Custom Cooled Video Card Shootout: ASUS & MSI

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Test Setup & 3DMark06

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on an Asus P5K3 Deluxe motherboard powered by a Core 2 Duo E8400 processor and 2GB of RAM. The first thing we did when configuring these test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate SP2 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and NVIDIA Powered

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.0GHz)

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
(Intel P35 Express chipset)

ASUS ROG Matrix GTX285
MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC

2048MB Patriot Viper DDR3-1333 C7
(2 X 1GB)

Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Western Digital "Raptor" 150GB
(10,000RPM - SATA)

Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate SP2 (32-bit)

NVIDIA Forceware v191.07
ATI Catalyst v9.9

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark Vantage


Dawn of War 2
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
FarCry 2

Company of Heroes
Half-Life 2: Episode 2

Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark06 is the tried and tested veteran member of the 3DMark franchise. Although it has been superceded by 3DMark Vantage, it still provides relevent benchmark results. 3DMark06 ups the number of shaders to 512 and also employs lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. Note that in this version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

In our first benchmark, 3DMark06, we get our first taste of how these cards perform. The MSI R4890 Cyclone SOC take a large lead, beating out both ASUS Matrix cards. This is a somewhat surprising result as the GTX 285 is generally a faster chip than the Radeon 4890, until you consider the Cyclone SOC's massive overclock and the Matrix GTX285's modest factory OC.

The shader 2.0 and 3.0/HDR test results give us a better breakdown of how performance differed between the cards. We can see that all three cards have similar shader 2.0 performance, but differ greatly in shader 3.0/HDR performance.

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