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Ultimate DIY Performance PC: EVGA & Intel Infused
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Date: Aug 04, 2010
Section:Motherboards
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

Every once in a while a product comes along that really gets us worked into a frenzy. Typically, the latest and greatest processors and graphics cards generate a lot of buzz around here, but some other components aren’t always as enticing for one reason or another, like motherboards for example. Don’t get us wrong, we love a great enthusiast-class motherboard with a ton of features as much as the next guy, but the majority of them just don’t have the appeal of new CPU or GPU.

There are exceptions, of course. Most recently, a number of Asus’ RoG, Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable, and MSI’s Big Bang boards come to mind. And looking back boards like the legendary Abit BP6 and even the VP6 were great. The dual-socket configurations of the BP6 and VP6 were of particular interest to many enthusiasts, because when paired with the right processors and workloads they could offer performance that no single-socket board could match. The big two processors manufacturers have even used dual-socket or 2P platforms to showcase cutting-edge “desktop” products from time to time, like AMD’s Quad Father or Intel’s Skulltrail.

Dual socket motherboards have been a mainstay in the workstation market for ages, but they’re not as common in the enthusiast space. So, when we see one, we’re usually excited to check it out.

Such was the case with the EVGA Classified SR-2. We first laid our hands on the Classified SR-2 at CES 2010 and were recently given the opportunity to take one for a spin around the lab. While preparing to test the board, however, a couple of important points led us in a somewhat different direction than a straight-up motherboard review. The EVGA Classified SR-2’s requirements are unlike any other desktop motherboard you’ve seen to date. And to meet those requirements meant reeling in some other exciting hardware in its own right.

On the pages ahead, not only will we be checking out the EVGA Classified SR-2, but we’ll be showcasing a pair of the most powerful processors currently on the market, along with the only 6-Channel CAS 6 memory kit available and an as-yet-to-be released case capable of housing it all. The end result is arguably the most powerful foundation for desktop PC platform an enthusiast could wish for to date...


EVGA's Classified SR-2, two Intel Xeon 5680 Processors, and G.SKILL's CAS 6 RAM


Dual Intel Xeon 5680 Processors - 24 Threads of Processing Beefcake

EVGA Classified SR-2 Motherboard
Specifications & Features

 


The EVGA Classified SR-2's specifications hint at the board's extreme nature, but don't tell the whole story by any means. We'll dig deeper on the pages ahead, but first we should talk about the chipset at the heart of the SR-2, Intel's 5520. It, after all, is the foundations that brings all of the board's integrated features together. 


Intel 5520 Chipset Block Diagram

The Intel 5520 chipset is somewhat similar to the X58 Express in terms of its features, but it obviously targeted at the high-end workstation market as is evidenced by its multiple QPI links and support for Xeon series processors. Like its desktop-bound counterpart, The 5520 IOH is paired to the ICH10R Southbridge, which adds PCI Express Gen 1, Serial ATA, USB 2.0, and Ethernet connectivity. Due to the fact that Xeon 5500 / 5600 series processors feature integrated on-die memory controllers, the 5520 IOH isn't a traditional Northbridge. It does, however, sport multiple QPI links and 36 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 connectivity.

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EVGA Classified SR-2 Motherboard

 

The EVGA Classified SR-2 is one behemoth of a motherboard. At first glance, other than the attractive black-and-red color scheme, the sheer size of the motherboard in comparison to standard ATX offerings is immediately apparent.

  

The EVGA Classified SR-2 is an HPTX form factor motherboard, measuring 13.6” long by 15” wide. It is absolutely huge. As such, it will not fit in any run of the mill full tower. More on that later though.

As we’ve mentioned, the SR-2 is built around Intel’s 5520 chipset, which supports socket 1366 Intel Xeon 5600 and 5500 series processors. If you’re unfamiliar with Xeon 5600 and 5500 series, they’re essentially the workstation class equivalents of the desktop oriented 32nm and 45nm Core i7 processors. The CPU sockets on the SR-2 are anodized in black and feature 3x the amount of gold content than standard sockets, which EVGA claims will enhance conductivity.

   

Although the sockets have 1366 pins like their desktop counterparts, the SR-2 requires coolers designed for Xeon processors, which have four retentions screws, rather than the push pins we’re used to on the desktop. While we’re talking cooling, the SR-2 also sports a large active cooler on the ICH10R Southbridge and NF200 switch incorporated into the board, a couple of additional heatsinks on the dual 8-phase digital PWMs accompanying each CPU socket.

