MSI P4N Diamond nForce4-SLI Motherboard

Article Index

Testing Setup and SANDRA Scores


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 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.

NOTE: 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 other boards, we opted to manually lower the bus speed to 200MHz in the BIOS to level the playing field.  

Test System Specifications
Intel and NVIDIA come out of their corners!
Motherboards Tested:
MSI P4N Diamond (nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition)

Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe (nForce 4 SLI X16 Intel Edition)
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 7800GT

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

Software / System Drivers:
Windows XP with Service Pack 2
DirectX 9.0c
nVidia nForce4 SLI X16 Chipset Drivers, v6.82
nVidia ForceWare Drivers v78.85

Intel INF Chipset Drivers, v7.21.1003

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 MSI P4N Diamond 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.

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

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

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

SANDRA's CPU Arithmetic and Multimedia benchmarks show that the MSI P4N Diamond is running very much on par with a reference Pentium 4 550 from the internal database.  Memory bandwidth, however, was slightly lower than what was seen with 955X boards such as the Asus P5WD2 and AW8-MAX that we will be using in this review.  When compared to the i955X boards, the bandwidth was nearly 200MB/s lower.  These results did not hold up in further testing as the PCMark05 Memory module had the nForce4-SLI boards performing at equal, if not better, levels.

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