Intel X48 Motherboard Round-up: ASUS, ECS, & Intel

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Test Systems and PCMark Vantage

 

 

How we configured our test systems: 

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 for DDR2-1066 with 5-5-5-18 or DDR3-1066 with 7-7-7-20 timings. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate 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 and we installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives, and ran all of the tests.

 HotHardware's Test Systems
 Intel Head To Head

System 1:
Core 2 Duo E6550
(2.33GHz - Dual-Core)

Asus Rampage Formula
(Intel X48 Chipset)

2x1GB OCZ Reaper HPC PC2 9200*
CL 5-5-5-18 DDR2-1150

GeForce 8800 GTS 512
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
7,200 RPM SATA 3GB/s 

Windows Vista Ultimate
INTEL INF Update v8.3.1.1010
NVIDIA Forceware v175.16

System 2:
Core 2 Duo E6550
(2.33GHz - Dual-Core) 

ECS X48T-A Black Series
(Intel X48 Chipset)

2x1GB Corsair CM3X1024*
CL 7-7-7-21 DDR3-1066

GeForce 8800 GTS 512
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
7,200 RPM SATAII

Windows Vista Ultimate
INTEL INF Update v8.3.1.1010
NVIDIA Forceware v175.16

System 3:
Core 2 Duo E6550
(2.33GHz - Dual-Core)

Intel DX48BT2 "Bonetrail 2"
(Intel X48 Chipset)

2x1GB Corsair CM3X1024*
CL 7-7-7-21 DDR3-1066


GeForce 8800 GTS 512
On-Board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
7,200 RPM SATAII

Windows Vista Ultimate
INTEL INF Update v8.3.1.1010
NVIDIA Forceware v175.16

 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
 http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmarkvantage/

For our first round of benchmarks, we ran all of the modules built into Futuremark's PCMark Vantage test suite which was updated using the November 2007 Hotfix.  Vantage is a new Windows Vista-only benchmarking tool that we've incorporated into our arsenal of tests here at HotHardware.  Here's how Futuremark positions their new benchmarking tool:

"The PCMark Suite is a collection of various single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics and HDD test sets with the focus on Windows Vista application tests. Tests have been selected to represent a subset of the individual Windows Vista Consumer scenarios. The PCMark Suite includes CPU, Graphics, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and a subset of Consumer Suite tests."

The overall PCMark Vantage score is derived from the subset of individual scenarios and suite tests, calculated in total "PCMarks".  Here are the overall results:
 



Looking at the large picture, there's really one board that stood out from the others in the total number of PCMarks: the ASUS Rampage Formula.  As we go on, you'll notice that it didn't necessarily blow away the competition in each and every module, even coming in last at least one time, but at the end of the day it won out. 
 



"Our memories are often kept in digital form. Here, large digital photos in HD Photo format are stretched, flipped and rotated using the CPU. Plenty of system memory is highly beneficial for manipulating large images. Importing digital photos to Windows Photo Gallery is where a high performance HDD shines. More and more image manipulation is being done using the GPU, enabling instantaneous color correction, sharpening and softening of images. Home video editing with Windows Movie Maker can be very time-consuming – unless you have a high performance HDD. Home videos recorded on digital video cameras are sometimes transcoded and transferred to a portable media player. High definition videos are often archived in media servers. It may, however, be handy to have them transcoded and transferred to a portable media player. A fast CPU with many cores can handle transcoding swiftly." -
Futuremark

The PCMark Vantage "Memories" suite includes the following tests:

Memories 1 - Two simultaneous threads, CPU image manipulation and HDD picture import
Memories 2 - Two simultaneous threads, GPU image manipulation and HDD video editing
Memories 3 - Video Transcoding: DV to portable device
Memories 4 - Video Transcoding: media
server archive to portable device



 

The Memories suite was a very close affair for all of our boards.  The Rampage Formula just squeezes ahead of the pack at 3486 PCMarks, while the other four all hover around 3430 to 3450.  It calculates to less than a percent difference, but it's a good start for ASUS.
 


"High definition TV broadcasts and movies have arrived. Playing an HD DVD with additional HD content, a Blu-ray movie, or watching HDTV smoothly (while making a backup of an HD DVD by transcoding to a media server or transcoding from a media server archive to a portable media player) requires lots of computing and graphical power. Windows Media Center with a high performance HDD can handle simultaneous video recording, time-shifting, and streaming to an Extender for Windows Media Center, such as Xbox 360™."

Vantage TV and Movies suite includes the following tests:

TV and Movies 1 - Two simultaneous threads, Video transcoding: HD DVD to media server archive, Video playback: HD DVD w/ additional lower bitrate HD content from HDD, as downloaded from the net
TV and Movies 2 - Two simultaneous threads, Video transcoding: HD DVD to media server archive, Video playback, HD MPEG-2: 19.39 Mbps terrestrial HDTV playback
TV and Movies 3 - HDD Media Center
TV and Movies 4 - Video transcoding: media server archive to portable device, Video playback, HD MPEG-2: 48 Mbps Blu-ray playback


 

The TV and Movies test also has the Rampage Formula on top with about the same range separating the boards as before.  Interestingly, other than the Rampage's meager leads in these first two modules, we don't see the X48 boards really raising the bar above the 780i or P35 based boards.


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