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Test Settings

Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100
By

Test Configuration

CPU

Intel Core 2 Duo E8600

3.33GHz, FSB-1333, 6.0 MB Cache

Memory

Crucial Ballistix PC2-6,400 2x 2.0 GB

Overclocked to DDR2-1,066 CAS 5-5-5-15

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB

7200 RPM, SATA 3.0 GB/s, 16 MB cache

Sound

Integrated HD Audio

Network

Integrated Gigabit Network Controller (offline)

Power

Cooler Master RS850-EMBA

850W, ATX12V v2.2

Software and Drivers

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1

Graphics Driver

ATI Catalyst 8.9

Chipset Drivers

Intel INF 9.0.0.1009

Onboard Device Drivers

Motherboard Driver DVD


Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8600 uses the recent E0 stepping for increased efficiency and better overclocking capability. Although this mainstream processor might be a little above the market of today’s low-cost boards, the same stepping has started appearing in lower-cost models.

With so much value in overclocking, we also had to find each motherboard’s maximum achievable memory speed. Crucial’s spectacularly-overclockable Ballistix DDR2-800 4.0 GB dual-channel kit has shown us stable speeds beyond DDR2-1200.

Different builders have different ideas about which CPU cooler offers the best value, but consistency takes primary importance in hardware comparisons. We’ve had such good results with Swiftech’s three-fan radiator, the MCP-655b, and the Apogee GTX water block that these components are now mounted into a test bench.

Benchmark Settings

3D-Games

Crysis

Version: 1.2.1

Test 1: Low Details, No AA

Test 2: Very High Details, 8x AA

Demo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom's Hardware Tool

Supreme Commander

Forged Alliance

Version: 1.5.3599

Test 1: Low Details, No AA

Test 2: Very High Details, 8x AA

Demo: WallaceTX_006_006

Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037

Unreal Tournament 3

Version: 1.2

Sound and DirectX10 Enabled (Full Screen)

Test 1: Texture/Level Details: 1

Test 2: Texture/Level Details: 5

Demo: vCTF-Reflection_fly

Time: 12/60

World in Conflict

Version: 1.0.0.9

Test 1: Very Low details (No AA, No AF)

Test 2: Very High details (4x AA, 4x AF)

Demo: Game-Benchmark

Audio Encoding

iTunes

Version: 7.7.0.43

Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min

Default format AAC

Lame MP3

Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)

Audio CD Terminator II SE, 53 min

Wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s

Video Encoding

TMPEG 4.5

Version: 4.5.1.254

Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)

Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9

DivX 6.8.3

Encoding mode: Insane Quality

Enhanced multithreading

Enabled using SSE4

Quarter-pixel search

XviD 1.1.3

Display encoding status = off

Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1

Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1

MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)

MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec

28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)

Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps)

Mode: PAL (25 FPS)

Profile: Tom's Hardware Settings for Qct-Core

Productivity

Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9

Version: 9.0

Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)

Adobe Photoshop CS 3

Version: 10.0x20070321

Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-Photo

Benchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4

Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,

Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes

Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8

Version: 8.0.134

Virus base: 270.4.5/1533

Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of compressed files

Winrar 3.80

Version 3.70 BETA 8

WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3

Compression = Best

Dictionary = 4096 KB

Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)

Winzip 11

Version 11.2

Compression = Best

Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)

Synthetics

3DMark Vantage

Version: 1.02

3DMark, GPU and CPU scores

PCMark Vantage

Version: 1.00

System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks

Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2

Version 2008.5.14.24

CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia

Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

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