How We Tested
To visualize the huge performance differences between the boards, we turned to the fastest member of the Xeon DP class. We used the 3.06 GHz Xeon without L3 cache to have a reasonably priced desktop system with which to compare. RAM with registered support was provided by Mushkin modules (SPD : CL2.0 3-2-X) and Corsair storage (SPD : CL2.0 3-2-6) for the unbuffered variety.
Corsair’s unbuffered memory
Mushkin’s registered/ECC memory
The fastest possible memory timings are always used in testing, with stable operation a must. Since the choice of BIOS settings for some boards is on the conservative side, the SPD timings in this case are read and set from the motherboard itself.
An ATI Radeon 9800 XT with 256 MB set us up with the right graphics capability. To ensure that there was enough data for video encoding, a RAID 0 with two SATA 80 GB Maxtor hard drives connected via a Promise SATA RAID controller was used.
As test software, we only used programs that are SMP- (Symmetric Multi Processing) or HT- (HyperThreading) capable.