nForce 4 SLI Motherboard Round-Up

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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)

DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR
NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL2

GeForce 6800 GT

2x GeForce 6600 GT/SLI
Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

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

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.84
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

2x GeForce 6600 GT/SLI
Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

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

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.84
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 3:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+

(2.4GHz)

Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL2

GeForce 6800 GT

2x GeForce 6600 GT/SLI
Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

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

Windows XP Pro SP2
Forceware v71.84
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 4:
Pentium 4 EE 3.73GHz
(LGA 775)

ASUS P5AD2-E
i925XE Chipset

2x512MB Corsair DDR2533 PC2-4300
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
Intel Chipset Drivers v6.3.0.1007
NVIDIA Forceware v71.84
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.)


CPU
DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR



CPU
MSI K8N Neo 4 Platinum/SLI



CPU
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI



Multimedia
DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR



Multimedia
MSI K8N Neo 4 Platinum/SLI



Multimedia
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI



Memory
DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR

Memory
MSI K8N Neo 4 Platinum/SLI

Memory
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI

All three of the nForce 4 SLI powered motherboards we tested performed similarly in SANDRA's CPU, Multimedia, and Memory benchmark modules.  The DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR finished all three of the tests just slightly ahead of the MSI and Gigabyte boards, but the differences were not dramatic.  Because the Athlon 64's memory controller is integrated into the CPU, specialized synthetic tests like these that focus solely on processor and memory performance, usually don't show much variation when testing systems that are configured with the exact same components.


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