More Than Just a 'Paper Launch': 680i Motherboard Comparison, Part 1

Test Setup

System Hardware
Socket 775 Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
(Conroe 65 nm, 2.67 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
RAM Crucial Ballistix PC2-8000 PN: BL12864AA1005
2x 1024 MB DDR2-1000 (CL 5.0-5-5-15)
Hard Drive Western Digital WD1500ADFD-00NLR1, Firmware: 20.07P20
150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA/150
Graphics Card Foxconn GeForce 8800GTX, P/N: FV-N88XMAD2-OD
NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX - 768 MB
Power Supply OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI - 700W
System Software & Drivers
OS Windows XP Professional 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Drivers NVIDIA Platform: nForce 9.53
Intel Platform: INF
Graphics Driver Forceware 97.44

BIOS improvements have made Foxconn's 975X7AB-8EKRS2H competitive with top-priced parts and are a good implementation of Intel's 975X chipset by which to compare Nvidia's 680i performance. We used the most recent P20 BIOS version.

Cooler Master's Hyper TX offered a significant heat reduction compared to our most recent previous game platform shootout. Lower temperatures did not further our achievable clock speeds because we refused to push our core beyond a hopefully-safe 1.50V

NVIDIA claims its 8800GTX graphics processor and 680i chipset are optimized to work together. Rather than question Nvidia's marketing integrity, we accepted this opportunity to sample from Foxconn's new graphics line.

Crucial's Ballistix might not be the greatest "bang for the buck" memory on the market, but its stability proved superb in this test. In fact, our 680i benchmarks used the "800 MHz" at CAS 4-4-4-8 and 1T command rate. Were that not enough, we then pushed them stably to "1066 MHz" at the same latencies simply by raising the command rate to 2T! The 975X comparison board defaults to a 2T command rate and lacks manual control for such.

Western Digital's aging Raptor 150 still represents the pinnacle of desktop single-drive performance, with 10,000RPM boosting seek times and 16 MB cache assisting repetitive reads.

Benchmarks and Settings
F.E.A.R Version: 1.0 Retail
Video Mode: 1024x768
Computer: Medium
Graphics: Medium
Test Path: Options/Performance/Test Settings
Quake 4 Version: 1.2 (Dual-Core Patch)
Video Mode: 1024x768
Video Quality: default
THG Timedemo
timedemo demo8.demo 1 (1 = load textures)
Lame MP3 Version 3.97 Beta 2 (12-22-2005)
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to mp3
160 kbps
OGG Version 1.1.2 (Intel P4 MOD)
Version 1.1.2 (Intel AMD MOD)
Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min
wave to ogg
Quality: 5
TMPEG 3.0 Express Version: (no Audio)
fist 5 Minutes DVD Terminator 2 SE (704x576) 16:9
Multithreading by rendering
DivX 6.2 Version: 6.2.2 (4 Logical CPUs)
Profile: High Definition Profile
1-pass, 3000 kb/s
Encoding mode: Insane Quality
Enhanced multithreading
no Audio
XviD 1.1.0 Version: 1.1.0 Beta 2
Target qantizer: 1.00
Autodesk 3D Studio Max Version: 8.0
Characters "Dragon_Charater_rig"
rendering HTDV 1920x1080
PCMark05 Pro Version: 1.1.0
System, CPU and Memory Tests
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Encoder
SiSoftware Sandra 2005 Version 2005.7.10.60
CPU Test = Arithmetic, Multimedia Benchmarks
Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
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