NF4 Ultra Shoot-Out: Abit vs. MSI vs. ECS
Cinebench 2003 & 3DMark05: CPU
The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test, based on the commercially available Cinema 4D application. This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds). We ran two sets of numbers here, one in single-thread mode, and another in the benchmark's multi-thread mode for our Hyper-Threading-enabled P4 test system. Athlon 64s are only capable of running the single-thread test, hence the "WNR" listed for each A64 powered system in the graph below.
Once again, there were no major performance variations to speak of in the single-threaded Cinebench 2003 rendering test. All three of the nForce 4 Ultra motherboards we tested performed at near identical levels, with the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum and Abit Fatal1ty AN8 just barely edging out the ECS KN1 Extreme by a fraction of a frame per second.
It may not be an actual game, but 3DMark05's built-in CPU test is a "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance among similarly equipped systems. This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer, which is dependant on the host CPU's performance. This means that the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central host processor. The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.
As it turns out, every one of the Futuremark tests had each of the three motherboard's spotlighted in this article finishing in the same position. In 3DMark05's CPU performance module, the Abit Fatal1ty AN8 finished with the highest score, followed by the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum and then the ECS KN1 Extreme. Once again though, the performance delta separating the boards was so small, it's essentially irrelevant.