As you can see, the board is outfitted with nothing but PCI Express x16 slots, which have flexibly PCI Express lane configurations and can accommodate 2-way, 3-way, and even 4-way SLI and CrossFire configurations. The SR-2 even has jumpers built in that give users the ability to disable PCI Express lanes for troubleshooting or extreme overclocking purposes.

  

Each socket is accompanied by a bank of six DDR3 DIMM slots, and scattered about the board are a number of additional power connectors. In addition to the 24-pin ATX and dual 8-pin CPU power connectors; there are a trio of supplementary PCI Express 6-pin power connectors like those that would normally be used for graphics cards. These additional connectors are only required when using multi-GPU graphics configurations or for extreme overclocking.

To further support the extreme overclocking crowd, the EVGA Classified SR-2 also features a row of contact points for voltage monitoring via a multi-meter, and integrated power, reset, and clear CMOS switches. And the board is built using nothing but high-quality solid capacitors.

  

We should also point out that in addition to exploiting all of the features available in the 5520 chipset; the EVGA Classified SR-2 is outfitted with NEC USB 3.0 and Marvell SATA 6G controllers, as well. In total, the board has 6 SATA II ports, 2 SATA III ports, and 2 SATA II eSATA ports, and 2 USB 3.0 and 10 USB 2.0 ports.

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EVGA Classified SR-2 Motherboard (Cont.)

The EVGA Classified SR-2 also ships with a fully-loaded accessory bundle, which includes the company’s ECP V3 (EVGA Control Panel) module.

   

   
EVGA Classified SR-2 Accessory Bundle

The accessory bundle includes the obligatory driver CD, which also contains a copy of EVGA’s E-LEET system tweaking utility, a rear case I/O panel, two CPU backplates, six SATA data cables, 3 SATA power adapters, 2-way / 3-way / 4-way SLI bridge connectors, a four-port USB bracket, a case badge, a user’s manual and a quick visual installation guide.


EVGA ECP V3 (EVGA Control Panel) Module

It’s nice to see all these accessories included with the board considering its extreme nature, but the most interesting piece of kit has to be the ECP V3 module.  This little module connects to the board via a ribbon cable and array of wiring, and gives users “remote” access to power, reset, and clear CMOS switches, a POST code error reporter, three additional switches to bump up CPU voltages by .1v and maximize fan speeds, and jumpers for disability PCI Express lanes.

The ECP V3 module is squarely targeted at hardcore overclockers that desire precise control and easy access to simple voltage and fan speed toggles, error codes, and switches.

The I/O backplane on the EVGA Classified SR-2 sports a single PS/2 port, six USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a clear CMOS switch, 2 eSATA ports, dual gigabit Ethernet jacks, six various audio inputs / outputs, and a header for EVGA’s EVBOT remote overclocking accessory. We should point out that the LAN ports come by way of Marvell Yukon controllers and the audio by a Realtek 8-channel HD chip.

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Intel Xeon X5680: 6 Cores, 12 Threads

As we’ve mentioned the EVGA Classified SR-2 supports Intel’s Xeon 5500 and 5600 series processors. Upon initial inspection, the Xeon 5500 and 5600 series looks just like their socket 1366-based desktop counterparts, as you can see in the images below...



Intel Xeon 5680 Processors, Top and Bottom

The top sides of the CPUs are outfitted with the same basic heat-spreader design as every other Socket 1366 processor and the chips use similar packaging.

The specific chips you see pictured here are Intel’s top-of-the-line Xeon 5680 processors. They sport 6 physical cores with a 3.33GHz "stock" frequency that can jump up to 3.6GHz in Turbo mode. They also support Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, which allows each core to process two threads simultaneously and appear to the OS a two logical cores. The QPI links run at a full 6.4GT/s (3.2 DDR), and the base clock runs at 133MHz. The chip's max TDP is 130W, which is the same as the desktop Core i7 980X.

Xeon 5600 series processors are based on the Westmere microarchitecture, which is a 32nm shrink of the original 45nm Nehalem (Xeon 5500 series processors are based on the 45nm Gainestown core). Like the desktop Core i7 processors based on the Gulftown core, Xeon 5600 series processors support AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions), which accelerate AES encryption and decryption algorithms in hardware and the chips have 12MB of shared cache (Xeon 5500 series processors have 8MB).


