Testbed and Methods
Since the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard we are talking about today is based on ATI RD600 chipset, which we haven’t yet tested in our lab, it will also be interesting to check out the general performance results for this platform. Especially, since we know from our previous experience that ATI chipsets have never actually boasted a high-performance memory controller. Therefore, we decided to compare the performance of our DFI mainboard with that of other boards based on the Nvidia and Intel chipsets available in the market today.
Our test platforms were built using the following hardware:
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (LGA775, 2.93GHz, 4MB L2).
- DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G (LGA775, AMD Crossfire Xpress 3200);
- DFI Infinity 975X/G (LGA775, Intel 975X Express);
- ASUS P5B Deluxe (LGA775, Intel P965 Express);
- ASUS Striker Extreme (LGA775, NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI);
- Memory: 2GB DDR2-800 SDRAM (Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5D).
- Graphics card: PowerColor X1900 XTX 512MB (PCI-E x16).
- HDD: Western Digital WD1500AHFD (SATA150).
- OS: Microsoft Windows XP SP2 with DirectX 9.0c.
We tried to put the test systems into similar conditions that is why we had the memory in all systems running at 400MHz with 4-4-4-12 timings. Nevertheless, the settings for the memory controllers were still different in one single parameter. It was Command Rate. The mainboards on Intel chipsets do not allow changing this setting because of the chipset limitations. Therefore, platforms on i975X and iP965 were running at 2T Command Rate. Nvidia nForce 680i SLI allows adjusting this timing, that is why this platform was running at 1T Command Rate.
As we have already mentioned above, ATI RD600 also allows changing this timing. However during our practical tests of the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G things turned out a little bit more complicated than we expected. If you set Command rate to 1T with all the mainboard settings at defaults, the system wouldn’t boot no matter what memory modules you are using. Therefore, you need to do a few more things in order to get this Command Rate setting running. In our case all we needed to do was to Disable the ADDR/CMD Driving Pre-AMP parameter. However, CS Output Timing and ADDR/CMD Driving strength options can also affect the system stability at 1T Command Rate.
Since the performance of the memory controllers integrated into the chipsets North Bridges has the biggest effect on the performance of mainboards for Intel Core 2 processors, we will commence our testing with the practical memory bandwidth and latency.
Unfortunately, ATI Company failed to develop a memory controller that could compete successfully with the memory controllers of Intel and Nvidia chipsets. ATI RD600 loses to its rivals in the bandwidth measurements and latency tests. So we expect the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard to yield to solutions based on NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI, Intel P965 Express and Intel 975X Express in most benchmarks.
For example, DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G is about 9-10% slower than the competitors in the popular SuperPi benchmark, which is a pretty frustrating result, in this case.