Ok, we?ve seen what the system
is capable of, but what about gaming? What kind of 3D
performance are we looking at? Well, let?s find out.
Benchmarks with 3D Mark 2001 SE
Also from MadOnion was 3DMark
2001 SE, which really puts graphics capabilities to the
test by using a lot of shading and rendering techniques.
Since we are looking for more system related scores, and
not looking to test the video card only, we used lower
resolutions and color depths than you would normally see in a
video card review.
At 640x480x16, the onboard
Intel Extreme graphics obviously get romped by the GF4,
but no one expected it to take on the king of the hill. Overclocking gave us a sweet 13,033.
At the next two resolutions we
see the same exact breakdown of scores. There really isn?t
much else to say except the DFI NB76-EA when pared with a GF4 seems to
be a capable gaming system.
Performance with Quake 3
I also thought I would throw
in a quick Quake 3 Score to give a real-world result.
3DMark 2001 SE is a good way to compare two systems, but
what can we expect in a real gaming situation? Once again,
we set Quake to it's fastest setting, at 640x480x16 bit color,
with the lowest available graphic settings.
The onboard video pumped out a
healthy 91 frames per second, which is ?good enough? for
basic gaming. Not shown here, I did run these again at
1024x768, and still managed to get 42.6
fps out of the Intel Extreme Graphics. This is still good
enough to enjoy the game, especially for non-hardcore
gamers who don?t mind turning down the graphics settings
some, or only play the occasional game or two. The
Transcend board outclassed the DFI NB76-EA by 10% or
so, until we got to overclocking, after which we zipped
through the demo at an ungodly 282.4 FPS.
"Real World" Performance with
Last, but not least, are
two benchmarks from Ziff Davis ? Business Winstone
2001 and Content Creation Winstone 2002.
Business Winstone is an application-based benchmark,
which runs through a series of scripts using business
programs such as Microsoft Office 2000, FrontPage
2000, Lotus Notes and Netscape. It attempts to emulate
a business system load, and then gives a rating. We
left the default setting so that these scripts were
done five times and the final score given.
At stock speeds, the DFI
NB76-EA was right on
with the Transcend board, and from there it just got
better and better. Replacing the onboard video with
the GeForce 4 card bumped up the score 2 points, and
installing IAA gave us another 4. Overclocking brought
us up to 62.3, over a 20% increase from the original
Content Creation Winstone 2002 is another
application-based benchmark, this time using popular
content creation programs such as Adobe Photoshop and
Premiere, Macromedia Director and Dreamweaver, and
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder. It keeps these
multiple applications open and switches among them
while running scripts.
The scores were all close,
save for the one obtained while overclocking.
Interestingly, there was no big increase after
applying IAA as we had seen with the Business Winstone.
We ran the
DFI NB-76EA through its paces, and clearly it produced
solid results. The claims about
IAA resulting in performance increases were proven, I feel, by the
difference in benchmark scores before and after
installing it. Installation was smooth, and I recommend
using all the drivers included on the CD, in the order they
appear; top to bottom to get the best results. As for
stability, only once did the system lock up or give a
serious error, and that was when heavily overclocking. The
system booted, but was starting to become unstable and
I had to manually restart the system after Windows became
This could be the kind of product that shrewd IT
departments will be looking for since very capable
video, audio, and LAN solutions already come on the
board. It also comes with USB 2.0 ports which can
reach speeds up to 480 Mbps/second, perfect for digital
cameras, web cams, or other external devices. The
inclusion of something as innovative as the Smart Card
reader, which can be used to secure a workstation, and
the built-in safety of the Bitguard system and onboard
LEDs show that DFI is committed to making feature
rich, yet stable systems.
I was only able to compare the DFI NB-76EA to one
other board, but I think the numbers still show that
this is a very capable product. DFI is looking ahead by providing
support for Pentium 4s that use a 533MHz FSB and by
unofficially supporting DDR333 memory speeds,
allowing for future upgradeability, which means you
won?t have to go looking for a new board anytime soon.
Even though the Intel Extreme graphics put up a decent
showing, it comes at the sacrifice of true hardware
T&L, something which new games are using more and
more, and I would really have to recommend that gamers
pick up a something more powerful. Looking
at the complete package presented before me, and the
results of my tests, I give the DFI NB-76EA a 9 on the
HotHardware Heat Meter.
Discuss This, Or
Any Other Review in the PC Hardware Forum!