Intel Westmere Die Map

The Xeon 5600 series processors feature a monolithic die with six execution cores. The queue engine and uncore elements reside in the center of the chip, flanked on either side by three execution cores and 1/2 of the shared L3 cache. The memory controller, miscellaneous I/O and QPI links are situated around the edges. In total, the chip is comprised of roughly 1.17B (that's billion) transistors and has a die size of about 248mm2.

The Intel Xeon 5680 is currently the company’s flagship Xeon processor.

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G.Skill's 12GB, CAS 6, 6 Channel RAM

Due to the fact that each Intel Xeon 5500 / 5600 series processor has an integrated memory controller, each chip requires its own pool of RAM.

 

To run at peak performance, a triple-channel configuration is required for each CPU, which means a minimum of six DIMMs is necessary. Thankfully, due to the popularity of Intel’s Core i7 desktop processors, which also require triple-channel memory for max performance, and the proliferation of 64-bit editions of Windows (and other OSes) high-capacity, six-DIMM memory kits are now widely available.

Considering the extreme nature of the EVGA Classified SR-2, we wanted to pair the board to an equally extreme memory kit. Ultimately, we enlisted the help of G.SKILL. The PI+ Turbulence 12GB (6 x 2GB) F3-12800CL6T2-12GBPIS kit you see here is the only 12GB, high-speed memory kit we’ve seen with a CAS latency of 6 (6-8-6-20 to be exact).

 

 

The DIMMs are outfitted with oversized, aluminum heatsinks, and require a voltage of only 1.6v. In addition, G.SKILL includes an active cooler, which can be snapped right down over the memory retention clips.

This memory kit is what we’d call a “universal” kit—it can be run at high-speeds with low-latencies and voltage, or the latencies and voltages can be increased and the kit can run at very high frequencies. If you’re a tweaker and overclocker, this kit is a great match to the EVGA Classified SR-2 in our opinion. It’s not cheap at about $400, but it offers excellent performance and flexibility.

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Lian Li PC-V2120b: A Worthy Chassis

As we mentioned earlier, the EVGA Classified SR-2 sports an HPTX form factor, which is much larger than the ubiquitous ATX form factor of most desktop motherboards. The good thing about this large form factor is that EVGA had a lot of room to work with to keep the layout clean and integrate lots of bells and whistles, but a major downside is that the motherboard simply won’t fit in the vast majority of cases currently on the market.


The Lian Li PC-V2120A

At this point, the EVGA Classified SR-2 can only be installed (without modifications) in a handful of Mountain Mods cases using an updated motherboard tray, and a couple of Lian Li cases. For the purposes of our build, we reached out to Lian Li and were one of the first to get our hands on a new PC-V2120 prototype, fresh of the show floor at Computex.

   

   

The Lian LI PC-V2120 is an ultra-high-quality, all aluminum full tower, designed for enthusiasts or workstation professionals. The case will be offered in three versions, the PC-V2120B, which is black with a brushed aluminum interior, the PC-V2120A, which is all brushed aluminum, and the PC-V2120X, which is black inside and out.
The case is as spacious as can be—it has to be to accommodate the SR-2—and it outfitted with a ton of drive bays and cooling options. There is an integrated fan controller on the front, behind the finned door that covers the entire fascia. There are dual 140mm intake fans at the front, additional 120mm exhaust fans positions at the top (there were two on our prototype, but retail versions will have three), a 120mm rear mounted fan, and two more internal fans inside a movable drive mount and on an optional motherboard fan (the motherboard fan has to be removed for the SR-2 to fit).

   

There are positions for 11 expansion slots, 12 drive bays (four external 5.25”), and a separate zone at the bottom of the case for the PSU. There is sound deadening material installed on the side panels and front, and all of the intake fan positions have filters to prevent dust build up.

At the top of the case, four USB ports (2.0 or 3.0) are available, along with an eSATA port and headphone and microphone jacks, all under a little door that features the Lian Li logo.

As is typical of Lian Li products, the PC-V2120 is of the utmost quality. Even the prototype we worked with features excellent fit and finish and a flawless appearance. It’s a $499 - $549 case depending on your color choice, which isn’t cheap, but it’s an ideal enclosure for a system based on the EVGA Classified SR-2.

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BIOS and Overclocking

Although the EVGA Classified SR-2 is built around Intel’s 5520 workstation-class chipset, it actually features a BIOS that’s more akin to an enthusiast-class, overclocker-friendly motherboard. This is important to point out because the vast majority of workstation motherboards for Xeon processors do not support any sort of overclocking and usually have minimal options for performance tuning and tweaking.

