NF4 Ultra Shoot-Out: Abit vs. MSI vs. ECS

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Our Test Systems & SiSoft SANDRA

          

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 its "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults."  We then manually configured our system RAM to run at 200MHz (DDR400), with the timings set by the SPD.  The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional (SP2) was installed. When the installation was complete, we hit the Windows Update site and downloaded all of the available updates, with the exception of the ones related to Windows Messenger (*except for the WorldBench 5 scores.  Those were run on a clean install of XP with only SP2 installed). Then we installed all of the necessary drivers and removed Windows Messenger from the system altogether. Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, and we set up a 768MB 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...

Test System Specifications
"AMD Inside!"
SYSTEM 1:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+

(2.4GHz)

Abit Fatal1ty AN8
MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum
ECS KN1 Extreme

NVIDIA nForce 4 Ultra

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL2

GeForce 6800 GT

Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.89
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 2:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+

(2.4GHz)

MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI
NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL2

GeForce 6800 GT

Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.89
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 3:
Pentium 4 EE 3.73GHz
(LGA 775)

ASUS P5ND2-SLI
NF4 SLI Intel Edition Chipset

2x512MB Corsair DDR2667

CL 3

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board 10/100 Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.89
nForce 4 Drivers v7.02
DirectX 9.0c
Preliminary Benchmarks with SiSoft SANDRA 2005
Synthetic Testing

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 subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2005 suite (CPU, Multimedia, and Memory).  All of these tests were run with our processor set to its default clock speed of 2.4GHz (12x200MHz).  (Note: Some of these boards ran the processor with a default FSB higher than 200MHz. Where necessary, we manually set the FSB to 200MHz to keep the playing field level.)

SANDRA's CPU Arithmetic benchmark didn't show much variation between the different test systems.  All of the AMD based nForce 4 powered systems produced similar results. The NF4 Intel Edition board had somewhat higher FPU scores because this is a multi-threaded and the system had HyperThreading enabled, but keep in ming this is a synthetic CPU benchmark that reports scores that are difficult to translate into any real-world performance scenarios.

 

The SANDRA Multimedia benchmark also reported very little variation between the different AMD powered systems. And again, because this is a multi-threaded benchmark, the HyperThreading enabled Pentium 4 powered nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition system had a measurable advantage.

 

SANDRA's Memory Bandwidth Benchmark reported raw bandwidth numbers that fell in-line with our expectations. Once again, all of the AMD powered systems were grouped tightly, with slight advantages going to the Abit and MSI boards. The ECS KN1 Extreme did not perform badly, but its scores were just a bit behind the competing boards from Abit and MSI.

Tags:  MSI, ECS, MS, shoot, Ultra, F4, Abit, SHO, ULT

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