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P67, X58, And NF200: The Best Platform For CrossFire And SLI


We already knew that the fastest processor available for the P67 platform offered better performance than the fastest processor available for X58 in games, but the winning CPU can also hit higher clock speeds by virtue of the 32 nm process used to manufacture it, too. We also knew that the newer Sandy Bridge architecture is faster at the same frequency than its quad-core predecessors based on the Nehalem design. The overclock we used today should have diminished CPU bottlenecks, though.

All things being equal, the P67 platform should lose any triple-GPU gaming test due to its limited PCIe pathways compared to X58. Then again, all things are never equal. If nothing else, the settings we used to overclock the X58 platform’s processor might even be considered cheating in its favor. After all, we used a 200 MHz base clock compared to the competing platform’s 100 MHz base clock, and gave the X58 platform 2 GB more memory to enable its triple-channel function. We even encumbered our P67-compatible processor with an artificially-low overclock (compared to what we know it's capable of running at), just to keep it within the limits of its elder competitor.

Even though our attempts to make both platforms equal gives LGA 1366 an even greater bandwidth advantage, LGA 1155 still wins. Were we to remove the artificially-low O/C limit imposed upon our P67 platforms and run them at the 4.4 or 4.5 GHz we know they'll take, it would simply win by an even greater margin. And if that reasoning isn’t enough to negate the newer platform’s PCIe limits in the eyes of extreme gaming enthusiasts, adding Nvidia’s NF200 to LGA 1155 enables X58-style x16-x8-x8 connections.

While the NF200 doesn’t completely solve the dearth of PCIe lanes available on LGA 1155 platforms, its ability to send identical data to multiple cards makes it perfect for SLI and CrossFire. That benefit, when combined with the Sandy Bridge processor’s superior performance and overclocking capabilities, slams the lid on the coffin for X58 gaming. Anyone who needs the added flexibility of X58 to host other devices, such as high-end drive controllers or six-core processors in a workstation environment, must bow to the gaming superiority of NF200-equiped Sandy Bridge motherboards like Asus' P8P67 WS Revolution.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.