While the EVGA Classified SR-2 does have an extensive array of voltage and frequency related options, that will surely appease the hardcore overclockers out there, we do think it can use a bit of refinement. The board was stable and we didn’t experience and BIOS-related glitches, but its layout is somewhat mundane and there are minimal explanations as to what each feature does. Savvy users won’t really mind this, but it would still be useful to have at least some explanations listed. At the very least, we would have liked to have seen the default values for each option listed at the right so users could more easily see what the recommended values are for things like IOH and CPU PLL voltages.

Overclocking The Intel Xeon 5680s with EVGA's Classified SR-2
It Doesn't Get More Powerful Than This--For Now.

Of course, with such a powerful platform at our disposal even in its stock form, we wanted to see how easily it could be pushed and how far it would go with little more than some quality air-coolers and a small voltage bump.

With an additional .15 volts for each processor and the memory set at the processor’s recommended max of 1.65v, we were easily able to hit 4.1GHz with the Xeon 5680s, for an increase of about 800MHz over stock (disregarding Turbo Mode). At this kind of frequency, the platform obviously offers extreme performance, as is evident by the Cinebench 11.5 score shown here, which makes even the Core i7 980X and Skulltrail seem quaint in comparison.

We should also point out, that while we were easily able to overclock the SR-2 and that >4.1GHz is nothing to sneeze at; this motherboard and these processors are capable of MUCH more using more exotic cooling methods and higher voltages. We’ve seen scores at 4.6GHz with liquid cooling and even higher with LN2. The point we’d like to get across is that the EVGA Classified SR-2 is capable of extreme overclocking feats, in the right hands.

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Our Test Systems and SANDRA

Test System Configuration Notes: When configuring our test systems for this article, we first entered their respective system BIOSes and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High performance Defaults". We then saved the settings, re-entered the BIOS and set memory timings manually, enabled AHCI, and disabled any proprietary auto-overclocking features. The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we updated the OS, and installed the drivers necessary for our components. Auto-Updating and Windows Defender were then disabled, finally, we installed all of our benchmarking software, performed a disk clean-up, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests.

 HotHardware's Test Systems
 Intel and AMD - Head To Head
System 1:
Intel Xeon 5680
(3.33GHz Six-Core x 2)

EVGA Classified SR-2
(Intel 5520 Chipset)

6x2GB G.SKILL DDR3-2000
(@ 1333MHz, CAS 6)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD150 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA 

Windows 7 x64
System 2:
Core i7 980X
(3.33GHz - Six-Core)

Gigabyte EX58A-UD5
(X58 Express Chipset)

3x2GB OCZ DDR3-1333
(@ 1333MHz, CAS 8)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD150 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA 

Windows 7 x64
System 3:
Phenom II X6 1090T
(3.2GHz Six-Core)

MSI 890FXA-GD70
(890FX Chipset)

2x2GB OCZ DDR3-1333
(@ 1333MHz, CAS 8)

GeForce GTX 280
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD150 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA 

Windows 7 x64
System 4:
Core 2 Extreme QX9775
(3.2GHz - Quad-Core x 2)

Intel D5400XS
(5400 Series Chipset)

4x2GB Kingston FBDIMM
CL 5-5-5 - DDR2-800

GeForce GTX 280 
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD150 "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows 7 x64
 Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2010 SP1
 Synthetic Benchmarks

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2010 SP1, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA suite with the SR-2 and a pair of Intel Xeon 5680s (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, and Memory Bandwidth).  All of the scores reported below were taken with the processors running at their default clock speeds of 3.33GHz but with Turbo Mode enabled.

   
SiSoft SANDRA CPU Arithmetic > Multimedia > Memory Bandwidth

The numbers put up in SANDRA by the EVGA Classified SR-2 when paired to a duo of Intel's flagship Xeons are nothing short of spectacular. The dual-Xeon 5680s outpace even a quartet of Opterons in aggregate arithmetic performance, with a score of 258.37 GOPS. Aggregate multi-media performance for the platform exceeded 488MPix/s, and total memory bandwidth was just shy of 36GB/s.

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PCMark Vantage

Next up, we ran a number of different test systems through Futuremark’s most recent system performance metric, PCMark Vantage. PCMark Vantage runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity.  Many of the tests are multi-threaded as well, so the tests can exploit the additional resources offered by a multi-core CPUs.

