreme/Gigabyte EX58-Extreme Intel DX48BT2/EVGA nForce 790i SLI Ultra ASUS M3A79-T Deluxe
Memory 6 GB DDR3-1333 7-7-7 (triple-channel) 4 GB DDR3-1600 7-7-7 (dual-channel) 4 GB DDR2-1066 5-5-5 (dual-channel)
Storage Intel SSDSA2MH080G1GN 80 GB SSD Intel SSDSA2MH080G1GN 80 GB SSD Intel SSDSA2MH080G1GN 80 GB SSD
Optical Lite-On DH-4O1S BD-ROM Lite-On DH-4O1S BD-ROM Lite-On DH-4O1S BD-ROM
Power Cooler Master UCP 1100W Cooler Master UCP 1100W Cooler Master UCP 1100W

Software Configuration
Platform Core i7 965 Extreme Core 2 Extreme QX9770 Phenom X4 9950
Operating System Windows Vista x64 with Service Pack 1 Windows Vista x64 with Service Pack 1 Windows Vista x64 with Service Pack 1
Graphics Drivers AMD: 8.551 / Nvidia: GeForce 180.43 AMD: 8.551 / Nvidia: GeForce 180.43 AMD: 8.541
Platform Drivers Intel: 9.1.0 Build 1005 Intel: 8.3.1 / Nvidia: nForce 15.23 AMD: Catalyst 8.10

We need to thank a few manufacturers who aren’t being expressly evaluated in this piece, but were still willing to lend us the mountain of hardware needed to pull it off.

  • Zotac provided us with three GeForce GTX 280 cards, all operating at their stock frequencies
  • Sapphire provided us with two Radeon HD 4870 X2s, operating at stock frequencies
  • ASUS provided us with its Rampage II Extreme and P6T Deluxe
  • Gigabyte provided us with its EX58-Extreme
  • Cooler Master provided us with its UCP 1100W
  • Corsair provided us with 6 GB of DDR3-1600 (TR3X6G1600C8D)
  • OCZ provided us with 6 GB of DDR3-1333 (OCZ3P1333LV6GK)

Benchmark Configuration
Benchmark Configuration
World in Conflict Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1009, DirectX 10
Very High Quality Settings, 4x AA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1009, DirectX 10
Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1.5.3599, DirectX 9, Fraps 2.9.4
High Quality Settings, 8x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1.5.3599, DirectX 9, Fraps 2.9.4
Crysis Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1900x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit Executable
Very High Quality Settings, 8x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1900x1200 / 2560x1600, Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit Executable
Crysis: Warhead Enthusiast Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Enthusiast Quality Settings, 8x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Company of Heroes High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
High Quality Settings, 8x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Unreal Tournament 3 5/5 Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2
5/5 Quality Settings, 8x AA / 16x AF, vsync off, 1920x1200 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Patch 1.2
Far Cry 2 Very High Quality Settings, No AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1600 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
Very High Quality Settings, 8x AA / No AF, vsync off, 1920x1600 / 2560x1600, DirectX 10, Steam Version
3DMark Vantage Performance Default

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