Performance Comparisons with 3DMark
Next up is
3DMark 2001 SE, also created by the folks at MadOnion.
Due to the fact that we are looking
for more system related scores, and not looking to stress
the video capabilities, we used lower resolutions than you
would normally see in a graphics card review. We ran
two series of tests, one at 800x600 with 32-bit color and
again at 1024x768x32, both times with all other program
settings left at their defaults.
The MSI 648 Max walloped the
other two boards by a margin of 600-800 points, which
relates to a 5-6% difference in performance.
Overclocking the system only bumped up the score by
about 400 points.
The differences at 1024x768 were much less than we saw at 800x600, but still
noteworthy. There MSI 648 Max held a 3% lead over the DFI
board and a 4% increase over the IWILL board.
Performance Comparisons with Quake 3
I have the
need...the need for speed
We also ran
some Quake 3 Arena v1.17 Time Demo (demo001) scores at a
resolution of 640X480, using 16-bit color and textures.
Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card at this low
resolution isolates motherboard and processor
performance. Frame rates are limited by the number of
polygons the CPU is able to push through the bus, without
being limited by the graphics subsystem.
At these minimal settings, the demo
goes by in a heartbeat, and all boards came up with
similar framerates except for the IWILL board, which beat out
the others by close to 30 frames per second. The MSI
648 Max had a decent showing at 337.3, but we were only able to
pump put an extra two frames per second when overclocking the system.
"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.
At default clockspeeds,
the MSI 648 Max was outpaced by both of the i845
powered motherboards. When we overclocked the
system, the 648 Max was able to overtake the DFI
board, but Iwill's P4ES held on for the win in this
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 time it takes to
completely run the scripts is used to generate the
Using the Content
Creation Winstone benchmark, the 648 Max
rebounded back into the lead, and retook its place at the top of the
charts. All the scores were close, with the
differences among the three boards being only 0.8.
In both tests, overclocking provided a small boost
in performance, about 3% in Business Winstone 2001
and only just about 1.5% in Content Creation
Overall, we were pleased
with the MSI 648 Max. The SiS648 is the most
feature rich, and arguably the fastest DDR chipset
available for the Pentium 4. Even though the 648
brings more features to the table than most other P4
chipsets, motherboards based on the 648 are relatively
inexpensive. The MSI 648 Max can be found on
Pricewatch.Com for less than $100 US. We
obviously don't base our ratings on price alone
though. We had limited success when overclocking
with the MSI 648 Max, and there were some minor
problems with the BIOS and layout. However, the
MSI 648 Max proved to be a solid performer, leading
the pack in most of the benchmarks we ran. It
was also crammed with useful features, like Gigabit
LAN and 6-Channel audio. For the money, you'd be
hard pressed to find a more feature laden board from a
manufacturer as well known as MSI. We should
also mention that the MSI 648 Max was very stable, and
exhibited instability only while overclocked. Based on its
good performance, great price and impressive list of
features, we give the MSI 648 Max an
8 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.
AGP 8x Support
- Great Price
vs. Performance ratio
- No IDE RAID
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