NVIDIA's NFORCE3 250Gb - New Motherboards from MSI and EPoX

Article Index

The HotHardware Test Bed, Overclocking and Synthetic Benchmarks

 

The HotHardware Test Bed
Athlon64 Power

 

Hardware

EPoX EP-8KDA3+ (NF3 250Gb)
MSI K8N Neo Platinum (NF3 250Gb)

Foxconn 755A01-6EKRS (SiS755)
MSI K8T Neo (VIA K8T800) 

AMD Athlon 64 - 3200+
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
512MB Kingston HyperX PC3500 CAS 2
Integrated Audio
Western Digital ATA100
30GB - 7200RPM
Artec DVD+/-R/RW

Software

Windows XP Professional SP-1
DirectX 9.0b
SiS IDE Driver v2.04
SiS AGP Driver v1.17
VIA 4-in-1 v4.51
NVIDIA Forceware - Graphics v56.72
NVIDIA Forceware - NFORCE v4.24

Overclocking
It May Not Be Much, But We Have To Try

We first started out our overclocking segment with the MSI K8N Neo Platinum.  We managed to post into Windows once at 218MHz (up from 200MHz), but the system locked and the BIOS needed to be reset.  MSI's Core Cell failed to recover from the bad overclocked altogether.  Next we tried a 16MHz increase and managed to boot into Windows and launch SANDRA 4, but before the CPU test could complete, once again we needed to reset the BIOS after the system locked.  After several more attempts, the best we achieved was an increase of 15MHz, resulting in a CPU speed of 2.15GHz.  We then launched a round of Comanche4 and walked away with an increase of almost 4FPS, going from 66.40 to 70.34, an increase of 6%.

The EPoX EP-8KDA3+ yielded a much smoother, and slightly higher overclocking experience.  To start off we set the CPU register to 215MHz and booted into Windows without a problem.  So we rebooted and increased the setting to 217MHz and once again, no problems, however, anything higher and the system would not boot into Windows.  So 217MHz was the peak speed for the EP-8KDA3+ with minimal fuss.  This equated to an increase of 8.5%, and raised its Comanche4 score from 67.34 to 72.55.  Very nice.

SiSoftware's SANDRA 4
Let's Start with the Synthetics

To get a quick assessment of expected system performance, we like to run 3 common modules in SANDRA 4; CPU, Multimedia, and Memory.  This helps paint an initial picture of how hardware compares when gauged against SANDRA's comprehensive hardware database.

EPoX EP-8KDA3+

CPU@2GHz
Multimedia@2GHz
Memory@400MHz
CPU@2.17GHz
Multimedia@2.17GHz
Memory@436MHz

 


MSI K8N Neo Platinum

CPU@2GHz
Multimedia@2GHz
Memory@400MHz
CPU@2.15GHz
Multimedia@2.15GHz
Memory@430MHz


At the default clock speeds, we have to give a slight advantage to the EPoX EP-8KDA3+.  Although neither of these boards are retail models, it's looking like the EPoX model is set to run a bit more aggressively than the MSI board.  With overclocking, the picture remained the same.  Even though there was only a 2MHz difference between the EPoX and MSI, those 2MHz can make a measurable difference in performance scores.  For example, in the CPU test we saw a difference of roughly 150 points in Dhrystone and an average of 100 in Whetstone scores.  When we shifted to the Multimedia tests we saw the results range from a 383 to 510 point difference.  The memory test results were less drastic with an average variance of 80 points overall.  We point this out not as a comparison of the two boards, since both are pre-release models, but rather to show how a slight difference in overclocking can add up.


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