System Setup and Testing Methods

Test System Setup

Our test setup continues with our trend for motherboard and chipset reviews, using an Athlon 64 FX-53 processor and an ATI X800 XT PCI Express graphics card.  Yes, for my nForce4 SLI motherboard review, I am using an ATI X800 XT card, not an NVIDIA SLI setup.  I’m sure there will be some questions on that, so let me elaborate.  This is a motherboard review, and so we focus on what features and performance the motherboard brings to the table in as close a comparison as possible to the competing products.  As this is the second SLI motherboard we are testing, it wouldn’t really be fair to judge the gaming performance of an SLI setup on it to the single GPU performance you’d get on an ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 chipset, VIA K8T890 chipset, or even an nForce4 Ultra chipset. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the SLI performance advantage and upgrade path features aren’t a big factor in the overall platform you are choosing.  Because of that, I’ll dedicate a seperate article (to follow in the next couple days) that discusses the advantages (and disadvantages, for that matter) of SLI technology that others might have ignored. 

For now, look at this as a review of a motherboard for those looking to upgrade to possible SLI transitions, but won’t be getting a pair of $500 graphics cards just yet.

AMD Test System Setup

CPU

AMD Athlon 64 FX-53

Motherboards

Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI nForce4 SLI
Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe

Power Supply 

Antec 480 watt

Memory 

2x512MB Corsair Micro DDR500
2x512MB Kingston HyperX 4300 DDR

Hard Drive

250 GB Maxtor 7200 RPM SATA

Sound Card

Creative Labs Live!

Video Card

ATI X800 XT

Video Drivers

ATI Catalyst 4.11

DirectX Version

DX 9.0c

Operating System

Windows XP w/ Service Pack 1

 

 Intel Test System Setup

CPU

Intel 560

Motherboards

Intel 925X Reference

Power Supply 

Antec 480 watt

Memory 

2x512MB Corsair Micro DDR500

Hard Drive

250 GB Maxtor 7200 RPM SATA

Sound Card

Creative Labs Live!

Video Card

ATI X800 XT

Video Drivers

ATI Catalyst 4.11

DirectX Version

DX 9.0c

Operating System

Windows XP w/ Service Pack 1

 

The benchmarks used were:

  • SiSoft Sandra 2004 SP1
  • AIDA32
  • Cachemem
  • Quake III: Arena
  • Unreal Tournament 2003
  • X2: The Threat
  • 3D Mark 2001: SE v330
  • 3DMark03
  • Far Cry 1.1
  • Doom 3
  • PCMark04
  • Business Winstone 2004
  • Content Creation Winstone 2004
  • LAME MP3 Encoding
  • XMPEG / DivX Encoding
  • WinRAR Compression
  • CineBench 2003
  • ScienceMark 2.0 Beta
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