Abit AW8-MAX i955X Motherboard

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Testing Setup and SANDRA

How we configured our test systems: When configuring the test systems for this review, we first entered the system BIOS and set each board to their "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults".  The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 was installed. Then we installed all of the necessary drivers, and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, and we setup a 1536MB permanent page file on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance", installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives and ran all of the tests.

NOTES: 1) As the i955X chipset supports both DDR2-533 and DDR2-667, we chose a set of Corsair XMS2 Pro DDR2 that was rated for 667MHz at 4-4-4-12 for testing.  Normally, we configure the memory using the SPD settings within the BIOS.  While this worked on the Asus P5WD2 Premium, we found that the memory was always detected as 533MHz on the Abit AW8-MAX.  As such, we manually set the memory speed to 667MHz.

2) By default, the front side bus of the Abit AW8-MAX was shown as 204MHz in CPU-Z.  As this would give an immediate advantage over the Asus P5WD2, we opted to manually lower the bus speed to 201MHz in the BIOS.  This was then reported as 200.8 MHz in CPU-Z - the same speed that the P5WD2 was operating. 

Test System Specifications
It's a Clash of the Titans!
Motherboards Tested:
Abit AW8-MAX (Intel i955X)
Asus P5WD2 Premium (Intel i955X)

Common Hardware:
Intel Pentium 4 550 Processor @ 3.4GHz
2x512MB Corsair XMS2 Pro DDR2-667 (CL 4-4-4-12)
nVidia GeForce 6800GT

On-board audio & LAN
Seagate Barracuda V SATA Hard Drive

Software / System Drivers:
Windows XP with Service Pack 2
DirectX 9.0c
Intel Chipset Software, v7.21.1003
nVidia ForceWare Drivers v77.77

Preliminary Benchmarks With SiSoft SANDRA 2005 SR2

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. SANDRA consists of a set of information and diagnostic utilities that can provide a host of useful information about your hardware and operating system. We ran three of the built-in sub-system tests (CPU Arithmetic, CPU Multimedia, and Memory Bandwidth) that partially comprise the SANDRA 2005 suite of benchmarks.  All of these tests were run with the Abit AW8-MAX powered by an Intel Pentium 4 550 3.4 GHz CPU with 1GB of Corsair XMS2 Pro DDR2 and compared against similar systems from SANDRA's database.

SANDRA CPU Arithmetic Benchmark
Pentium 4 550 @ 3.4GHz
1024MB DDR2 (CL4)

SANDRA Memory Benchmark
Pentium 4 550 @ 3.4GHz
1024MB DDR2 (CL4)

SANDRA CPU Multimedia Benchmark
Pentium 4 550 @ 3.4GHz
1024MB DDR2 (CL4)

The results of SANDRA's CPU Arithmetic benchmark showed the Arithmetic Logic Unit performance almost directly on par with the database CPU, yet the Floating Point was off just a tad, about 100 MFLOPS behind for the Abit AW8-MAX.  Likewise, the Multi-Media performance was close to expected results for a Pentium 4 550, just a few points behind in both the Integer and Floating-Point benchmarks.  The memory bandwidth was just slightly higher than a 955X board in SANDRA's database, although the only comparable choice was set to CL5 while we were running at CL4.  As we can see, the higher latencies of DDR2 are holding back the 945 and 955 boards, but this has started to change as Corsair, OCZ, and other manufacturers are starting to push out lower latency DIMMS.


Tags:  Motherboard, Abit, board, W8, AR

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