NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2

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Our Test Systems and SANDRA


HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We have two sets of benchmark tests to discuss in this article.  The first round of tests consist of five different motherboards compared using identical supporting hardware.  In addition to the motherboard tests, we also tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an Asus nForce 790i SLI Ultra based Striker II Extreme motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Asus P5E3 Premium (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring these test systems was enter their respective BIOSes and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and NVIDIA Powered


Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3GHz)

Asus Striker II Extreme
(nForce 790i SLI Ultra chipset)

Asus P5E3 Premium
(X48 Express)

Radeon HD 3870 X2
GeForce 9800 GX2
GeForce 8800 GTS 512 (x2)
GeForce 8800 GTX

2048MB Corsair DDR3-1333 C7
(2 X 1GB)

Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Western Digital "Raptor" 74GB
(10,000RPM - SATA)


Relevant Software:

Windows Vista Ultimate

NVIDIA Forceware v174.53
ATI Catalyst v8.3

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
Unreal Tournament 3
Crysis
Half Life 2: Episode 2
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

SiSoftware SANDRA XII
Synthetic Benchmarks

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA XII, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA XII suite on the nForce 790i SLI Ultra-based system (CPU Arithmetic, Memory, and Memory Latency).  All of the scores reported below were taken with the processor running at its default clock speed of 3.0GHz with DDR3-1333MHz RAM, operating in Linked mode.


 
SANDRA CPU

SANDRA Memory

SANDRA Latency

The nForce 790i SLI Ultra performed as we expected in the SANDRA CPU arithmetic benchmark, where it was in-line with other platforms we have tested and the reference systems in SANDRA's database.  The Memory Bandwidth and Latency benchmarks, however, tell a more interesting story.  The nForce 790i SLI Ultra's peak bandwidth as reported by SANDRA is right on par, albiet slightly higher, than Intel's X38 / X48 chipset.  And the nForce 790i SLI Ultra's latency score is significantly lower than Intel's chipset as well (62ns vs. 71ns).  If these synthetic metrics hold true in real-world testing, the nForce 790i SLI should perform quite well in comparison to Intel's current offerings.


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