Athlon On The Fast Lane: Three Motherboards with nForce2-Chipset and Dual-Channel DDR

Test Setup

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Basic Hardware
ProcessorAMD Athlon XP 2800+ (2.25 GHz)
Main Memory2x 256 MB PC3500 CL2, Corsair Micro
Hard DriveIBM DeskStar 60GXP, IC35040, 40 GB, 7.200 U/ Min, NTFS
Graphics CardAsus V8460, GeForce 4 TI4600, 128 MB
Common Hardware
Network Adapter3COM 3C905-TX
Drivers & Settings
Graphics DriverDetonator 4 Series Version 30.82
Chipset DriversnVIDIA driver 1.13
DirectX Version8.1
Screen Resolution1024x768x16, 85 HzSPECviewperf : 1280x1024x32, 85 Hz
Operating SystemWindows 2000 Professional SP3
Quake III ArenaRetail Version 1.16command line = +set cd_nocd 1 +set s_initsound 0Graphics detail set to ’Normal’Benchmark using ’Q3DEMO1’
Unreal Tournament 2003Official Demo
Comanche 4Official Demo
WinACE2.20, best compression, Dictionary 4096 kB
SPECviewperfVersion 7.0, all tests
mpeg4 encodingXmpeg 4.5DivX 5.02 Pro (YV12)Compression/ quality : HighestData Rate : 780 kBitFormat : 720x576 Pixel@25 fps150 MB VOB file, no Audio
Sysmark 2002Internet Content Creation
Lame MP3Lame 3.91 MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNow !
PCMark 2002Memory Bandwidth Benchmark
3DMark 2001SEDefault Resolution : 1024x768x32

In order to compare the nForce2 boards’ performance to that of the KT400, we took the fastest KT400 motherboard currently available, an Asus A7V8X. You will find its benchmark results in each chart.

Benchmark Results

All benchmarks were performed with DDR333 memory at CL2, as this is the fastest configuration for nForce2. However, we also ran our benchmark suite at DDR400. The result is quite surprising, as there definitely are applications that benefit from DDR400.

In addition, we took the fastest board (Asus) and repeated the benchmark suite with only single-channel mode to find out what the real performance gap is between KT400 and nForce2 under the same conditions.

CPU Clock/ FSB Clock

As FSB overclocking within a range of 1-2 MHz can have tremendous impact on benchmark results, we regularly check if the manufacturers adhere to the specifications. Winning reviews by slightly overclocking the system means cheating the customer.

Interesting to see that all three companies stick exactly to the specifications. One reason for this is that the nForce2 chipset does not require an external clock generator.