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Intel Skulltrail 3: 8 vs 4 Core Performance

Intel Skulltrail 3: 8 vs 4 Core Performance
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Performance Analysis
2 Years Too Early And No Software Support

Considering its price tag, the Skulltrail system offers absolutely catastrophic performance. To be fair, though, it is not Intel's hardware that is at fault here, but today's software. If a program only uses four of the eight processor cores, then the Skulltrail system is noticeably slower than a single-socket quad-core computer. Since there are practically no current games or desktop applications around that can utilize more than four cores (if that many), the Skulltrail system does not offer any benefit here.

There are a few exceptions to this statement, namely 3D rendering, scenarios that require many virtual machines or situations where several video streams need to be encoded/recoded simultaneously. Still, in most cases you'll save money by opting for a second dual-core computer that offers better overclocking potential. Moreover, such a system is guaranteed to run quieter than that of the Skulltrail.

When running software that can take advantage of eight cores, the Skulltrail offers performance that is second to none in the desktop arena.

By assigning threads directly to one of the CPU cores, the L2 cache available to a quad-core-capable application can be increased from 12 MB to 24 MB. However, the Core 2 Technology is already saturated even with the smaller amount of cache and does not show any performance gains as a result. Another problem is that today's applications are not designed to take advantage of large amounts of CPU cache.

System Single Socket Dual Socket
Thread 1 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 1 - 6 MB
Thread 2 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 1 - 6 MB
Thread 3 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 2 - 6 MB
Thread 4 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 2 - 6 MB
Total 12 MB 24 MB

Because of the board's design and layout, Nvidia's SLI and ATI's Crossfire are very badly implemented. There are better choices available on the market.

While the Skulltrail system makes for a very fast computer, its availability is at least two years too soon. At present, there isn't really any way to really use its performance to its full potential. Even Adobe's expensive Premiere video editing suite can't utilize eight processor cores.

Due to the pronounced performance hits when using dual-core or quad-core optimized applications and board designs, the Skulltrail platform is simply not a good choice for gamers. A single quad-core processor is faster, more energy efficient and cheaper.

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  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2008 12:59 PM
    I am a 3D artist so this MoBo will be in my next workstation anyway, but for extreme gamers this review completely missed the point and by more than a mile! First off, looking through all the benchmarks, the overclocked skull trails are top of the bunch in nearly every test, and sometimes way ahead of the others, and anyone that’s going to buy this MoBo is going to overclock! Secondly, I don’t think anyone is going to care about a little extra fan noise for this kind of power, and most likely extremist gamers and 3D pros will use liquid cooling on the CPU’s and Southbridge anyway. But the biggest point of all that toms hardware completely missed is that this MoBo is future proof! Within the next 2 years, 8 core single chips processors will be a reality from Intel and AMD and game developers are going to take full advantage of this I assure you! So in 2 years time when you people that decided to buy a single socket qx9770 system because of this review, and are looking at the benchmarks of people running 8 core systems on the latest games, you’ll probably be cursing toms hardware for this dumb review and feeling sick to the stomach that its upgrade time again, while the people that don’t believe everything toms hardware says is “the law“, and don’t have their heads firmly squeezed up toms dark and scary place, and that are capable of free thinking, will have a huge smile on their faces that their systems brought 2 years ago can still compete with the big boys and that they wisely spent those few extra $$$, £££ or €. I’m certainly not going to let a few games running ever so slightly slower in the now, putting me off buying a MoBo that will run the next gen of kick ass games 1 or 2 years from now. Dumb review toms Hardware dumb!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 10, 2008 2:14 AM
    Intel BIOS release 1140 officially supports FSB overclocking and memory ratio overriding. FB-DIMM 800 sticks are also way cheaper now than 6 months ago and I guess they will score sky high with active cooling and low latencies. what about a new testing of the platform with a couple of X5272 to show how easily they cross 4GHz? As my point of criticism, this article should stress the price of the skulltrail is less than half of a single QX9770/QX9775 processor and building a 1P intel system with nvidia chipset can be way harder than this 2P offering.