Before we get to the numbers, we should point out a problem we uncovered with Vantage. It seems the benchmark has issues running on machines with more than 6 logical processor cores. The benchmark had no problem running on the Core i7 980X (6 physical cores + 6 logical cores) or Skulltrail (8 physical cores, 2 processors), but on the SR-2 with dual Xeon 5680s (12 physical cores + 12 logical cores, 2 processors), Vantage would error out upon launching the benchmark. The solution was to disable Hyper-Threading via the system BIOS so the SR-2 / Xeon combo appears as 12 physical cores only to the OS.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

Even with HyperThreading disabled, the EVGA Classified SR-2 with dual Intel Xeon 5680 processors put up the best scores overall, decimating the 2P Skulltrail platform and Phenom II X6. The Core i7 980X, however, was right there beside it, for two likely reasons: the 980X has HT enabled here, so it could process 12 threads simultaneously, and Vantage isn't fully capable of exploiting all of the horsepower offered by the EVGA Classified SR-2 when paired to Intel's flagship Xeon 5680 processors and a bevy of fast RAM.

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3DMark06 and 3DMark Vantage

3DMark06's built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded DirectX gaming metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems.  This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are processed with a software renderer that is dependent on the host CPU's performance.  Calculations that are normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the CPU for processing and rendering.  The frame-rate generated in each test is used to determine the final score.

Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

 

3DMark06 was developed before multi-core desktop systems were prevalent, so it's comes as no surprise that this benchmark cannot exploit the additional resources afforded by the SR-2 / Xeon combo. The SR-2 was the leader by a considerable margin, but the 980X isn't all that far behind.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming

3DMark Vantage's CPU Test 2 is a multi-threaded test designed for comparing relative game physics processing performance between systems.  This test consists of a single scene that features an air race of sorts, with a complex configuration of gates. There are aircraft in the test that trail smoke and collide with various cloth and soft-body obstacles, each other, and the ground. The smoke spreads, and reacts to the planes as they pass through it as well and all of this is calculated on the host CPU.

3DMark Vantage's CPU Test 2 shows a larger spread than 3DMark06, but not what you'd expect from such a monster system. The EVGA Classified SR-2 / Dual Xeon 5680 combo ends up being only about 12% faster than the Core i7 980X in this benchmark, but is considerably faster than any of the other platforms.

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Cinbench and POV-Ray

Cinebench R11.5 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput.

Cinebench R11.5
3D Rendering

This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system was able to render the entire scene is represented by the Cinebench scores in the graph below.

Umm. Wow. Obviously Cinebench has no trouble taxing all of the cores--both logical and physical--available with the SR-2 / Xeon combo. In this test, it nearly doubles the performance of Intel's most powerful desktop processor and leaves everything else in its wake.

POV-Ray Performance
Ray Tracing

POV-Ray , or the Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer, is a top-notch open source tool for creating realistically lit 3D graphics artwork. We tested with POV-Ray's standard 'all-CPU' benchmarking tool on all of our test machines, and recorded the scores reported for each. Results are measured in pixels-per-second throughput; higher scores equate to better performance.

POV-Ray proved to be another strong point for the EVGA Classified SR-2. In this benchmark, like Cinebench above, the SR-2 nearly doubled the performance of the Core i7 980X in the multi-threaded portion of the test and smoked everything else. The single-threaded portion of the benchmark shows what is to be expected--a single core on any Core i7 Nehalem derivative is going to perform similarly, at like clock speeds.

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Gaming: Crysis, ETQW, HAWX

For our next set of tests, we moved on to some in-game benchmarking with Crysis and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. When testing processors with Crysis or ET:QW, we drop the resolution to 800x600, and reduce all of the in-game graphical options to their minimum values to isolate CPU and memory performance as much as possible.  However, the in-game effects, which control the level of detail for the games' physics engines and particle systems, are left at their maximum values, since these actually do place some load on the CPU rather than GPU.

Low-Resolution Gaming: Crysis and ET: Quake Wars
Taking the GPU out of the Equation

 



 
Somewhat surprisingly, the EVGA Classified SR-2 / Dual Xeon 5680 combo just missed the mark set by the Core i7 980X in our low-res gaming tests. We suspect these scores are a result of two thing--first, the games aren't capable of fully taxing all of the processor resources available. And second, there is likely some additional overhead introduced by data having to be shared between two processors and memory controllers. Regardless, the scores are still excellent.

