Does Chipset-to-GPU Matching Matter?

Test Setup

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System Hardware
Socket 775 ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo E6700(Conroe 65 nm, 2.67 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
Intel Chipset MotherboardMSI P965 Platinum (Intel P965 Express Chipset)BIOS 1.3 (1-18-2007)
ATI Chipset MotherboardDFI ICFX3200-T2R/G (ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200)BIOS 212 (2-12-2007)
Nvidia Chipset MotherboardECS PN2 SLI2+ (nForce 680i SLI)BIOS P25 (02/08/2007)
ATI Graphics CardSapphire X1950XTX 512M PCI-E D-DVI/VIVOATI Radeon X1950XTX (650 MHz), 512 MB GDDR4 (1550 MHz)
Nvidia Graphics CardFoxconn GeForce 8800GTX, P/N : FV-N88XMAD2-ODNVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX (575 MHz), 768 MB GDDR3 (1800 MHz)
RAMCorsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8888C4DF2x 1024 MB DDR2-1111 (CL 4.0-4-4-12)
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD1500ADFD-00NLR1, Firmware : 20.07P20150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB cache, SATA/150
Power SupplyOCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI - 700W
System Software & Drivers
OSWindows XP Professional 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform DriversIntel Platform : INF SB600 Platform : nForce 9.53
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 7.2Nvidia Forceware 97.92

Corsair Dominator 8888 was chosen for its ability to run 1066 MHz at CAS4, in hopes that all three motherboards would support this speed. EPP allowed automatic timing and voltage optimization using the "Expert" setting at a 1066 MHz data rate on the nForce 680i SLI platform. Because the Intel and ATI chipset motherboards do not support EPP, these settings were manually copied to the P965 Express and Radeon Xpress 3200 motherboards for the closest performance match.

In a perfect world this all would have been well, but part of the MSI P965 Platinum’s "class leading" performance appears to be that the company secretly changes any CAS 4 setting to CAS 3, at least according to CPU-Z. Before anyone becomes enraged about this form of "cheating," I’d like to commend MSI on producing the only board I’ve used that’s actually stable using this lower latency with the majority of CAS 4.0 DDR2 800 modules. MSI did not likely predict the quick development of DDR2-1066 CAS 4, a speed at which the CAS 3 "cheat" couldn’t be 100% stable. The board was "penalized" by using the easiest fix, setting latency to 5-4-4-12 rather than 4-4-4-12, and CPU-Z reported it running as set.

The DFI ICFX3200-T2R/G also had trouble running DDR2-1066, but trial and error found an eventual solution by raising the Northbridge PLL and Core voltages. Many other users have either succeeded or failed in their attempts to make this board’s performance stable at this memory speed, so your results may vary.

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Benchmarks and Settings
Call of Duty 2Version : 1.03Video Mode : 1024x768Anti-aliasing : offShadows : notimedemo demo2
F.E.A.RVersion : 1.0 RetailVideo Mode : 1024x768Computer : MediumGraphics : MediumTest Path : Options/Performance/Test Settings
Quake 4Version : 1.2 (Dual-Core Patch)Video Mode : 1024x768Video Quality : defaultTHG Timedemo waste.maptimedemo demo8.demo 1 (1 = load textures)
Lame MP3Version 3.97 Beta 2 (12-22-2005)Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 minwave to mp3160 kbps
OGGVersion 1.1.2 (Intel P4 MOD)Version 1.1.2 (Intel AMD MOD)Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 minwave to oggQuality : 5
TMPEG 3.0 ExpressVersion : (no Audio)fist 5 Minutes DVD Terminator 2 SE (704x576) 16:9Multithreading by rendering
DivX 6.2Version : 6.2.2 (4 Logical CPUs)Profile : High Definition Profile1-pass, 3000 kb/sEncoding mode : Insane QualityEnhanced multithreadingno Audio
XviD 1.1.0Version : 1.1.0 Beta 2Target qantizer : 1.00
Autodesk 3D Studio MaxVersion : 8.0Characters "Dragon_Charater_rig"rendering HTDV 1920x1080
PCMark05 ProVersion : 1.1.0System, CPU and Memory TestsWindows Media Player Media Encoder
SiSoftware Sandra 2005Version 2005.7.10.60CPU Test = Arithmetic, Multimedia BenchmarksMemory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.