High-Resolution Gaming: Crysis and HAWX
Taxing The GPUs

For this next round of game tests, we abandoned the singe GeForce GTX 280 in favor of a pair of GeForce GTX 480s running in SLI mode. We wanted to throw an ultra-powerful pair of graphics card in the system to see how it would behave while gaming at very high resolutions and image quality settings. Here, we compared the EVGA Classified SR-2 / dual Xeon 5680 combo to a Core i7 980X in a couple of graphically intense games.



The high-resolution game tests seem to jibe with our low-res tests above, but for a different reason. When a game is limited by the graphics subsystem, or is 'GPU-bound', peak performance is determined by the graphics card's capabilities. And that's what we're seeing here.

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Total System Power Consumption

We'd like to cover a few final data points before bringing this article to a close. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the processors alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

With two processor sockets loaded with a pair of Intel's best Xeons and double the number of memory sticks in the system, it should come as no surprise that the EVGA Classfied SR-2 / dual Xeon 5680 combo consumes a good amount of power. The results of our testing, however, aren't as extreme as you may think. While idling, the SR-2 setup consumed only 48 more watts than the Core i7 980X. Under load conditions, consumption jumped significantly though, and the EVGA Classified SR-2 / Dual Xeon 5680 combo used 141 more watts than the 980X. That's a lot of juice, relatively speaking; but we have to say, when paired with the right coolers, heat and noise are non-issues (we used a pair of Thermalright 120s).

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The performance of the EVGA Classified SR-2, when powered by a pair of Intel's flagship Xeon 5680 processors, is nothing short of impressive, for the most part. In synthetic tests and multi-threaded benchmarks that can exploit all of the processor resources afforded by the platform, the EVGA Classified SR-2 / dual Xeon 5680 combo put up some excellent numbers, that nearly doubled the performance of the current top-of-the-line Core i7 980X. In applications that can't fully tax the platform, however, much of the power of the EVGA Classified SR-2 / dual Xeon 5680 combo is untapped and performance, while still good, isn't that much better than a powerful desktop PC that's powered by a single CPU.

If there's one thing we really like around here it's high performance. And in the current PC landscape, you can't do much better than a 2P platform designed for Intel's flagship Xeon processors built around the company's premiere chipset. Couple that with the fact that EVGA has pulled out all the stops and equipped the Classified SR-2 with numerous overclocking and performance-tweaking related features, as well as having integrated the latest IO technologies like USB 3.0 and SATA 6G; from a technological standpoint, it's difficult to not be enamored by the the board. The EVGA Classified SR-2 is geek-porn personified.


Yes, that's 24 CPU "cores" in Task Manager

There are some major drawbacks to such a beast, however. First, the sheer size of the EVGA Classified SR-2 severely limits the number of cases users can choose from. In fact, to date, there are only a handful that can accommodate the board's HPTX form factor, from Mountain Mods and, of course, Lian Li. There are also additional complexities to consider when assembling a dual CPU-powered system and we can't forget about cost. The EVGA Classified SR-2 commands a hefty $599 price. In light of many enthusiast-class desktop motherboards, that's a huge pill to swallow. And it also makes the SR-2 one of the most expensive Intel 5520 based boards on the market. Intel's Xeon processors also of course carry a huge premium over their similarly-clocked desktop counterparts and you'll need six memory stick to wring the most performance from the platform. If you want to play in the 2P space, you'll definitely have to pay--value be damned. 


EVGA's Classified Super Record 2, or SR-2

With that said, as small as the niche may be, we know there are those willing to drop big coin to build an ultra-powerful system like the one we tested; take a quick gander at EVGA's forum and you'll see a number of users showing off their SR-2 based rigs and benchmark scores. If you're one of the lucky few that have the means to assembled such a beast, or if you're a workstation professional type that simply must have copious amounts of processing bandwidth, the EVGA Classified SR-2 is simply an awesome product. There are no other 5520-chipset based motherboards currently available (that we can find, at least) that offer the kind of features and flexibility that the SR-2 does. This board is rock-solid stable in its default configuration and offers extensive performance tuning capabilities that would please even the most hard-core overclockers and performance enthusiasts. It's obviously not the best value out there, but in terms of performance, features, and wow-factor, it doesn't get much better than this.

 

  • Extreme Performance
  • Cutting Edge Features
  • Expansion Slot Config
  • Excellent Build Quality

 

  • Huge
  • Minimal Case Options
  • Ultra Expensive

 



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